Whether you are one of the 70 million Americans with digestive diseases, or you simply overate at dinner last night, that bloated, uncomfortable feeling after eating is something you’d likely rather avoid. Dietary choices are fundamental, usually…but, maybe not for Thanksgiving.
Here’s an idea you’ve likely never considered before: the role of posture in digestion.
Any kind of misalignment can alter how the organs relate spatially to one another, impacting the digestive processes as a result. The tilt of the pelvis is especially crucial. The pelvis serves as the floor to all the vital organs in the body. If the hips are out of whack, it creates a cascade of misalignment in the curve of the spine, pushing the transverse colon (the longest part of the large intestine) up to the chest cavity, impinging the nerve that triggers the diaphragm, preventing it from helping the colon contract. This can lead to a buildup of waste and gas in the body.
“For good digestion, it is important to have proper body alignment so that blood flow is provided to all of the internal organs, especially those of the digestive tract,” says Dana Ellis Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., a senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center.
But remember, everything is connected. You’d think that because the intestines sit in the low stomach that alignment of the hips is the only focus. “But the position of the rib cage is the roof of intestinal protection,” says Bradley. “We’re working from both ends of the house here.” Putting your shoulders into better alignment shifts your spine, then your low back, and so on—aligning from the top down. Once your shoulders are in a better position, you breathe better, and when you breathe better (over 22,000 times a day) your diaphragm drops down and compresses the internal organs. This up and down compression aids peristalsis—the wave-like contractions that push food through the digestive tract.
Restoring our body’s natural positioning through movement & mobility stretching allows your body to do its job, but it also ensures good circulation and aids in delivering oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, reducing the likelihood of bloating, gas, and acid reflux. Then you can sit comfortably on the couch to watch your favorite team win!