Washington: Mothers have for ages been telling their children to stop slouching. It turns out that they are right -- poor posture not only makes a bad impression, but can actually make you physically weaker.

A study by Scott Wiltermuth, assistant professor, University of Southern California and Vanessa K. Bohns, post-doctoral fellow, University of Toronto, says adopting dominant versus submissive postures actually decreases your sensitivity to pain.

The study found that by simply adopting more dominant poses, people feel more powerful, in control and able to tolerate more distress, reports the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

A powerful posture may also lead to elevated testosterone, linked with increased pain tolerance, and decreased cortisol, which may make an experience less stressful, according to a Southern California statement.

Those who used the most dominant posture in the study were able to comfortably handle more pain than those assigned a more neutral or submissive stance.

Wiltermuth and Bohns also expanded on previous research that shows the posture of a person with whom you interact will affect your pose and behaviour.

In this case, Wiltermuth and Bohns found that those adopting submissive pose in response to their partner's dominant pose showed a lower threshold for pain.

While most people will crawl up into a ball when they are in pain, Bohn's and Wiltermuth's research suggests that one should do the opposite.

In fact, their research suggests that curling up into a ball may make an experience more painful because it will make you feel like you have no control over your circumstances, which may in turn intensify your anticipation of the pain.

Instead, try sitting or standing up straight, pushing your chest out and expanding your body. These behaviours can help create a sense of power and control that may in turn make an experience more tolerable.