Sarah Holgen MS, CNS
Can bad posture actually make a difference in your nerve and gut health? Absolutely!
Want to help strengthen your Vagus Nerve?….
Fix your posture!!!
Can you drive faster on a straight road or a really curvy road?
…. The answer is obvious.
The same thing happens to your vagus nerve/spinal column and the speed at which it can deliver information! Crooked spine or poor posture = sub-optimal nerve signals… Lets dive into WHY!?
When we have poor posture, our faces jut forward, neck protrudes forward and upper back hunches. Think about the following postures:
Time you spend hunched over on a phone + the time you spend on a computer hunched over + time spent watching TV hunched over + driving hunched over + being on an iPad + reading!!!…. All that equals to a lot of time to have a regulatory nervous system not functioning how it should.
This forward hunched position puts a lot of pressure on the back of the neck where our cervical spine exists. Our cervical spine at C1 and C2 are where our vagus nerve comes out of the brain stem and travels through these two neck vertebrae before they go on to do magic ALL OVER THE BODY.
C1 and C2 are like tunnels, and if we have chronic poor posture where we are hunched forward and slouched, this causes these tunnels not to be aligned anymore and can cause slight pinching of this nerve. Basically what I’m trying to tell you is that when we slouch, your brain has a harder time communicating with your body.
The vagus nerve is the master regulator of so many functions and when we pinch or damage this nerve long term through chronic bad posture it can cause:
PINCHED or DAMAGED VAGUS NERVE CAN CAUSE:
Poor digestion - SIBO, acid reflux, constipation, cramping and bloating.
Poor heart rate variability - this means that your heart has a harder time responding to needs of more or less oxygen in the body and is not as resilient.
Poor lung function - the vagus nerve regulates breathing patterns and could mean that the body isn’t able to get enough oxygen, breathe out waste products as easily, or able to fight off infections as easily (think chronic coughs, bronchitis and recurrent chest colds).
Poor detoxification - if digestive organs are offline then detox is suboptimal.
HOW TO FIX THIS!
Correct posture physically aligns 3 things:
Chin stacked on top of collar bones, collar bones stacked on sacrum.
Try this with me right now:
Pull the chin back in space. You should keep your gaze/face straight forward and have a beautiful little double chin and that means you’re doing it right!!! Alignment is most important. Keep your gaze straight forward and pull the chin straight back into the neck. If this step is hard or uncomfortable for you, practice drawing the chin back in space and hold for 5-10 seconds and release. Repeat this along with step 2 throughout the day until your neck gets strong enough to hold it there all the time.
Pull your shoulders back and down. Once your chin is pulled back in step 1, take the shoulders and roll them as far back and down as you are able without straining. It should feel like you are flexing the muscles in your back to keep your shoulder blades tucked down and if its hard to do then that means you get to practice it more. Being in a hunched position all the time make our back muscles very weak and strained so it may take a week or two for your back muscles to start to gain strength. KEEP AT IT!
This feels extremely awkward and uncomfortable, I KNOW! Its only because your body has trained itself to think that slouching is normal, but you have to retrain yourself! Only you can do it! Your back might get sore the first week or so but keep at it, drink lots of water and you’ll become stronger in no time. Plus, your nervous system will have one less thing slowing it down!
There are other causes of vagus nerve dysfunction like concussion, whiplash, chronic stress, heavy metals, toxins and intestinal dysbiosis but those are for another blog coming soon!
The take away of this post is to get you to sit up straight and change your lifestyle! Sitting with excellent posture almost makes you feel like you are posing for an action movie, and gives a small inkling of confidence and commanding presence. I 10/10 recommend for a confidence boost.
Thanks for reading!