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Improving your posture could help reduce muscle pain, joint pain and headaches


(NaturalNews) If you often find yourself suffering from neck and back pain, you may have blamed your pillow or even your bed for the discomfort, but the problem might have nothing to do with your furniture and everything to do with the way you carry yourself.

Many of us spend a lot of time hunched over our computers, looking down at our phones or keeping our heads down while walking to avoid making eye contact with strangers, and this is having an adverse effect on our energy levels. A downward gaze serves to contract flexor muscles in the front of your body, and we need to counteract this by activating the extensor muscles in our backs to remain upright.

While it's not surprising that having the correct posture can help to diminish headaches, muscle pain and joint strain, few people are aware of the connection between your posture and your emotional health.

Study links poor posture to low energy, depression

A new study out of San Francisco State University found a link between poor posture and lower levels of energy as well as depression. Feeling depressed and low on energy is not a great combination, and it's one that can even drive people to their doctor to seek out a cure – which, more often than not, ends up being antidepressants. Given the numerous scary side effects of these mind-altering drugs and the black box warning on suicide, it's pretty disturbing to think that at least some of these individuals might have been helped by posture improvements instead.

Not only can carrying yourself properly boost your mood, but it can also help enhance your sense of control and power. Harvard Business School social psychologist, Amy C. J. Cuddy, says that when you hold your body in a manner that opens it up and occupies space, it can actually alter the levels of hormones in your body and make you feel more powerful and more open to taking risks.

The next time you catch yourself reaching for your favorite organic coffee because you're low on energy, why not also try to sit properly? If you want to get your posture back in line, there are a few things you can do right away.

Get your posture back in line

First of all, elevate your computer screen at work. If you work on a laptop, consider investing in a laptop stand and an external keyboard; it can make a surprisingly big difference. You should also use a chair that provides some support for your seat bones.

Any time you are standing or sitting, you'll want to aim to be as tall as you can. When you're sitting, make sure your feet are touching the floor and that your body makes a 90-degree angle with your hips, torso and legs. Resist the temptation to cross your legs.

Lift up your chest, and elevate your shoulder blades. Don't let your shoulders drop down; instead, hold them in such a way that they form a 90-degree, squared-off angle.

National Posture Institute executive director, Ken Baldwin, says that 95 percent of people have weak and distorted middle trapezius muscles, so he suggests pulling your shoulder blades back by imagining you are holding a pencil in between them to activate the muscles. He also recommends pressing on your chin with your fingers and pushing it back to help keep your neck in line.

Finally, you should draw your belly button in toward your spine, and keep your core muscles contracted to hold your position. Once you get this right, be sure to check your posture from time to time to make sure that you are still in the proper position. It's easy to slouch and fall back into your old posture habits if you're not paying attention.

By maintaining the proper posture, you will find an increase in your energy, confidence and mood, and headaches, joint pain and muscle pain will become a thing of the past.

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