Just how important is posture?

So I want to share a few very valuable insights on posture – It’s something we all rolled our eyes at when we were younger, but now it’s catching up to us, in a very VERY negative way.

Check this out, for instance:

  • 65% of back pain is posture related
  • 53% of neck pain is posture related.

This is QUITE alarming.

Let’s think of some of the causes: I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 18 years old. When I had one I barely used it. Now, children are glued to their iphones at the age of 10, sometimes even younger. And they’re probably not doing soft tissue work or mobility work or even switching hands when they talk.

This can lead to neck pain, referred all the way down to back pain as they get older and such. I have had more people with pain in the last 5 years than people without, unfortunately.

I would like to bring light to some of the effects that it has, as well as an identifiable solution to one of the more common problems:

Back Pain: You should be sitting at 135 degrees if you suffer from back pain. Read below to see the research.

135 degree

Using “positional” MRI techniques researchers studied the sitting positions of 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain. The MRI machine allowed freedom of motion, such as sitting or standing, during imaging. Conventional MRI machines require the patient to lie flat and may mask some causes of back pain.

Researchers used the MRI to examine spinal positioning while the participants assumed three different sitting positions: slouching forward (such as hunched over a desk or video game console), an upright 90-degree sitting position, and a relaxed position with the back reclined backward about 135 degrees while the feet were still on the floor.

Overall, researchers concluded that the 135-degree reclining position put the least stress on the spine and may reduce the risk of back pain. They recommend that people who sit for long periods of time correct their sitting posture and find a chair that allows them to recline.

When I was preparing my research for the SAP Field Kick Off Meeting, I found some more alarming research insights into posture and just the effects it has on people:

A study from researchers at Columbia and Harvard showed that body language symbolizing power can actually affect our decision-making subconsciously. The researchers measured the appetite for risk of participants in either expansive, powerful poses or constricted poses (occupying minimal space, keeping limbs close to the body). Those in the powerful poses not only felt more powerful and in control, but were 45% more likely to take a risky bet.

Plus, the study used saliva samples to prove that expansive postures actually altered the participants’ hormone levels—decreasing cortisol (C) and increasing testosterone (T):

This neuroendocrine profile of High T and Low C has been consistently linked to such outcomes as disease resistance and leadership abilities.

So clearly, our posture has more to do with our minds than we might have thought. And, in fact, it seems like our bodies come first: When we alter our posture and body language, it subconsciously influences our thinking and decision-making.

So moral of the story: PAY ATTENTION TO HOW YOU SIT!

-Darin Hulslander