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Posture... What Is It & What Can You Do?

Overview

Posture is the position in which the body is held while stationary or while in motion, static and dynamic respectively, and while many people know and understand what an ideal posture is very few make the effort to make it a practice in their daily life. What is relatively unknown is how posture and body and facial expression can affect our mood; standing tall, head up, shoulders back, with an expression on your face that looks happy will actually make you happier and more susceptible to positive thinking. (Kleinke, C, et al, 1998)

Posture and the Effects on Mood

It is well documented that your posture, both standing and sitting, and even gait - manner of walking (Michalak, J, et al, 2009) can indicate your current mood and emotional state. When in a negative mood your body tends to slump, lean forward, and basically wants to be in a position where you are looking down. When in a positive mood your body tends to want to be upright and head tall, walking with a strut of sorts. But that is only looking at it one way, cause and effect; but can changing the posture consequently affect your mood?

A study done by Veenstra, L., Schneider, I.K. & Koole, S.L. (2016) showed that a more negative mood can be generated by manipulating the posture of the participant to a forward slumped one, but if the posture of the participant was upright or neutral, then they proved to be resistant to being induced to a negative mood. The same was done in the opposite case where the participant was more likely to be influenced into a positive mood when placed into an upright posture, such as having a higher self esteem. And research does show that motor actions and stable postures do have a correlating effect on emotional processes (Michalak, J, et al, 2014).

Not only can a positive or negative mood be generated via change in posture, but other research has been done to show that practicing an upright posture can decrease fatigue and and have a positive effect in cases of diagnosed depression (Wilkes, C, et al, 2017). Even adopting a particular breathing pattern and alter your emotional state (Philippot, P, et al, 2010).

Ideal Standing Posture

When looking at a more ideal posture, a simple assessment you can employ is called the Plumbline Posture Assessment (Norris, C.M., & Berry, S, 1998). Take the person you are assessing and get them to stand with one of their sides facing you and you look at these structures:

  • The ear

  • Shoulder joint

  • Middle of the torso

  • Hip joint

  • Knee joint

  • Lateral malleoli (prominent bone bulging out in ankle region)

Now if you draw a line along those structures you can get a sense of how ideal your posture is, the straighter the line the more ideal posture you have.

What can Richmond Rehab do for you?

There are a number of factors that can change your posture such as: body conditions, pregnancy, work, and physical activity (sports and gym), and there are also a number of ways to work on correcting your posture. Education and exercises and techniques from our expert team will get you understanding why your posture is the way it is and how to effectively counter it.

References

Kleinke, C. L., Peterson, T. R., & Rutledge, T. R. (1998). “Effects of Self-Generated Facial Expressions on Mood.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 272-279.

Michalak, J., Troje, N., Fischer, J., Vollmar, P., Heidenreich, T., & Schulte, D. (2009). “Embodiment of Sadness and Depression - Gait Patterns Associated with Dysphoric Mood.” Psychosomatic Medicine, 71(5), 580-587.

Michalak, J., Mischnat, J., & Teismann, T. (2014). “Sitting Posture Makes a Difference - Embodiment Effects on Depressive Memory Bias.” Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy, 21(6), 519-524.

Norris, C. M., & Berry, S. (1998). “Occurrence of Common Lumbar Posture Types in the Student Sporting Population: An Initial Investigation.” Sports and Exercise Injury, 4, 15-18

Phillipot, P., Chapelle, G., & Blairy, S. (2010). “Respiratory Feedback in the Generation of Emotion.”CognitionandEmotion, 16(5),605-627.

Veenstra, L., Schneider, I. K., & Koole, S. L. (2016). “Embodied Mood Regulation: The Impact of Body Posture on Mood Recovery, Negative Thoughts, and Mood-congruent Recall.” Cognition andEmotion, 31(7),1361-1376.

Wilkes, C., Kydd, R., Sagar, M., Broadbent, E. (2017). “Upright Posture Improves Affect and Fatigue in People with Depressive Symptoms.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 54(3),143-149.