Do you ever start the day saying, “I want to be more positive today”, or “I would like to have more confidence”? Did you ever think you could do both of these things just by improving your posture?!
The expression “Keep your head up” may be better advice than you initially thought.
In the day and age of; hand held electronics, computers, desk work, and overall more sitting, we find ourselves less upright, as well as emotionally not-right.
A study conducted by San Francisco State University uncovered a connection between poor, slouching posture and increased likeliness to report feelings of depression and low energy (1). In the study, university students were first interviewed and asked about their levels of depression and energy. They were then instructed to walk down a hallway in a slouched position or to skip. Dr. Peper found that with simple changes to a more upright body posture, as well as playful moves like skipping, could lead to improved mood as well as higher energy levels. Specifically, the study recognizes that the mind-body relationship is absolutely a two-way street in which your emotions affect your posture and body language, while your body language and activity can increase or decrease your feelings of wellbeing. Those who had reported higher depression scores, tended to also report lower energy after preforming a slouched walk. Participants, who had reported feelings of depression and sadness, reported an increase in their energy levels after the upright skipping activity.
Do you have a “Strong Back Bone” or has someone been “Spineless”?
These terms have been used for decades to describe persons with strong or weak character. When someone has proved worthy and courageous they are said to have a strong backbone. People who have crumbled under pressure or caved to circumstances are described as “spineless”. Could there be some truth to the play on words?
Dr. Dan Hall of Hall Family Chiropractic in Stillwater, Minnesota believes just that. He has found that an incredible amount of research has supported the effects of mood and physical wellbeing with the connection to spinal alignment.
Where Wonder Woman gets her POWER…
All living creatures display their power through postures and stance. Think of the proud peacock, or the parading lion, showing their strength and dominance for all to admire. In contrast, we will also display our lack of confidence through our body language. Feelings of self-esteem and high value will exude through your upright stance and proud gaze, while weariness and nerves will be revealed by your timid eyes and cowering presence.
Our every move and expression is telling others how we are feeling, studies published by Dana Carney of Berkeley and Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist at Harvard Business School, strongly support that our moves and expressions are also telling OURSELVES how we feel (2).
In this study, participants were asked to assume a two minute “high-power pose” or “low-power pose”.
Low-power poses included slouching and looking downward. High-power poses included the:
CEO Pose: Seated, reclined with arms folded behind head, and legs up.
Wonder Woman pose: Standing stance with feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips, chest up and out.
After two minutes the participants were interviewed for emotional changes, and also physiological differences. The results showed an increased level of confidence after power poses, and even more interestingly a clear difference in the participants’ hormone levels!
Testosterone is a hormone in men and women that can have indication of strength and confidence. High-power posers had an 8% INCREASE in testosterone levels, while low-power posers had a 10% DECREASE in testosterone levels. Meanwhile, cortisol (the hormone related to stress) had an inverse relationship to the poses. Low-power posers had a 15% INCREASE in their cortisol levels, while high-power posers were measured as having a 25% DECREASE in their stress hormone levels.
The Power Routine
Dr. Dragomir Mijic states that bad posture can be the result of rounding and internal rotation of the shoulders. This further exacerbates the imbalance between stronger internal rotator muscles and weaker external rotator muscles, leading to neck/shoulder pain, impingement of motion, and poor posture.
Here are 5 moves we suggest you can do NOW to improve your posture and positivity.
Rope Pull-back 4×12
In a strong stance, look upward, reach for the cable rope and squeeze the rear deltoids and bring your scapula together as you pull back and hold for one to two counts
**You may also use resistance bands attached to the top of a doorway at home
Rear Deltoid Machine 4×10
Seated with chest up and outward, extend your arms forward to hold the handles of the machine, pull the machine open using your rear deltoid and hold for one to two counts
**You may also use resistance bands wrapped around a pole or other anchor point, while sitting in a chair at home
SuperWOMAN hyperextension 4×8
On the floor or using the back extension equipment allow your body to relax downward, and then contract your core/back/and shoulders as you raise your upper body and squeeze your legs and butt for support, hold for one to two counts
Open your World Crunch 4×10
While lying on your back, fully extend your arms and legs for a purposeful stretch, proceed to pulling yourself into a fetal position crunch. Hold one to two counts at full stretch and one to two counts at contraction.
Cobra Pose 4×3 breaths
While lying on your stomach, place palms comfortably under your shoulders and press upward to the full cobra with eyes up, chest forward, and shoulders down. Take nice slow deep breaths. If you have limited mobility in your back, try a baby cobra by just partially extending and keeping palms and elbows on floor.
- Increase or Decrease Depression: How Body Postures Influence Your Energy Level; Erik Peper, PhD, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA; and I-Mei Lin, PhD, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan; Association for Applied Psychophysiology & Biofeedback, 10/5/2012; Volume 40, Issue 3, pp.125-130
- Power Posing: brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance; Carney D., Cuddy A., Yap A.; Psychological Science, 10/21/2010; Volume 10, pp. 1363-8
- When you smile, the world smiles at you: ERP evidence for self-expression effects on face processing; Sel A. et al; Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 10/10/2015; Volume 10, pp. 1316-1322 (first published online 2/24/2015)