Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Power Poses for more Testosterone and less Cortisol

I was reading an article online the other day and it reference a study called Power posing: Brief Non Verbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels and Risk Tolerance.

In this study a group of people were randomly assigned to one of two groups.  One group had open postures, the other group had closed postures.  There were two postures in each group.  Each posture was held for one minute.  Before and after saliva tests were done as well as a dice game for gambling that assessed risk behavior.

Those assigned to the open postures, see photos below, showed an increase in Testosterone and a drop in Cortisol, as well as more risk taking tendencies.  The opposite was true for the closed postures.  The open postures take up more space.  The closed postures shrink the person.

The implications could be pretty cool.  Will you have your athletes hold power poses before a big lift.  Have an important job interview and need a boost in confidence.  Are you trying to increase self esteem in a teenager?

The opposite is also true.  Bad posture can also lead to poor outcomes.  You're Moms old advice to sit up straight and quit slouching takes on new implications.  As a manual therapist dealing with lowback pain there's more evidence on how we need to break the negative feedback loop cycle to deal with cortisol.  How often have you seen a lowback pain patient not able to stand up straight,  they look small and crumpled up.

Physical movement continues to make more and more headlines.  A few years ago, smiling was shown, even if physically depressed,  to cause the release of endorphins and serotonin.  Even when they are fake. Now poses have been shown to increase or decrease testosterone and cortisol.  The article goes on to basically sum it up with the old adage, "Fake it till you make it."

The way you carry yourself affects your neuroendocrine pathways.  Your are in control of way more then you think you are!

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