Perfect posture isn’t just about standing tall so you can look your best — when you actively practice good posture, you support proper bone and joint alignment and efficient muscle use through your entire body, from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet.
But if you’re a serial sloucher, there’s a good chance you can draw a definitive line between your bad posture habits and your tense shoulders, stiff neck, and aching lower back.
Many people who suffer from chronic lower back pain are surprised to learn that poor posture patterns are a fundamental part of their problem. That’s exactly why postural rehabilitation is a key component of care for most patients at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center.
Posture is the way you position your body at any given time. Static posture refers to how you hold your body when you’re standing still, sitting, or lying down; dynamic posture is how you position yourself during movement (i.e., walking, reaching, bending, lifting, pulling).
Just as there are specific “right ways” to position your body when you’re still and moving, there are various “wrong ways” — collectively known as poor postural positions — to hold your body. Common poor posture habits include:
While these poor postural positions can give rise to immediate neck pain, shoulder tension, and lower back discomfort, incorrect posture is a much greater concern when it’s long-term.
Poor posture places undue stress on your musculoskeletal system, starting with your spine and joints and extending out to the supporting soft tissue structures that enable fluid movement, including your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs.
At first, poor posture may cause muscle strain and tension. But when it becomes a habit, poor posture can:
Long-standing poor posture can weaken your spine and leave it more vulnerable to injuries, reduce muscle flexibility and joint range of motion, undermine your balance, and give rise to chronic pain. The two areas which tend to feel the brunt of ongoing poor posture are the neck and the lower back.
From the top of your head to the bottom of your feet, your body is one long interconnected kinetic chain. When you maintain good posture through this chain, each element experiences maximal support, minimal stress and strain, and optimal efficiency.
Being mindful of your posture takes unnecessary pressure off your lower back, neck, and joints. It helps you avoid the gradually developing imbalances that can eventually restrict your range of motion and mobility.
Neutral standing posture means keeping your:
The key to good posture in any position is knowing how to maintain a neutral spine or one that forms a vertical line through the center of your body when viewed from the front or back and possesses three gentle curves when viewed from either side.
Holding your body correctly when you’re still or moving can help you avoid pain, injury, and decreased mobility; it can also help slow the onset of common musculoskeletal conditions like osteoarthritis. Postural rehabilitation aims to help you achieve all these things.
No matter what else might factor into your lower back pain problem (i.e., herniated disc, spinal stenosis), finding and correcting the postural abnormalities that are contributing to your pain — whether it’s spinal misalignment, joint stiffness, muscle imbalance, or all the above — can go a long way in helping you attain lasting relief.