But that’s not the only thing adding to our hunched-over appearance. Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle coupled with our tendency towards iPosture is wreaking havoc on our bodies. What’s iPosture, you ask? If you’re hunched over a device, you’ve got iPosture. (1) It’s also been referred to as iHunch by New Zealand physiotherapist, Steve August. (2) Do you remember when a dowager's hump could only be seen on a little old lady? Well, that's no longer the case - thanks to smartphones and other tech devices, the "upper back forward hunch" of the elderly is no longer age-specific. August has been studying and treating the iHunch for 30 years. And this posture isn't just bad for our muscles and joints - it also impacts our mood: "the slouchy, collapsed position we take when using our phones actually makes us less assertive — less likely to stand up for ourselves when the situation calls for it".
August and his colleagues found that the smaller the electronic device, the more insidious the effect: "the smaller the device, the more you must contract your body to use it, and the more shrunken and inward your posture, the more submissive you are likely to become."
Poor posture affects you physically, mentally and emotionally. You’ve heard me talk about the physical effects of iPosture - misalignment in your body that leads to joint pain and weak and/or tight muscles. But did you know that how you hold your body also affects your attitude and self-esteem? If you haven’t seen Amy Cuddy’s seminal 2012 TEDTalk, take a moment to watch it:
As Cuddy says, “Two minutes is all you need…Tiny tweaks lead to big changes.” Cuddy and her colleagues had research participants assume “powerful” or “powerless” poses for 2 minutes and they then measured their hormone levels.
The results? The hormonal changes in their brain chemistry showed increased confidence and risk-taking for those who had done power poses; while the powerless posers had decreased confidence and risk-taking. In essence, the powerless poses had increased their stress hormone (cortisol) and decreased their risk-taking hormone (testosterone).
Defining Power Poses
“The high-power poses were both expansive (meaning that the body took up a significant amount of space) and open (meaning that the limbs were held far away from the body), and the low-power poses were constricted and clenched”. (1, p. 199)
Power Poses and the Link to Exercise
Amy Cuddy has just published a book called “Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges”, where she delves more deeply into how your body affects your mind. It’s social science meets fitness in a great read: “By adopting open, expansive postures, we make ourselves feel better…more powerful, confident, and assertive, less stressed and anxious, and happier and more optimistic.” (p. 207)
Open posture…expansive…this sounds to me like a job for an Essentrics posture fix!
According to a recent Fast Company review of the connection between posture and mood, people in slouched positions recall negative traits and powerless feelings about themselves more easily. (4) Conversely, people who are sitting up straight - i.e., with improve posture - more readily recall positive traits and empowering thoughts about themselves.
This month’s appearance on Daytime Ottawa was all about improving your posture to improve your mood. Take a look:
A 2-minute Essentrics Posture Fix
If you don’t have time to watch my latest appearance, I’ll summarize the exercises below:
Images courtesy of Pixabay - copyright-free images: https://pixabay.com
Amanda Sterczyk is a Certified Personal Trainer (ACSM), an Exercise is Medicine Canada (EIMC) Fitness Professional, and a Certified Essentrics® Instructor. She offers in-home personal training in central Ottawa. Amanda specializes in helping older adults maintain and increase strength, flexibility, and mobility. No fitness goal is too small, in her opinion.