The Link Between Poor Posture and Lower Back Pain

Feb 10, 2023
The Link Between Poor Posture and Lower Back Pain
Do you struggle with persistent lower back pain? Chances are poor posture is contributing to your problem. Here’s why postural rehabilitation should be a critical component of the treatment plan that will ease your pain for good.

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

Here, Dr. Lincoln German and Dr. Mikaela Foley discusses how poor posture can lead to chronic lower back pain or worsen it — and explain why it’s important to correct the problem.

Common poor posture habits 

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:

  • Slouching in a chair with your shoulders hunched forward 
  • Forward head posture when looking at a screen (seated or standing)
  • Standing with a flat lower back that creates a “pot belly” appearance
  • Standing with a swayed lower back that exaggerates the curve of your spine
  • Rounding your back and bending at the waist to lift a heavy object off the floor 
  • Shifting most of your weight to one hip and leg when you’re standing still
  • Carrying a heavy bag on one side that depresses your shoulder joint
  • Lying on your abdomen to read a book or do computer work

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. 

The problem with poor posture

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: 

  • Set the stage for musculoskeletal misalignments 
  • Cause abnormal wear on affected joint surfaces
  • Lead to degenerative changes in the spine or joints 
  • Stress the ligaments that support your spinal joints 
  • Strain the spinal discs that cushion your vertebrae 
  • Cause muscle imbalances that limit the range of motion
  • Trigger low-grade inflammation in strained tissues
  • Hamper normal digestion and respiration processes

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.

Understanding proper posture 

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:

  • Shoulders back and down; chest lifted
  • Core (abdominal) muscles actively engaged 
  • Head level with your ears over your shoulders
  • Feet planted about shoulder-width apart 
  • Weight mostly on the balls of your feet

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. 

Benefits of postural rehabilitation

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. 

Ready to say goodbye to lower back pain? We can help. Call or click online to schedule a visit at Spine Care of Manassas Chiropractic Center in Manassas, Virginia, today.