Digestion Problems? Fix Your Plumbing with Proper Posture

If you have trouble with indigestion and spend your workday slumped behind a desk, then your frequent heartburn, bloating, gas or constipation might have more to do with posture than with the food-truck burrito you scarfed at lunch. Slouching with hunched shoulders and/or forward head position compresses the midsection and the digestive system, aggravating the digestive process. 

Burrito Lifecycle: How Your Digestive System Works

The digestive system, or gastrointestinal (GI) tract, helps you eat food, break it down, absorb nutrition and expel the rest.

  • First, your mouth takes a bite. Salivary glands aid chewing. Then, you swallow.
  • The esophagus then moves food to the stomach.
  • The stomach expands and contracts, mixing food with digestive enzymes and healthy bacteria. 
  • Partially digested food, called chyme, then moves into the small intestine where it is mixed with even more digestive enzymes and hormones. In the small intestine, the circulatory system absorbs nutrients, like carbohydrates and protein, to transport them to cells throughout the body. 
  • Waste products from food then move into the large intestine, from which they will be expelled from your body during your next bathroom break. 

Throughout this process, your nerves, blood, microbiome, hormones and organs work together to feed and fuel your body through the process of digestion. The digestive system works best when you practice proper posture, which places the gastrointestinal tract is in an upright position and allows blood to flow freely to abdominal organs. 

Two Ways Poor Posture Interrupts Burrito Digestion

  1. Hinders Peristalsis - During peristalsis, the walls of organs like the esophagus and intestines contract and expand to push food through the digestive system. When the body is hunched over, these organs become compressed and blocked. As a result, they have to work much harder to transport the food you eat to the next step in the digestive process. 
  2. Restricts Circulation - The circulatory system delivers the water, hormones and other enzymes necessary for digestion to your digestive system. The circulatory system also transports nutrients from food to the rest of the body. Poor posture hinders the free flow of your circulatory system, and slows digestion. 

How to Practice Proper Posture (Post-Lunch) for Better Burrito Digestion

When seated, a naturally aligned spinal column signifies proper posture. To achieve healthy spinal alignment, make sure your shoulders are down and back (sort of squeezed together). Your chin should be tucked in, elongating the spine at the back of your neck. Core abdominal muscles should also be engaged, providing support to your upper body. 

To improve posture, practice all of the time (sitting or standing). You can work on strengthening your core muscles to better support proper posture. If you have a difficult time remembering to sit upright or need a bit more support around your properly aligned spine, consider using a posture-promoting device, like Posture Keeper, to maintain proper posture while sitting at your desk throughout the workday. 

If you always practice proper posture, you can visit your favorite lunch spots and enjoy burritos every day without worrying about suffering unpleasant consequences like heart burn, constipation, indigestion or (eek!) gas in the office.