Structure affects function. In the world of musculoskeletal disorders, this is a common axiom. A simple example will make it obvious. The more hunched over one is, the more compressed become the organs. Pressure on the organs change blood flow to the organ and in the organ, and therefore the functioning of that organ becomes diminished.

Viewed from the side optimal posture will place the middle of the second cervical vertebrae directly over the second sacral tubercle (the bump on the sacrum just below the last lumbar vertebrae).

In a symptom survey done some years ago, it was found that the further forward the second cervical vertebrae was in relationship to the second sacral tubercle, the greater was the number of symptoms checked off on the survey. 

Does this mean that the further forward the head projected, the greater number of symptoms was created, or the greater number of symptoms was forcing the head forward? Of course, the answer to that is unknown. What we can say, however, is that maintaining better posture correlates with greater health.

While grandma may have nagged you about your posture, she may not have realized the other benefits of sitting or standing up straight with your head up and shoulders back: mood. Various studies reveal that maintaining good posture can also help boost your mood and slash stress.

According to research from San Francisco State University Professor of Health Education Erik Peper, Ph.D., individuals who walk with a slumped or downcast posture can have feelings of depression or diminished energy.

It is interesting to note that on the basketball court or the football field or the baseball diamond, players frequently walk with their head down after a bad play. It's as if momentary depression has been created by the miscue. Professional athletes are taught to "blow it off" so they don't face the next play with decreased energy and that attitude of sadness. 

In golf, moreover, the greatest test that a professional golfer encounters is hitting a good shot after hitting a bad one. The expression "the wheels just came off" is heard to describe the experience of not being able to recover mentally from a bad shot and then having to ride out the "bogey train."

This research also revealed, however, that those feelings of depression can be reversed simply by walking in a more upright manner. Imagine being able to boost your mood and even your energy level with this easy action.

Standing in an expansive posture of confidence, even if you don’t feel particularly confident, can impact testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain. Adopting such “power poses” may even affect one’s chances for success.

If you’re having a bout of the blues, take a quick assessment of how you’re sitting and standing. Adopting better posture just may improve your mood, boost your confidence and give you more energy to take on your everyday tasks and more.

March 07, 2022 — Erik Gussey