The Role of Lifestyle and Posture in Triggering Reflux Episodes


For many lifestyle choices and environmental factors can be a major source of reflux problems. These factor fall into four categories:

  • Neurological - stimulants and depressants like alcohol, tobacco and caffeine
  • Allergic reactions - to foods or airborne substances
  • Medications - some drugs cause muscles to relax but they also prevent stomach muscles from working properly
  • Physical - for example tight clothing or excess body fat
  • Emotional - for example excessive levels of stress caused by job or family

The RDS guide contains a list of the common reflux triggers such as foods, medications and other substances. Some foods you may not even suspect you are allergic to until you read this list. In addition we offer suggestions to manage stress and lose weight in ways that are friendly to your digestion.


In adults, a slouched posture is an important factor contributing to GERD. Stomach pressure and an incorrect angle of the esophagus can lead to reflux. With a slouched posture there is no straight path between the stomach and esophagus; muscles around the esophagus go into a spasm. Gas and acidity get blocked in the spasm, causing coughing and other asthma-like symptoms.

Maintaining good posture is effective in reducing and/or eliminating the symptoms of GERD. While standing, sitting and sleeping, it is important to have a body position that minimizes stomach pressure and places the esophagus Bad Sitting Posturein the correct angle, so as to allow easy passage of food on the way into the stomach and easy passage of gas on the way out. In addition, a “straight” position allows gravity to more easily push any refluxed acid back down the esophagus and into the stomach.

Standing Posture

Standing with improper posture makes the esophagus is more likely to have a twist or “kink”, much like a garden hose. This prevents digestive gas build-up from releasing through the mouth (i.e. burping). This will increase the intra-abdominal pressure leading to reflux.

Sitting Posture

Conversely, incorrect sitting posture creates intra-abdominal pressure from the weight of the chest, shoulders and head. In this position, stomach contents will be forced up through the LES and into the esophagus. In addition, the esophagus is not in a straight position to allow for the easy release of gas (i.e. burping).

But Knowledge of Good Posture is Not Enough

Unfortunately it is not enough to just remember to stand or sit and correctly. If it were that easy everyone would have good posture. As soon as you consciously stop thinking about correct posture you'll lapse into a bad one. As any physiotherapist or chiropractor will tell you; the best way to improve posture is through exercises specifically designed tone and strengthen the postural muscles in the body like those outlined in the RDS guide. When practiced regularly, posture should show dramatic improvement and reflux symptoms will greatly diminish.