Stress can be defined as a reaction to a certain high-pressure situation or scenario where the person’s ability to cope, is challenged. As mentioned in one of our other blog posts; ‘why is stress so harmful?’, stress can have adverse effects on people who experience it frequently. This is due to the persistent release of stress hormones, that alter one’s bodily functions for survival.
In this blog, we’ll be focusing on how stress affects your posture and how you can limit these unwanted effects, from the comfort of your own home.
To begin, we need to determine what correct posture is. This will give you a better understanding of how stress can play a role in changing this correct posture.
Correct posture is when you are standing up with your head held tall, base of the chin level with the floor, shoulders back and relaxed. A nice even ‘S’ shaped curves throughout the spine can be observed, with hips level and in line with the bony part on the side of your ankle.
Here is a picture to give you a better idea. (Good posture is on the left, poor posture on the right).
When we are stressed however, this ideal posture usually becomes poor posture.
An instant note of stress is when we begin to tense up, causing us to raise our shoulders and our muscles to stiffen up, priming us for action. This is the body’s way of protecting itself from danger; which would be great if we were threatened by a lion who hasn’t eaten for weeks. But this is not the case.
This prolonged ’stress posture’ which we will call it, can have numerous side effects.
Headaches are common for people who are stressed, as their neck and shoulder muscles are always so tense.
Something you can try right now is the effect of stress posture on your ability to breathe (oxygenation). Sit on a chair with your shoulders rounded forwards, body hunched over and head forward. Now take a deep breath. Difficult, isn’t it?
Now sit up straight, with your shoulders loose and relaxed, head held up. Take a deep breath in. How much easier is that?
In saying this, stress can affect your oxygenation levels. People who are stressed and sit at a desk for most of the day will likely be giving their body lower levels of oxygen, lowering your overall bodily function. Low oxygenation throughout the body can also cause headaches as well.
Commonly, people who are stressed will have much sorer muscles than those who aren’t stressed. This is because our body when stressed is always under tension. This can lead to muscle tightness, postural imbalances, knots in the muscles, subluxations and much more. (To find out what a subluxation is, click HERE).
A study was done on the effects a slumped posture compared to an upright posture has on someone’s stress levels. It was found that by sitting in an upright position, it can significantly increase self-esteem levels, focus levels and mood when compared with a slumped position.