Postural collapse compresses the rib cage, much like having an elephant sit on your chest. Well, maybe not like an elephant, but it does cause considerable and unnatural pressure on a heart requiring the right position and enough room to function properly.
The shape and size of the rib cage decides the shape and size of the heart. Inside a collapsed rib cage, heart muscles have little room to move and must work harder to pump blood and oxygen to all parts of the body. Heart muscles react the same as other overworked muscles, increasing in size and cause heart enlargement. Increasing the work of the heart can raise heart rate, decrease the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and bring on anginal pain.
The heart rises and falls with the diaphragm and changes its shape and position with each breath that we take. A collapsed body position inhibits natural heart movement, critical to cardio-pulmonary circulation, heart muscle tone and return blood flow to the right side of the heart. The full action of the diaphragm and the position of the heart are partially or wholly lost with the downward sag of the rib cage, caused by postural collapse.
Abdominal compression, caused by postural collapse, also puts pressure on blood flow to and from the heart from all parts of the body. Compressed arteries and veins can be crimped, change in size and shape, damage arterial walls and increase blood pressure. Relieving compression on the heart and on arterial/venous blood flow can help heart problems and poor circulation.
Erect body alignment will put the heart in the best position to function well and is the key to good cardio-pulmonary performance. Improve your posture and you will be helping your heart.
Diane Whitacre, Structural Anatomist, RT ©2017