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Hands Up for Health: A Surprising Link Between Posture, Balance, and Your Mood


So, I chat a lot about fitness, mental wellness, happiness, balance, and food, right? Now, I want to talk about this sneaky little thing I don’t usually talk about: posture, and its best friend forever, balance. The way we stand, sit, and even slump on the couch can seriously mess with our physical health and even our mood!


The Lowdown on Posture and Balance


Living in the 21st century is all fun and games until we realize we've become a society of hunchbacks. Computers, driving, and endless hours on the phone - yup, all that scrolling - cause this annoying thing we call 'tech neck' or 'forward head posture.'


Seriously, here’s what's happening: when we're constantly hunched over our screens, our heads tend to jut forward and our shoulders follow suit, rolling forward as well. This is mainly due to specific muscles—the Scalene Muscles in the neck, and the Pectoralis Minor and Serratus Anterior in the shoulder area—tightening up. As these muscles attach to the ribs and become tight, they make it difficult for the ribs to move, preventing our chests from fully expanding. It's no wonder we end up feeling restricted and uncomfortable!

Poor posture isn't just about appearances; it also triggers a lot of health issues: constant neck and shoulder pain, difficulty balancing,(which means increased likelihood of falling) and even digestive problems. It interferes with our ability to breathe properly. And guess what? Research from San Francisco State University demonstrated that simply improving your posture can even lift your mood and increase your energy!


Maintaining balance isn't easy with bad posture. While good posture keeps your body well-aligned and stable, poor posture shifts your center of gravity, leading to imbalances that could cause falls or injuries.


The Quick Fix: Palms-Up Sitting

Alright, let's cut to the chase: there's a super simple solution - sitting with your palms facing up. Sounds too easy, right?


When you sit palms-up, it's like magic: your chest opens, your shoulders roll back, and your spine gets back in line. It's the perfect antidote to the hunched-over-ness that comes from hours at a desk or endless phone scrolling. Plus, it lets your ribs move freely, helping to maintain your center of gravity, and thus, your balance.


And the benefits aren't just physical. In the yoga and meditation world, palms-up is a symbol of openness and peace. It's like telling your mind, "Hey, chill out and focus." It kind of is the ultimate stress-buster!


Here's how to do the 'palms-up sitting':

  1. Plant your feet flat on the ground and plop yourself down in a comfy chair.

  2. Lay your hands on your lap with your palms facing the sky.

  3. Straighten that back and let your shoulders relax.

Do this whenever, wherever - at your desk, during a break, or when you're just chilling.


BUT . . . Don't Stop There: Building on Palms-Up Sitting


While practicing 'palms-up' sitting is a fantastic start, it's essential to remember that it's just that - a start. If we want to truly improve our posture, balance, and overall well-being, we need to do a little bit (a lot of bit?) more.


Incorporating a balanced regimen of strength training, stretching, and cardio workouts into our every day can work wonders in our path for better posture. Strength exercises help build strong and supportive muscles to maintain our skeleton properly, while stretching can relieve the tension and tightness that contribute to poor posture. Cardio workouts, on the other hand, improve our overall stamina and help our muscles maintain good posture for extended periods of time.


So, as you begin to experience the benefits of palms-up sitting, plan to also make a commitment to add these beneficial physical activities to our daily routine. Combining these exercise protocols, you can effectively enhance your posture, improve your balance, and contribute positively to our overall health and well-being.


Your journey towards wellness is a marathon, never a sprint, and every small step counts! Start with palms-up sitting, add a dash of stretching, a sprinkle of strength training, and a pinch of endurance exercises, and you're on your way to a healthier, happier you! Rome wasn't built in a day. Changing your posture is a slow ride, so keep at it, and check in with your body throughout the day.


Additionally, if you have any questions, or if you're curious about other ways to improve your posture, strength and balance, feel free to reach out to me. I'm here to help guide you on your path to improved health and happiness. After all, it's small steps like these that lead to the biggest transformations in our lives.

References

  1. Nair, S., Sagar, M., Sollers, J., III, Consedine, N., & Broadbent, E. (2015). "Do Slumped and Upright Postures Affect Stress Responses? A Randomized Trial." Health Psychology, 34(6), 632–641. DOI: 10.1037/hea0000146.

  2. Lee, J. H., Choi, H. S., Ju, Y. J., Lee, S. (2014). "Effects of forward head posture on static and dynamic balance control." Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 26(2), 293-296. DOI: 10.1589/jpts.26.293.

  3. Kwon, J. W., Son, S. M., & Lee, N. K. (2018). "Changes in upper-extremity muscle activities due to head position in subjects with a forward head posture and rounded shoulders." Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 30(5), 719-722. DOI: 10.1589/jpts.30.719.

  4. Kim, E. K., Kim, J. S. (2016). "Correlation between rounded shoulder posture, neck disability indices, and degree of forward head posture." Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(10), 2929-2932. DOI: 10.1589/jpts.28.2929.

  5. Peper, E., Lin, I.-M. (2012). "Increase or decrease depression: How body postures influence your energy level." Biofeedback, 40(3), 125–130. DOI: 10.5298/1081-5937-40.3.01.

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