How Does Posture Affect Gut Health

So recently we bought a sit-stand desk for our makeshift home office now that we work from home more. I’m hoping that this can help us improve our posture and encourage us to move a little more while focusing on work. I also notice that sometimes I’m slouching even when I sit at the dinner table! I remember how my mom used to bug me about my slouching when I was little. And now I know that good posture is not just for the good confident look, but it can also affect our gut health.

Image from McGill Athletics

Here’s how poor posture can affect our gut health:

Poorer intestinal motility

Poor posture compresses the abdominal organs involved in digestion which then reduces peristaltic function (the movement of food through the digestive system). This causes undigested food to sit in our gut for too long and can lead to gas, bloating, constipation, and acid reflux. 

Lower stomach acid production (indigestion)

When we tilt our head down to work on our laptops or swipe new feeds on the phone, we compress the vagus nerve and this causes impair nerve signalling (ultimately our body doesn’t response as they should). The vagus nerve run from the brain stem, through the diaphragm and to the gut. It stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid which breaks down food in the stomach. So poor posture can lower the production of stomach acid.

Impaired function of enteric nervous system

The central nervous system is intertwined with the gut’s nerves (aka the enteric nervous system). So tension in the spine and the central nervous system can also put tension on to the gut.

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is when you leak a little urine if you laugh or cough. This is because slouching increases abdominal pressure, which puts pressure on the bladder. The position also decreases the ability of the pelvic floor muscles to hold against that pressure

Constipation

Poor posture, particularly when sitting on the toilet, can lead to constipation. A proper posture is almost like squatting – with knees raising higher than the hips as oppose to a 90 degrees hips to knees to feet position. This helps relax and straighten the rectum so that the evacuation can be complete without creating too much tension.

This image demonstrates the proper potty posture so well!

image from Shutterstock

Here’s a Video on how forward head posture (when you tilt your head down to text for example, which many of us do) can cause digestive problem.

Resources:

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