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Positive Posture - is your posture having a negative effect on your stress levels?

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 16 2016 10:00AM

Our osteopath and yoga teacher Yinka Fabusuyi looks at the effect of posture on hormones and stress and suggests a pose to help counteract imbalances.

Are you sitting up straight? You should be. Studies have demonstrated that certain postures (so called power postures or open postures) can affect our mood and general health. Levels of the stress hormonee cortisol and the male hormone testosterone have been shown to be affected by posture. We all need both hormones at the correct levels to maintain health. Men have much higher levels of testosterone but women do produce small amounts. Prolonged high cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, increased blood pressure, osteoporosis, changes to the skin, lowered libido and slower wound healing (although a short term increase in cortisol can be positive, by giving you an energy boost, heightening memory and increasing immunity). Testosterone in women is important for maintaining bone density and muscle mass as well as balancing blood sugar levels and helping to regulate libido.

What the science says: Power Posing Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance. Dana R. Carney, Amy J.C. Cuddy and Andy J. Yap. Psychological Science Journal 2010.

Dana Carney and colleagues investigated open and closed postures and found that they were associated with an alteration in physiological, mental and feeling states of the participants. Participants were found to have lowered cortisol levels and slightly raised testosterone levels after 2 minutes of adopting these power postures.

The open or power posture can be described as lifting the area around your breast bone and expanding the chest. Dropping your shoulders away from your ears and lifting the chin parallel to the ground. Abdominal muscles should be engaged so that they work to prevent slumping. The closed posture was the opposite of this (slumping, slouched and shoulders rolling forward). An open posture is the better posture to adopt when sitting at a desk or standing. As well as helping to prevent strain and stress in the muscles of the back neck and shoulders we now know it can have a positive affect on our state of mind. Give it a go. For advice and treatment for low back, neck and shoulder pain go to: or call 07951437402.

Try this posture:

This posture is an open posture (see above).

It stretches the muscles across the front of the chest (pectoral muscles)

Loosens tight shoulder joints and strengthens the thigh muscles.

From a standing position with feet about 50-60cm apart and arms held as in drawing, tuck your tail bone in and sink into the high squat as illustrated. Breathe in and out deeply for 3-5 breaths and return to your starting position. Repeat several times.

Yinka is at West Norwood Therapies on Wednesdays and ad-hoc

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