I have a fun experiment for you to try today. This gave me a huge “a-ha” moment – and I think it will you, too.
It’ll only take a few seconds, and (bonus!) you get to do it while you’re sitting down.
All you have to do is hunch over like you’re looking down at your phone. Now, slowly breathe in a big “belly” breath, letting it expand.
Wait, what?! It didn’t work very well, did it?
That’s because your deep core muscles (including your diaphragm) are contracted by the weight of your body. There’s literally no room to expand.
Now, either stand or sit up tall, and take in a deep breath. So much easier, right?
I love this exercise because it literally lets you feel you how much impact your posture has on your breathing. And it also gives some pretty big clues into how it affects other things that happen in your abdomen – including digestion!
Researchers have been busy investigating the link between your posture/core muscles and your gut health, and the results are incredibly interesting.
Now, obviously what you eat (both what kind of food and how much of it) plays a role … but it turns out the actual mechanics of digestion can be impacted by your posture.
First: when you’re slumped over, your breathing is shallow, and that can set up your body to feel anxious or stressed (aka “fight or flight” mode). When your body is under stress, it’s harder for your digestive system to do its job – leading to bloating and gas.
One study found that lying down after eating (relaxing and shutting off the stress response) led to less bloating and better nutrient absorption.
Second: you can feel how slumping can cause actual pressure on your stomach, which can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Another study found that standing up with good posture can relieve bloating and discomfort after eating.
What’s the practical takeaway? If you find yourself slumped forward a lot in what’s called “forward head” posture – which is super common now because we’re always on our phones or computers – the muscles in your core actually can become weak/contracted. Your head alone can add 30 pounds of pressure!
This sets off a chain reaction of events, and it can cause neck, back, and shoulder pain.
The good news is you can strengthen your core muscles and restore proper functioning, so your body can relearn what normal “good” posture looks and feels like!
It all starts with being mindful of your posture and also working your deep core muscles with exercises like planks, bird dogs, etc.
If you need any help with this, I’m here to provide guidance and support!
Make it an amazing day!
Natural Menopause Health-Coach