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Could poor posture affect your digestion?

We are all guilty of poor posture at one time or another aren't we? Maybe you often catch yourself hunched over when you’re sitting, standing, or walking, could that actually be harming your health? Incorrect posture could lead to several problems, including commonly known issues like back pain and spinal issues. But, slumping can also have a variety of less talked about side effects, including digestive problems.

When you think of a young person, what posture comes to mind? Upright, no bends, and very flexible . When you think of an old person, what posture comes to mind? Bent over, hunched shoulders, short stature, maybe a little twisted to one side? Yes this is in fact what happens to some of us as time goes on or does it happen to ALL ages? Think about a moment, could a 6 year old have the posture of a 60 year old? Why? Because of more sitting from the incorrect use of iPads, computers and the reduction in physical activity. So slumping could affect a vast array of people of all ages.

So where is your stomach situated in your body? It is just under the breast line and to the left of your rib cage. When you are sitting and you are hunched over a computer, slouching on your couch or in a poor car seat, you could be placing a lot of continuous pressure right where the stomach sits. Therefore when you start to eat, your diaphragm works to move food through your oesophagus and down to your intestines, with a system to prevent stomach acid from rising up and into your mouth. But, if you eat in a slouched position, you put a whole lot of tension on your diaphragm that its not used to, causing it to stop working as it should. The result of this can be a mixture of acid reflux, heartburn. and bloating – neither of which are very comfortable. So, if you find yourself having to take tablets after you eat to prevent these unwanted problems, it could be time to take a look at your posture as you eat.

The pressure that continuous sitting with poor posture could affect the lower intestines significantly. Food may move through you at a much slower rate and it could be more difficult for the body to move your food through to the end. This this could cause such things - bloating and/or constipation. It literally irritates the bowel. Diarrhoea and loose stools can be common as well.

The other side of this is the neurological supply to the stomach and the intestines. When you have changes in the shape of your spine, this creates interference on how the nerves in this particular area communicate with organs, muscles, glands and tissues of the body. Pressure on the nerves around the mid back region specifically can result in the stomach not functioning properly and you suffer the symptoms of low acidity, high acidity, indigestion, reflux, loss of appetite, etc. Pressure on the nerves in the lower back region can interfere with the messages getting to the lower intestines causing their dysfunction.

Here are some Quick Tips

  • Eating at work – If you eat at your desk at work frequently it’s likely your hunching over your table, bending down to eat, which definitely won’t help with your digestion. To help stop this, make sure you have a comfortable chair that’s optimized to help posture, and hold what you’re eating in your hands, bringing the food to your mouth rather than going down to it.

  • Eating at home – A lot of us have switched to eating at the table for slouching on the sofa, which is terrible for posture. Try and make more of an effort to sit at the table on a proper chair when you eat; this simple change will do wonders for your posture. If you have to sit at your desk, make sure you’re bringing the food to your mouth rather than bending to it, too.

  • Beware of "Text Slouch" - On your smartphone all day long? Take a minute to stretch your neck. When you tilt your head down to check messages it really strains your spine. Over the course of a day -- or year -- that can add up. For a better view, lift the phone up and move your eyes, not your head.

  • Lounging in Bed - Who doesn’t love snuggling under the covers with the remote in one hand and your favorite beverage or snack in the other? But it is probably best to refrain from watching TV while in bed and eating as it could create excessive strain on your neck and lower back and even cause swallowing issues due to the angle you might lay at.

  • Heal Breaker - They might be a fashion yes, but they’re likely a posture no. Pumps and stilettos thrust the base of your spine forward, which over-arches your back. That can change the way your backbone lines up and put pressure on nerves, which causes back pain. Sky-high shoes also put more weight on your knees. Choose a lower, chunky heel for daily wear.

  • Be mindful – Try and think of your posture as you eat, making it a conscious decision to sit straight if your automatic response is to slouch. Eventually, you’ll retrain your brain to automatically sit like this.

  • Workout – Strengthening your core muscles is a great way to improve your posture and help digestion. Take a look at yoga or pilates – both have great, gentle exercises that anyone can do to improve core strength.

Be vigilant, and good posture will contribute to many aspects of your health.

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