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The Power of Good Posture: Slouching Can Make You Feel Weak

Apr 29, 2012 11:18AM

Mother’s warnings against slouching were correct. Recent research proves that poor posture not only makes a bad impression, it can make us feel physically weaker. The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, explored the relationship of posture and pain tolerance and found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, individuals can feel more powerful, in control and better able to tolerate distress. More, those studied using the most dominant posture were able to comfortably tolerate more pain than others assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.

People tend to curl up into a ball when in pain, but the University of Southern California researchers recommend doing the opposite—try sitting or standing up straight, lifting the chin, pushing out the chest and generally expanding the body shape. They suggest that these small, yet empowering, changes in behavior can decrease sensitivity to pain. Adopting a powerful posture may even affect the body’s hormone levels, boosting testosterone, which is associated with increased pain tolerance, and decreasing cortisol, typically released in response to stress.

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