Does Improved Posture Make You Happier? Here’s The Science
Do you experience back pain when sitting? There’s a very good chance that your posture plays a role in this pain. But even beyond the pain, there are far reaching implications to our posture. According to science, proper sitting posture and proper standing posture will not only minimize pain and prevent injury but can actually make you happier. Here’s how.
How Improved Posture Makes Us Happier?
One of the fascinating things about posture is that it can have a big impact on our mood. Slouching can actually lead to sad thoughts while a proper sitting posture can lead to feeling happier.
Body Language – How Does Moving Your Body Affect How Others See You And How You See Yourself?
One thing that undeniably affects our happiness is how others see us and think of us. For better or worse, the perception of others tends to impact how we feel. Our body language plays a huge role in how others see us. When we use proper posture, we tend to look more confident and happier. This, in turn, is how others think of us which then makes us feel better about ourselves.
But body language can also more directly affect our own feelings about ourselves. A 2003 study from Ohio State University found that something as simple as nodding or shaking your head can change your opinions. The same study found that hugging yourself can potentially reduce physical pain. If nodding your head can make you feel more positively about something and shaking your head can make you feel more negatively about it, how can better posture change how you feel about yourself? Fixing your posture is the first step in reducing back pain when sitting but maybe giving yourself a hug is a good next step.
Another study published in the journal Biofeedback found that good posture in sitting positions led to a significant increase in both mood and energy levels. Your posture can literally change how you feel. This can even be part of a treatment plan for those suffering from depression.
Hormones – How Does Posture Change Our Hormone Levels?
The way we sit and stand can even change our hormone levels. A study from Harvard researcher Amy Cuddyfound that expansive posture led to decreasing cortisol levels and increasing testosterone levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and testosterone has been linked to leadership abilities and feelings of confidence. When we employ good posture, we help ourselves feel less stressed as our cortisol levels lower which then leads to feeling happier. This hormonal change led to a significant improvement in confidence and led study participants to feel more powerful. In Cuddy’s enormously popular TED Talk about her research, she said that one’s body language “may shape who you are.” That’s a really simple way of pointing out just how important posture is to how we feel about ourselves.
A study from Cornell’s Vanessa K. Bohnsfound that these hormonal changes from posture can also increase our pain tolerance.
The results of Cuddy’s research haven’t always been replicated by other studies but most studies do show for sure that contractive postures increase cortisol levels. Contractive postures include slouching, having a rounded back, and other examples of what we usually think of as poor posture. That means that poor posture is literally increasing the amount of stress hormone in your body. If we want to feel happier, reducing the amount of the stress hormone in our bodies is a logical step and proper posture can help you do this.
The Challenges of Posture And How To Fix Yours For A Happiness Boost?
The research is pretty clear that poor posture can contribute to depression and stress while good posture can increase happiness. That said, it’s a bit tricky to define exactly what good posture is. This is because there really is no one best posture. For example, a study from the 90sclaimed that sitting at an angle of 110-130 degrees was ideal while a 2007 study claimed that leaning back at 135 degrees was better. So if one wants to be happier and to reduce back pain when sitting or standing, what posture should one adopt?
There is no agreement on what exact angle is ideal. This is likely because the right angle for one person might not be the right angle for another person. Talking about postural angles is also somewhat irrelevant since most people probably aren’t aware of the angle at which they are sitting, at least not to any degree of accuracy.
Perhaps more important than talking about the angle of the back is the idea that the “best posture” is the “next posture.” What does that mean? Keep moving! An overwhelming 86 percent of American workers sit all day at their jobs, and spend at least eight hours sitting each day. The human body just wasn’t designed for this. It is vital to move around regularly. Get up and walk around for a few minutes at least every few hours. When you move from a sitting position to standing and walking around, you’re changing to a more expansive posture which will help trigger those hormonal and body language changes you want.
But what about when you are actually sitting? After all, we all have to sit sometimes. The cliché advice of sitting up straight is accurate. To be more specific, you should try to have a neutral pelvic position, as this will take pressure off the spine and muscles in your back.
If you want to be happier and also reduce back pain when sitting, try focusing on good posture. Also, try to remember not to spend your life sitting but to regularly get up and move around. Give sitting up straight a try and you might find that your pain will decrease while your mood will start improving!
Freya Guerra is the Chief Editor at Posture Profile and a proud mother who’s passionate about posture and giving actionable posture advice. It’s never too late to improve your posture!
Steven came to office looking for neck and upper back relief. Only in his early 20s, Steven have no relief for about two weeks from the intensity of pain.
Steven stayed in shape by training for breakdancing competition (that’s right).
Steven’s first adjustment (as most) comes usually with an unexpected reaction from the patient. Then, RELIEF?
This the REASON for the relief: the adjustment unlocks the joint, releases pressure in the disc, relaxing the nerve that is causing the pain.
Depending on the injury severity, this initial relief may last minutes or hours after the first adjustment. Then continued treatment (if needed) can help long-lasting pain relief; then life long healing.
Spinal Arthritis (osteoarthritis) is a condition of the spine causing pain and neuropathy. This condition is common is seniors and can occur in younger adults due to trauma or secondary to Rheumatoid Arthritis or Ankylosing Spondylitis.
This article will explain the abnormal changes that occur in the spine, the symptoms a patient would feel, the diagnostic imaging, blood work, and the specific treatments offered for spinal arthritis.
