How important is posture to you? Have you thought about it? When you go to a job interview do you think about it? How about when you go on a date? Maybe you do not think about your posture but do you think about the posture of others. What do you think about a person who has their shoulders slumped and belly out? What kind of image or interpretation comes to mind? Can I trust this person, is this person a model of productivity, can I trust them to come through for me and get the job done? Posture is a very important aspect of our health and well-being but, “Despite considerable evidence that posture affects physiology and function, the significant influence of posture on health is not addressed by most physicians.”1 What we see and how we are seen plays a large part of our daily lives and influences greatly what we may be working to achieve with our families and in our careers.

Posture influences many body functions. “Spinal pain, headache, mood, blood pressure, pulse, and lung capacity are among the functions most easily influenced by posture.”1 As the head moves forward all measures of health status are significantly reduced. 2 Rene Cailliet, Director of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Southern California, concluded that forward head posture can add up to thirty (30) pounds of abnormal leverage on the spine, reduce lung capacity by as much as 30%, which can lead to heart and blood vascular disease. He determined a relationship between forward head posture and the digestive system as well as endorphin production affecting pain and the experience of pain.3

Posture affects how you look and how you feel but it can have more profound effects as well. A study in 2004 reported that bad posture can increase mortality.4 It was discovered that an increased curvature of the mid back produces higher mortality rates in the elderly. Remember the days when grandma would tell us to sit up straight well it is time to check her posture and make sure she is not creating any unnecessary risk. The most dramatic study though comes from England where it was found that loss of height increases the risk of heart diease. As a part of the British Regional Heart Study scientists found that men who lost 3cm in height were 64% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who lost less than 1cm and that over the 20-year period of the study, men lost an average of 1.67cm, and that height loss was associated with a 42% increased risk of heart attacks, even in men who had no history of cardiovascular disease.

Posture is an extremely important indicator of health and one that is poorly addressed by the present model of health care. In a world where of incredible technological advances and access to information it is puzzling to see something so obvious so overlooked. Hopefully a profession arises that takes this poorly addressed, but highly important aspect of health, into deep consideration and creates a significant model to restructure and reorganize how we look and health and well-being and give people new options to improve their quality of life and vitality.

  1. Lennon J., Shealy C., Cady R., Matta W., Cox R., Simpson W. Postural and Respiratory Modulation of Autonomic Function, Pain, and Health. AJPM 1994; 4:36-39.
  2. Glassman, Steven D. MD; Bridwell, Keith MD; Dimar, John R. MD; Horton, William MD; Berven, Sigurd MD; Schwab, Frank MD. The Impact of Positive Sagittal Balance in Adult Spinal Deformity Spine: 15 September 2005 – Volume 30 – Issue 18 – pp 2024-2029
  3. Cailliet R, M.D., Gross L, Rejuvenation Strategy. New York, Doubleday Co. 1987.
  4. Kado, Deborah M. MD, MS, Huang, Mei-Hua DrPH; Karlamangla, Arun S. MD, PhD, Barrett-Connor, Elizabeth MD, Greendale, Gail A. MD.  Hyperkyphotic Posture Predicts Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Men and Women: A Prospective Study.  Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 52(10):1662-1667, October 2004.
  5. Wannamethee, S.G. and Shaper, A.G. and Lennon, L. and Whincup, P.H. Height loss in older men: associations with total mortality and incidence of Cardiovascular disease. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166 (22). pp. 2546-2552. 2006.
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