Posture is not only about how you look or how good you feel, it’s also about cognitive function. If you have ever walked into a classroom you would have noticed two types of students; the ones sitting up straight and engaged in learning and the ones slouched and unengaged in learning. But what does this mean?
Studies have shown that students who had better posture ultimately had better cognitive function, meaning they were able to learn more, retain more information and stay alert during class. They were able to study more efficiently and have to spend less time studying than their peers with bad posture and ultimately performed better in school.
How is this possible?
Posture and the nervous system are directly connected. The connection between arousal, consciousness and motivation in relation to posture is found in the brainstem within the reticular activating system. This is a network of nerve pathways in the brainstem connecting the spinal cord to the brain. This system also mediates the overall level of consciousness and is an important gatekeeper of information that is allowed into the conscious mind.
Dr. Joel Goldthwait, a renowned surgeon from Harvard Medical School had some very interesting findings on this subject. When performing surgery he noticed that abdominal nerves and blood vessels were under tension in individuals whose bodies are out of alignment. He also reported stretching and kinking of the vertebral arteries and veins in those whose necks were chronically bent. Dr. Goldthwait found that the malposition of an organ will disturb its function, for example those with ‘faulty body mechanics’ ie: bad posture displayed various cardiac problems that impaired circulatory efficiency. He concluded that you should align your body parts with gravity in order to experience less wear and tear on your body as a whole, in turn this also makes more energy available because when you’re out of alignment you’re more inefficient as well.
So how can we prevent poor posture and how do we fix it?
Good posture is a result of education, habit, good muscle flexibly, normal motion in the joints, strong postural muscles, balance of muscles on both sides of the spine as well as a properly functioni