If You Have Back Pain Posture May Be One of the Biggest Contributing Factors
Did you know that lower back pain, posture and poor movement patterns are all directly related? It’s true! In fact, studies have shown the most common causes of back pain, after lifting, include poor posture, exercising improperly, driving for long periods with poor posture, sleeping on a mattress that does not give your back proper support, being in poor physical shape, and being overweight. Do you notice how many of those factors directly relate to posture?
Assess Your Sitting Posture
To see if bad posture may be contributing to your back pain, let’s do an insightful exercise. Ready?
STOP…FREEZE…Don't move your position at all! Consciously, take an inventory of how you are positioned and sitting right now as you read these very words.
Are you slumped over with your head forward?
Are your shoulders rounded forward, rather than pulled back and upright?
Are you leaning to one side or the other?
Are both of your feet flat on the floor or are your legs crossed?
How about your computer monitor? Is the top of your computer monitor eye level when you are sitting up straight?
Are you reading while lying on the couch or while sitting on your bed?
Assess Your Standing Posture
Now that you’ve assessed your sitting posture, let’s look at your posture in standing. Before we do that, look at the diagrams below to observe the different types of posture. I want you to notice what good posture is, then try to pick which posture looks most closely to you in standing.
Optimal Sway Back Hunch Back Flat Back
Posture Posture Posture Posture
Ok, let’s go on. Stand in front of a full-length mirror. Turn toward the side, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your head slumped forward with your chin out?
- Is your chin tilting up or down?
- Are your shoulders rounded forward?
- Are you carrying excessive weight in your abdominal region?
- Are your knees bent forward or backward?
- Now look at the curves of the spine. Your lower back should have a natural inward curve. In other words, it should be slightly arched. Is your back too flat or arched excessively?
If you answered YES to even ONE of the questions while assessing your sitting or standing posture, you are making your back pain worse…possibly without even knowing it. But, the good news is this: there are simple, quick, and painless changes you can implement to decrease the lower back pain posture is causing.
How Back Pain Posture and Getting Relief are Related
First, let me share with you how bad posture can be a cause of back pain. If you think about it, our back never really gets an opportunity to truly rest. Even while we sleep, the posture and position we sleep in directly affects our back, either positively or negatively. That said, it only makes sense that if you consistently perform your daily activities with bad posture and poor body mechanics, it will lead to increased stress on the discs and ligaments of your spine and cause them to “wear out” faster, setting you up for eventual lower back pain. This is because sitting, standing, and bending and lifting with poor posture and body mechanics can actually increase stress on the disks of your spine by 150% compared to doing those activities correctly.
Unfortunately, in many programs “experts” offer today to decrease back pain, posture is never even addressed. Instead, they try to sell a cream, lotion, or machine as a quick fix to get rid of your back pain. This may help in the short-term, but it doesn’t educate you on how to eliminate one of the leading causes of back pain, posture! If you realize your back pain, posture, and poor movement patterns are related, you can make a change. Remember, poor posture and movement patterns are learned habits.
Poor Back Pain Posture Leads To Physical Problems
Poor posture is a physical problem, so it makes sense that if you want to decrease back pain, posture has to be addressed. To help you improve your posture, I’ve written a number of articles that will teach you how to improve your posture the way we teach our patients in physical therapy. Take action today and learn how to improve your general productivity, movement patterns, overall health, and how to eliminate the unnecessary stress and back pain posture is causing!