Fix Your Posture, Improve Your Digestion
How Posture Influences Digestive Health
Digestion problems are one of the most common issues facing 21st century humans.
Type “bloating” into almost any search engine and you will get over 55,000,000 results. IBS over 68,000,000.
Unfortunately, many of the results will take you to websites hawking extreme diets and overpriced supplements that may not even help very much.
I’m not saying that there are no diets and supplements that can improve digestion. Many people swear by products like peppermint oil capsules, L-Glutamine, Acacia fiber, and many others.
Vegan and keto diets have also been promoted for their ability to help heal the gastrointestinal tract and ease many digestive symptoms.
But there are some simpler things you can do to enhance digestion and even improve symptoms.
Common symptoms like gas, bloating, constipation, and heartburn don’t always necessitate more extreme measures like drastically altering diet or taking medications and supplements.
Although you should always consult a physician for serious digestive issues, there are several ways you can improve general digestive health and even remedy common problems like gas, bloating, and constipation.
Posture and Digestion
The human body was not designed to sit in the ways we typically do on any given day. We sit in chairs hunched over computers. We recline on couches, sometimes with out feet propped up on coffee tables. We lie in bed watching TV with our heads propped up on two thick pillows.
Most people associate the dysfunctional ways we sit with problems like back and neck pain.
But very few consider that posture can have an impact on digestive health.
The truth is that posture has a major effect on the way we digest our food.
Numerous studies have shown that proper posture can have a big effect on digestion. By standing and sitting properly, it’s possible to improve such symptoms as gas, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Good posture when standing or walking can help move gas out of the gut in a more efficient way.
You may have been taught that you should never lie down right after eating. While this might be beneficial advice for someone suffering from gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD), it is not always the best course for someone with other digestive issues.
Some digestive symptoms can be brought about through chronic stress. A relaxed posture, such as when we lie down, may help to shift our bodies out of a stressful state. Right after a meal, provided you don’t have a problem with GERD or heartburn, lying down could relax your body and allow greater circulation to the digestive system.
This change in posture and relaxation can not only tamper down stress hormones, but in turn it could also keep the right muscles relaxed at just the right time (after a meal).
Some studies indicate that many IBS sufferers — especially those who complain of bloating and gas — have weakened oblique muscles, which can cause the diaphragm to relax too much when the stomach gets full. This can push things into too small of a space in the stomach and lead to bloating.
Relaxation can actually help to remedy this kind of bloating.
If you choose to try this technique after a meal, make sure that you lie flat on a bed or on the floor. Ensure that your shoulders are fully flat against the surface you are lying on. It’s fine to use a small pillow provided it doesn’t elevate your head excessively.
People who slouch or demonstrate a posture with hunched over shoulders can have digestive issues due to weakened abdominal muscles and a constriction of movement of the diaphragm. Learning to relax the diaphragm can be of great benefit.
Strengthen AND Stretch
It’s also of great benefit for digestive health to not only strengthen the abdominal muscles but also to stretch them. Doing ab work such as crunches, planks, and sit ups is great. They assist in improving circulation to the digestive system.
However, focusing solely on contracting the abs can lead to these muscles staying tight. To counter this you can follow all contracting exercises with extension exercises.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to do this is through the Cobra Pose.
These techniques are quick and simple and cost nothing to try. It’s worth reiterating that you should always consult a physician when symptoms are severe or longstanding.