Most of us can hear the echoing voices in our minds of our mothers and grandmothers,  “sit up straight”, “stand up straight”.  They were right.    The collection of data, we call research, begins to tell a story behind what our grandmothers said regarding posture.  As psychology and human factors continue the climb ladders of research and understanding, postures convey more than a good or bad habit.  Postures reveal your emotions, perceptions of yourself, and certainly, how others perceive you.

Posture helps good or negative memory recall

Research: a learning curve that helps to shape how we think, do, and act.  Research is a type of cell phone, many individuals rely heavily upon it, and would be in a quandary without it.   History of mankind continually exposes that the peoples of the world had considerable amounts of knowledge about many things; there was no research to substantiate it.  We now rely on great historians to support the knowledge of the past.   Much of human knowledge can be considered “common sense”:  do not walk and then stop in front a fast-moving vehicle if you want to live.  Much of human knowledge also has varied parameters of opinions and conjectures, creating confusion in decision making for some.  In the case of posture and different memory recalls, research does affirm erect posture will elicit better memory recall of good memories in contrast to slouching posture will recall a higher percentage of depressing memories (Erik Peper, PhD, BCB, et al., 2017).   Many of us, when we stop and think, can relate times of trouble, we might remember slouching, almost an attempt to hide our faces.  When assuming that posture, those unhappy and troublesome memories are easier to recall.

                TAKE HOME POINT

When experiencing troubling times, sit up and stand up erect.  Use your memory to facilitate positive changes that are often required when traveling through those valleys.

5 Postures, 5 Emotions

A very interesting study conducted by a group of researchers at Psychological Sciences, University of California, Merced, CA, USA, (Eric A. Walle, et al., 2017) used actors to portray 5 emotions: joy, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust.   An interesting point is the study used photoshop to remove the actors’ heads and changed all photos into the same grey color as to remove as much outside influence.  The focus was to only view the body, without the facial expression, as facial expressions, in past research reveal inconsistencies (Allison Winters, 2005).  Anger, fear, and disgust were the most often chosen, 79%, correctly by the participants that viewed the photos.  Joy and sadness had variations yet were considered to still have statistical significance.

 

Postures do display our internal emotional state, without looking at the face.  I venture to say most of us have watched people moving about and we automatically perceive something about that person.

TAKE HOME POINT

There is always someone watching you.  If you are planning an interview, an important meeting with the organization’s decision makers, a first date, your posture is talking when your lips may not be moving.

First impressions are your posture.

Postures in the Form of Exercise Movements

Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong have a common thread: static and dynamic postures that are specific in length of time a posture is held, the sequencing of the posture, and the movement that takes place shifting from one posture to another.  As a physical therapist and provider for employee injury prevention, these forms of “exercise”, are remarkably familiar.   The fourth common thread that yoga, tai chi, and qigong have, as compared to exercise equipment, is the mindfulness that is integrated into these forms of exercise.  History shows that these types of body and mind exercise movements are to bring the body and mind together to create a harmony of the two.  Harmony brings on homeostasis, which, in turn, allows a calm emotional state of being, safety, and facilitates physical healing. American western thinking wrestles with this concept from gyms to medicine: the body and mind are separate, even though the human body and mind are one (Budiman Minasny, 2009).  Body work therapists are very familiar with this concept as emotions from the past are often elicited when performing bodywork on a client (Bruno Bordoni1, et al., 2014).

 

Salient to these types of mind-body exercise, is the relaxation response created.  Fascia, a large organ that is the holding matrix in the body is only just beginning to surface with research that correlates and upholds the mind and body as one.

 

“The number of receptors in the fascia far outnumber those in the muscle and around the joint [55,56]. Within these mechanoreceptors, the majority of input comes from the interstitial receptors that are intimately connected to the autonomic nervous system. Stimulation of these intrafascial mechanoreceptors leads to an altered proprioceptive input to the central nervous system, which then results in a changed tonus regulation of motor units associated with this tissue. The result is relaxed, freer moving and more pliable tissue.”

Meditative Movement, Energetic, and Physical Analyses of Three Qigong Exercises: Unification of Eastern and Western Mechanistic Exercise Theory

Penelope Klein 1,*, George Picard 1,2, Joseph Baumgarden 1 and Roger Schneider 2

 

Also, in conjunction with how fascia behaves and is directly linked to the central nervous system is how this tissue, when moved properly reduces inflammatory responses and assists with DNA repair, (Penelope Kline, et al., 2017).   New theoretical models of how the mind and body are connected are a frontier for physical, emotional, and healing capabilities of the human body.

            TAKE HOME POINT

  • Emotions directly affect your posture
  • Practicing mind-body exercises evokes the body’s relaxation response that facilitates stable emotions, allows for the body for physical healing, and increases physical stature and abilities

 

What has this to do with Safety in the Workplace?

 

Postures can certainly reveal our emotions internally.  If we can allow ourselves to learn, recognize, then change, our emotional stability will preserve us from accidents at work, home, or sport.  Changing your posture via some of the topics discussed, will also have a direct affect on your peers at work and family, not to mention your emotional stability and well-being.

 

Well-being ranks high in organizational surveys.  Most of us, in our American culture, are facing exceedingly more stressful situations, out of our control.  In the workplace, it is important for our emotions to be stable; not the yo-yo, the ups and downs, from a look, a word, added assignments, we are now thinking this is our new normal.  No, it is not your new normal.  How we change by being proactive will change us and others in a positive manner.

References

Allison Winters, M. (2005). Perceptions of Body Posture and Emotion: A Question of Methodology. The New School Psychology Bulletin, Volume 3, No. 2,.

Bruno Bordoni1, et al. (2014). Skin, fascias, and scars: symptoms and systemic connections. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 2014:7 11–24.

Budiman Minasny, P. (2009). Understand the Process of Fascial Unwinding. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF THERAPEUTIC MASSAGE AND BODYWORK, VOLUME 2, NUMBER 3,.

Eric A. Walle, et al. (2017). Postural Communication of Emotion: Perception of Distinct Poses of Five Discrete Emotions. Frontiers in Psychology, 0.3389/fpsyg.2017.00710.

Erik Peper, PhD, BCB, et al. (2017). How Posture Affects Memory Recall and Mood. Biofeedback, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp. 36–41.

Penelope Kline, et al. (2017). Meditative Movement, Energetic, and Physical Analyses of Three Qigong Exercises: Unification of the Eastern and Western Mechanistic Exercise Theory. Medicines, 4, 69; doi:10.3390.