Proper Posture to Reduce Back Pain

A new year is a time of new beginnings and it is never too late to improve your habits when it comes to proper posture. Fostering good posture habits will pay dividends for years to come.

Why Does Poor Posture Lead to Back Pain?
In the short term, it often feels better to slouch or slump. Especially if you are crashing in front of the TV with some pizza for a Netflix binge of your favorite show. But think of your body as a building. The spine is the infrastructure of the building–the steel girders that strengthen the building. The muscles, tendons and tissues that connect to the spine support and strengthen it. When the spine is slouched in an unnatural position over an extended period of time, the muscles and tendons that support it are weakened.

This can lead to stress on nerves, which cause pain in the body. These weakened muscles and tendons are also more susceptible to injury in a weakened condition. The body is made to move and a sudden move or unexpected motion by the body could cause the muscles or tendons to strain or tear. Sadly, many patients come through our doors after the damage is already done. We would like you to avoid the pain all together.

Proper Standing Posture
The Mayo Clinic gives these tips for proper standing posture.

  • Stand straight and tall with your shoulders back.
  • Keep your head level and in line with your body.
  • Pull in your abdomen.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Don’t lock your knees.
  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Let your hands hang naturally at your sides.

If you have to stand for long periods of time, shift your weight from your toes to your heels or from one foot to the other.

Proper Sitting Posture
The Clinic also provides some great tips for proper sitting posture.

  • Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees. Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.
  • Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling, and tuck your chin in slightly.
  • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed — not elevated, rounded or pulled backward.

The benefits of proper posture are increased flexibility and strength as well as reduced spine pain or discomfort. These benefits are definitely worth the effort it takes to nurture proper posture habits.