Specifically in the low back, spinal motion occurs in the back joints of the spine:
Ligaments in the body connect bone to bone. When these joints stay loose, the ligaments around the spine maintain their elasticity. This allows calcium not to be deposited in the ligaments, keeping the spine and disc healthy.
Spinalosteoarthritis occurs when the front, anterior longitudinal ligament of the spine becomes rigid, and then calcifies according to Arthritis.org. This limits motion in the spinal joints. If untreated the spine can degenerate causing disc and nerve conditions.
Do you have spinal arthritis?
Any persons having signs of spinal nerve and disc conditions in the low back should be checked for spinal arthritis. Signs can be chronic low back sharp pain, back weakness; hip or lower leg pain, weakness, tingling burning. These are the signs from Spine-Health and the cause of each:
1. Back/shoulder stiffness early in the morning that lessens throughout the day. The lack of motion when sleeping increases pressure, then pain.
2. The pain intensity can worsen in the evening. The joint pressure has built up throughout the day to cause this.
3. Sleeping can have increase in intensity of pain. A lack of motion increases pressure then pain.
4. Pain can intensify with climate cooling/barometric pressure change. Scar tissue in the joints allow pressure to build up.
5. Pain can cause achy/stiff joint and pressure. From a lack of motion, the joints build up pressure to cause this.
6. A crunchy or sandy joints with movement. From Arthritis-health this crepitus is the air bubbles popping in the joint that lead to degenerating the joints.
7. If there is irritation of the nerves, neuropathy can occur down the arms or legs. This can feel like pain, numbness, weakness, tingling.
Imaging. An X-ray is the first testingthatcan verify the stage of degeneration and/or osteoarthritis. Arthritis-Healthexplains this would show calcification in the ligaments between the spinal joints in the front or back of the vertebrae. The level of calcification can be considered bone spurs and osteophytes. Because of the high concentration of nerves radiating from the spine, even minor cartilage damage or bone spurs can translate into a lot of pain if either is in a sensitive spot. Therefore, the X-ray is just one tool to be used in conjunction with the patient interview and physical exam can be positive indications of osteoarthritis. Other secondary imaging findings can be degenerative disc disease, spondylosis and osteopenia.
An MRI or CAT scan can provide detailed soft tissue or bone structure imaging unviewable with an x-ray. This type of imaging can give you cross-sectional views details seen on 3D or 4D.
Diagnostic injections can pinpoint the source of pain to a specific joint. Using a local anesthetic can test the patient’s level, if any, of pain relief.
Labs/blood work can rule out systemic inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), spinal infection, cancer according to WebMD.
If testing for spinal arthritis is negative for permanent neuropathy. Then conservative, non-surgical treatment can help recovery and return a better quality of life.
1. Lessened physical activity with alternating heat and cold treatments. Lowering a person’s physical stress can help reduce the inflammation and help joints move with less pain.
2. Stretching joints and ligaments to break up any scar tissue in the joints. Starting on your own, a person can learn active stretching at home. Routinely stretch like these from Arthritis Health can help start the process of forming good habits to limit flare-ups.
3. A physical therapist can help guide you in specific stretches, correct walking, bracing, taping, manual therapies and machine therapies to reduce the symptoms of spinal arthritis and help build flexibility/strength according to Move PT.
4. A chiropractor can help diagnose severity of the condition through x-ray analysis and examination findings. Then moving spinal joints using specific chiropractic adjustments can help break up scar tissue in the joints to improve motion, reduce pressure then pain in the spinal joints according to Discover Chiropractic.
These treatments will be effective to return motion in the spinal joints. This will cause the back/nerve pain to be removed, and strength return.
Keeping the spinal motion normal beyond feeling pain allows the spinal discs to have better circulation. This will allow the spinal joints to regenerate and heal. This may take 2-4 months depending initial symptoms. An x-ray can verify the results.
Most people will use their opioids/pain medication, or go to the medical doctor for shots. If after a few days the pain does not go away, then what do you do?
The first step is taking an x-ray to find the root of the problem. If your medical doctor will not give you one, then go to your chiropractor. We are fortunate enough to have an x-ray facility in our office.
Only your chiropractor can look for spinal misalignments, disc problems, nerve conditions that your medical doctor will not see. And can be the cause of your pain.
Using this x-ray and your examination a chiropractor will explain a treatment plan to help correct the problem in your spine and remove your pain.
This can be done through chiropractic adjustments, stretching, modalities, and exercise. Treatments are used to create more motion to reduce the pain.
Patients are emailed and guided through home exercises. These allow people to feel better and happier.
Then a post x-ray is performed to show the improvement of the spine, and show the cause of the pain has been fixed.
Lastly, patients are encouraged to keep up with their exercise habits. This will keep their spine healthy, and life pain-free.
The “pop” is the release of pressure in a spinal joint. This pressure builds up when the the joint looses motion. By releasing the pressure, nerves are normalized. Then any muscle spasm/pain is reduced and the body’s overall stress reduces.
The popping, cracking sound during a chiropractic adjustment has a rare 1 in 10 million chance of causing death. With an x-ray analysis the chance goes to 1 in 100 million. 300 Americans die daily from taking their normal medications, on average.
By looking at an x-ray analysis BEFORE an adjustment, your chiropractor and yourself can understand WHY your spine may need increase motion.