If you’ve recently had reflux surgery in Dallas or Ft. Worth, you’ve probably struggled with GERD for a long time. Many people suffer from serious GERD symptoms for years before seeking a long-term solution like reflux surgery, choosing instead to find symptomatic relief by correcting poor habits and eliminating potentially problematic foods.
While it’s very true that lifestyle factors like diet, stress, excess weight and the use of alcohol and tobacco can all be huge contributors to GERD, there is one other factor that many reflux sufferers may not consider– their posture. Slouching can put extra pressure on your stomach and keep the esophagus at an improper angle. This lack of a straight path between the stomach and esophagus can cause your esophageal muscles to spasm, blocking in gas and acid and causing coughing, chest pain and all the other unpleasant symptoms of GERD you know so well.
Poor posture may not be the root cause of your GERD—and correcting it should not be viewed as an alternative to treatments like reflux surgery—but keeping a proper posture can help many GERD sufferers reduce their symptoms.
Here’s why bad posture can have such a huge effect on GERD:
- When you’re sitting slouched, your head, shoulders and chest can weigh heavily on your abdomen. The extra pressure can force stomach contents up into the esophagus through the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), while not having a straight esophagus makes it difficult to release gas by burping.
- When you’re standing slouched, poor posture can cause your esophagus to twist. As gas builds up with no way to be released through the mouth, the pressure in your abdomen will increase, causing reflux symptoms.
Stand Tall, Sit Tall, Beat GERD
If your mother or 3rd grade teacher constantly nagged you to sit up straight, you may be starting to realize what a big favor they were trying to do you. Many of us slouch without realizing it. We spend hours slumped in front of a computer at work only to go home and slouch in front of the TV some more. Whether you’re sitting, standing or sleeping, it’s best to try to stay as straight as possible to create an easy passage between the esophagus and stomach.
Unfortunately, as is evidenced by nagging mothers and 3rd grade teachers everywhere, it isn’t always easy to maintain the proper posture. Even if you set out to stay plank-straight all day, you may inevitably lapse into a lounge when your attention shifts to something else.
Though consulting a physical therapist or chiropractor may help you improve your posture, the most effective way to start sitting straighter is to exercise. By strengthening the muscles that control your posture, you’ll find yourself effortlessly standing and sitting straighter. Just about any exercise from ballroom dancing to sit-ups will help, but remember–to avoid exacerbating symptoms, you should speak with your GERD surgeon before jumping into a new workout.
How else can we improve our posture and beat GERD? Share your tips, experiences and questions with us in the comments below.