Having spent last month hunched over my laptop fighting with my new website design and inept skills with technology I am reminded of the significant link between body posture and how it affects subjective energy levels. ‘Subjective’ is used here as it is the subjective response from the individual. Many studies have been done on this of course – ‘Increase or Decrease Depression: How Body Postures influence Your Energy Level’ by Erik Peper, PhD and I-Mei Lin, PhD – is one which I looked at during my Pilates studies. In this study they looked at slouched versus skipping postures and the affect on mood. There were no real surprises in their results – the slouched, closed posture walking causing participants to experience a decrease in energy and the skipping action creating an opposite lift in energy levels. In Pilates we are aware of the mind-body relationship and especially in my Performing Arts teaching we often discuss body language, movement communication and can identify postures of negativity, helplessness or happiness and hope.
What is interesting to reflect upon from this study is the very clear approach established to depression by treatment of medication or cognitive behavioural therapy, and yet little consideration in the wider medical scientific community for body movement and posture as an alternative or even wholly appropriate competitor of medication in some cases. The research study sites an investigation of the antidepressant Zoloft comparing Zoloft alone, Zoloft with Exercise and exercise alone in which the results clearly show that those participants who did exercise alone had the smallest percentage of relapse and that by the end of the 10 months had the least percentage still certified depressed. Movement or exercise approaches should most definitely be considered alongside the treatment of depression, low mood, anxiety (and no doubt in a individual manner – 1:1’s, small exercises, maybe a session with a friend – not to join a big class and good luck to you!) But imagine if more people of influence could prescribe Pilates!
The ever technological world is creating a human species that cannot look away from their phones, tablets and laptops and then wonders why they have aches, pains, anxiety, low moods etc. Poor posture and poor content and poor mobility combined! The link is clear, evidenced by many studies like these and becoming more and more prominent….showcased within social media no less! This was nothing I didn’t already know but in reading this research paper it continued to consolidate my knowledge and give me further evidence to draw upon in discussion with clients. It has also reminded me of the need to observe client posture more closely and to continue to encourage them into more positive ways of sitting and walking, reassuring them that Pilates will assist and direct new, healthier patterning.
In Polestar Pilates you often hear us declare “Sitting is the new smoking, let Pilates be the new pill!”
Written as I check my own posture and consider my mood! – it is hopeful and inquisitive, I am sat upright on my sitting bones, feet flat on the floor at a table typing. My body finds this a relief after days of slouched agony and stress and I am reminded of the power of my own awareness to help heal.