Posture and back pain

Posture plays an integral role in back health. It is the position of your body while standing, sitting, and moving. Good posture is the optimal alignment of your body, with a balance between the supporting muscles and ligaments.

Conversely, when your posture is misaligned, you may experience back pain. Poor posture places stress on the spine and can lead to anatomical changes of your back over time.


“Stand up straight” was sound advice

Good posture helps protect against back pain by reducing the uneven forces and stress on your joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  It helps prevent abnormal wear and tear of the joints that can lead to arthritis and joint pain. Too, it allows your muscles to work more efficiently, preventing muscle fatigue and injuries.  Better posture will release you from aches and pains, encourage deeper breathing, and improve digestion. And when your body has optimal alignment, your joints and your muscles feel the happiest.

Moreover, good posture makes you look and feel taller. And research studies show that good posture increases confidence and positively impacts the way that others perceive you.


What is the cause of poor posture?

Poor posture often develops slowly and is not typically an instant source of pain. Spending prolonged periods of time in one position — such as sitting at a computer or TV, lounging with a laptop, or traveling on long road trips in a car — can lead to poor posture and back pain. In particular, substandard work environments, poor sitting habits, and repetitive and sustained activities often contribute to poor posture and back pain.

Poor posture can eventually lead to muscle weakness, tight muscles, and irregularities of the spine.  When related back pain enters the scene due to your neanderthal posture,  free movement becomes constricted, sedentary behaviours increase, and weight gain can occur.


Strike a pose

There are several common postures that cause back pain and lead to loss of function and ability to move efficiently.  These adverse postures include:


How can you improve your own posture?

To improve poor posture, you must constantly be mindful of your body’s alignment.  Simple strategies such as examining your posture in a mirror (or reflection from a plate glass window) will increase your awareness.  While correcting poor posture is achievable, it takes patience and time.

Additionally, muscle strength is a critical component of maintaining proper, upright postural alignment. Good posture is reinforced by strong core stability. The muscle groups that contribute to a strong core and are key to good posture include the abdominal, pelvic floor, upper and lower back, and buttock (gluteal) muscles. Here are some tips to help improve your posture:

• Strengthen your back, buttocks and abdomen with a few daily strengthening exercises targeting those areas specifically.

• Stretch muscles that target the hips and back. To correct rounded shoulders, stretch the front of the chest and neck while strengthening the back muscles.

• Perform chin tucks to align your head with your shoulders.  Look straight ahead, place two fingers on your chin, slightly tuck your chin and move your head back. Hold for three to five seconds and then release.

• Move often and avoid remaining in one position for hours at a time


If you are interested in reading more about posture and back pain, examine these articles:

• How to Achieve a Great Posture

• Neck Pain and Computer Use: What Can You Do About It?