bad posture, breathing and digestion

bad posture, breathing and digestion

Bad posture, breathing and digestion

I was in a yoga class recently where the teacher spoke in depth about the effects of slouching and bad posture on digestion.  It is a concept I had heard about before but I had forgotten how serious of an issue it can be for some people.  After the class was over the wheels in my brain were running at full speed thinking of all of the times I have witnessed this issue with my clients.  Massage can do funny things to people sometimes including moving things around in the tummy causing gas at inopportune moments.  But there is no reason to be embarrassed!  As your therapist, I understand what is happening and feel good about the fact that I am helping your body find space to function as it needs to.  You may be thinking to yourself  “how the heck can my posture effect my internal organs?!”  Let me walk you through it.

What I mean by bad posture 

  • Slouching

  • Wearing “shoulder earrings” or hunching your shoulders up to your ears

  • Cocking your neck to one side or looking down too much (pulled forward neck)

  • Standing with all of your weight to one side or the other or sitting in an unbalanced way such as crossing your legs

How bad posture can negatively effect your health

  • Jaw pain-Many of us clench our jaw when we are  stressed but it isn’t the only time that jaw tension is created.  Having your head and neck pulled forward, looking down too often or having your head tilted to one side or the other can have major effects on the level of relaxation in your jaw.  Jaw tension can cause headaches, neck and shoulder pain.

  • Digestion and breathing issues-As I mentioned above, digestion can be greatly effected by bad posture.  When you are in a slumped forward position it shortens the muscles in the front of your body, including those in your rib cage and abdomen.  When your rib cage gets out of wack it can restrict the spaces where your heart and lungs live which means your body cannot function efficiently and you may even begin to feel pain with taking in full breaths.  When your abdomen is restricted it places pressure on your gastrointestinal tract and can cause feelings of discomfort and bloating effects.

  • Limited range of motion-Shortened tight muscles can lead to all sorts of issues, including an inability or lack of ability to move in ways you would like to.  This becomes more and more true as we age which is why it is so very important to address the issues early, but it is never too late!  A limited range of motion or restricted movement is frustrating and scary, it can cause us to be injured more frequently and easier and it can limit our activities and even lead to surgery.

A few ideas for correcting bad posture

  • Pick one issue and focus on it

    for instance, if you have a slouching problem you most likely have a pulled forward head and shoulders, an improper alignment of your spine as well as many other issues.  For the next month choose one of those things to focus on.  Start by pulling your shoulders back and down or “taking off the shoulder earrings”.  Make a concerted effort every time you remember to fix this one thing in your posture.  If you work out, add one exercise to help correct these issues in your posture.  Once you feel you have mastered this move on to the next issue.

  • Think of your body in terms of becoming stacked, when your body is aligned it actually takes less energy to function and you are stronger.  Practice stacking your body one time per day by starting with your feet planted on the ground, knees over the ankles, hips over the knees and pelvis in a neutral position (not tucked and not stuck out), ribs and tummy pulled in but relaxed, shoulders over hips and head directly between the shoulders with a long straight neck.  Look at yourself in the mirror from all angles and make adjustments where necessary.  Hold this position for a few minutes to get your body used to the feeling.  Doing the same thing with sitting can go a long way as well!

bad posture, breathing and digestion

  • Stretch and exercise-I know, it is definitely not our favorite thing to hear but seriously, it is so necessary.  You don’t have to become a world famous athlete in order to be healthy.  A little goes a very long way, so why not just start somewhere, even if that means 5-15 minutes a day?  If you slouch or sit a lot the front of your body’s muscles are shortened and tight while the back of your body’s muscles are over stretched and weak.  Begin by stretching the tightest or most shortened muscles and working to strengthen the muscles that have been overstretched.  A good massage therapist, acupuncturist, physical therapist or other expert in this area can help you find the regimen that is best for you.

  • Get body work!  massage, acupuncture and most other forms of body work are focused on helping you find balance and peace in your body as well as your mind.  Getting regular treatments can make a huge difference in finding a place of health and efficiency in your daily movement patterns.  Need help finding what is right for you?  Send us an email to or schedule and appointment online today at!

Have questions?  Feel free to leave them in the comments.  Like what you see?  Share with your friends.

Thanks so much for reading and have a wonderful week!

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