There might not seem to be a strong connection between body posture and other chronic conditions, but you will soon realize the body’s systems are incredibly intertwined.
The chronic stress response affects posture, and conversely posture affects the chronic stress response. For that reason focusing on improving your posture is a great way to reduce Neuro-Imbalance, which is why it’s included in the DICE protocol.
Good posture stimulates the parasympathetic (recovery and healing) part of the nervous system, which reduces the release of stress hormones and promotes the release of growth and repair hormones including testosterone.* Good posture also affects the other parasympathetic responses like digestion, reduced blood pressure, improved mood, and others. In addition to these positive side effects, good posture has an especially strong effect on breathing. Bad posture not only sends signals to the brain that promote short shallow breaths, the hunched over position of bad posture physically limits your ability to take deep, full breaths. Good posture allows you to use your diaphragm to breathe more deeply and get more oxygen into your body.
Our bodies were designed to move efficiently. Posture is the body’s attempt to keep us upright in the strongest, most stable and efficient way possible. Because every person is unique, good posture varies from person to person. Despite these differences there are some characteristics that everyone with good posture will share.
We are all designed to have our ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and ears roughly lined up vertically. This probably comes as no surprise to you. We all instinctively know what good posture looks like. (It’s one of the major ways we subconsciously interpret attractiveness.) The problem is that few of us have a realistic view of our own posture.
This exercise should be done daily. Good posture is built from the ground up. The only way to eliminate head-forward posture, and the discomfort and pain it causes, is to remove the excess curvature of the lower back. Only when the excess curvature of the lower back is reduced can the other exercises presented below start bringing your head back into alignment.
This is one of the simplest exercises for good posture.
When doing this exercise, move your head back with slow steady pressure—no jerking or straining. And exert only as much pressure against your hands as is comfortable (Novak 2006, 24).
Despite its name, this quick stretch can be done any time of day. Here’s how.
This is one of our favorite exercises because it includes both a posture exercise and a breathing exercise (Adams 2011). That means fewer exercises to worry about throughout the day. Make this part of your daily routine.
This is a simple but powerful exercise that fires up the PMRF and gets your brain to start sending good posture signals to your back and neck muscles.
With this exercise you want to focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Also be sure to keep your head level, the back of your head against the wall, and your pelvis tucked under so that your low back is as flat against the wall as possible. If you have severe head-forward posture and cannot get or keep the back of your head against the wall, hold your head back as far as you can without pain. (Don’t look up and tilt your head back to get it close to the wall; it’s important that your head remains level, eyes looking forward.)
The rhomboids are muscles that attach your shoulder blade to your spine. In a healthy person with good posture, the rhomboids keep the shoulders opened up and prevent them from rolling toward the front. If you have lost the muscle tone that keeps your shoulders back, this exercise will help you strengthen those muscles (Novak 2006, 32).
As you progress in strength, move your hold on the band closer together to decrease the space between each hand and increase the tension.
This exercise really fires up the PMRF. The name of this exercise is a bit misleading. You aren’t actually going to be moving your head at all. You are simply going to be resisting the forward pressure of the exercise band. This requires that you use the muscles that hold your head back.
You can adjust the tension on the band (making this exercise more or less difficult) by increasing or decreasing the space between your hands.