Turns out your mom was right, posture is pretty important. But it’s not just about debutante decorum; improper posture can have negative health and professional repercussions.
LET’S GET PHYSICAL
Posture refers to the way you hold your body when you’re sitting or standing, and is the basis for movement and the way your body reacts to stress. When you’re slouching or hunched over, your muscles are exerted to keep your body upright and balanced. Poor posture can have a number of health ramifications, including extra wear and tear on your ligaments, increased likelihood for accidents, tension headaches, back pain, scoliosis, and increased sensitivity to pain. Your posture can even affect the functioning of your organs. When slumping, your lung capacity can be diminished by as much as 30%, according to Dr. Rene Cailliet, former director of University of Southern California’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
Ideally, from the front, all 33 of your vertebrae would be stacked in a straight line. You should be able to draw a line from just in front of your shoulders to behind your hip to the front of your knee to a few inches in front of your ankle. When sitting, your neck should be vertical with your arms relaxed and close to your trunk. Your knees should be at a right angle, with your feet flat on the floor. Feel free to adjust now!
YOUR BRAIN DOESN’T TAKE KINDLY TO SLOUCHING
A study by psychologist Dr. Amy Cuddy, found that striking a high power pose (think like Wonder Woman or a Wallstreet CEO) for just two minutes increased levels of testosterone (the dominance hormone) and decreased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone). They were also more likely to feel confident in taking risks and ace a job interview.
While you don’t have to walk around your office like King Kong, those who just adjust and practice good posture are more likely to have faith in their own assets and believe positive feedback. They also report lower feelings of fear and more positive emotions like enthusiasm and strength. The Prim & Propers can also recall positive memories easier than Slouchers.
Your posture may be affecting your teammate-appeal. In a recent study by the University of Auckland, after participating in a stress-inducing task, those who droop when they sit or stand felt more fearful, hostile, nervous, and sluggish. This could contribute to why more workers prefer to collaborate with someone who displays positive body language. Besides, who wants to work with a Debbie Downer?
As stated earlier, bad posture can have some serious effects on your health. When you ignore this aspect of your well-being, you are likely to miss more work due to health reasons. Getting regularly passed over for teams and often missing work can have a serious impact on your professional aptitude.
Don’t get too down on yourself. In most of these studies, the positive effects of good posture occurred when subjects were told to display it. These were all sudden, simple changes that had immediate, positive results. Now go call your mom and apologize.
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