Can Good Posture Resolve Your Back Pain?
Improving posture can potentially help relieve some types of back pain. Certain injuries or degenerative conditions can’t be fixed with better posture alone but maintaining good posture can help minimize the risk of developing certain types of back and neck pain.
The alignment of your spine has a lot to do with how your body supports your weight. Slouching or sitting for long periods with poor posture can have negative effects on your physique and eventually cause serious complications, including joint degeneration and spinal dysfunction.
If you are experiencing neck and back pain for reasons related to posture, correcting your posture may help relieve your pain.
Muscles and Joints Are Intended to Function with Proper Posture
While there are many things about health that are still up for debate, posture generally isn’t one of them. Orthopaedic doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists would agree that there’s good posture and bad posture, and poor posture prevents muscles and joints from working as intended.
In fact, some of the wear and tear inflicted upon joints due to poor posture is frequently a contributing factor to the development of osteoarthritis.
What Is Good Posture?
A healthy spine should have several curves – the cervical curve (curves forward), thoracic curve (curves outward) and lumbar curve (curves inward).
Good posture tends to be:
- Standing up to your maximum height
- Shoulders back
- Abdomen pulled in
- Feet roughly shoulder-width apart
- Unlocked knees
- Weight primary borne by balls of your feet
- Arms hang naturally at sides
How Can I Tell Whether My Posture Is Good or Bad?
You can try the “wall test” to see if you’re hitting the mark on posture. When you’re standing up straight with your back to a wall:
- The back of your head should be touching the wall
- Your shoulder blades should be touching the wall
- Your buttocks should be touching the wall
- Your heals should be between two to four inches from the wall
When in that position, put your palm flat against the wall and try to slide your hand behind the curve of your back. People with good posture should have roughly one-hands worth of space between their lower back and the wall.
If it feels like you have too much space, try tightening your ab muscles (suck in your gut). If there’s not enough space, you probably need to arch your back more. Once you feel like you have the ideal posture try walking away from the wall and maintaining that posture throughout the day.
Maintaining good posture, especially when you’re not used to it, will take conscious effort, especially at first.
Good Posture When Sitting
Many people today struggle with less-than-perfect posture in large part because of their jobs. A significant percentage of American adults sit behind a desk all day, and in many cases their sitting posture is problematic.
Breaking bad sitting habits isn’t easy, but it’s doable with enough determination and thoughtfulness. Some things you can do to improve your sitting posture include:
- Adjust your chair height to ensure the soles of your feet can rest flat on the floor while your knees are either at or below your sitting hip level
- There should ideally be a short gap between the back of your knees and the front of your chair’s seat
- If your chair doesn’t support your back, consider putting a small pillow or rolled towel behind your mid back
- The top of your computer or laptop’s monitor should ideally be slightly below eye level
- Try to sit with your head and neck in line with your spine and torso
- When your hands are on your keyboard your forearms should be roughly parallel with the floor
You may want to consider getting a different chair or desk if they can’t be adjusted to accommodate your height.
Looking for a Reliable, Non-Surgical Back Pain Management Solution?
Trying to improve your posture is always a worthy pursuit, but not all low back pain and neck pain will respond quickly or positively to improvements in your posture. The team at Non-Surgical Orthopaedic offer a number of pain management injections designed to help diagnose and manage the source of your chronic or acute back pain.
Schedule an appointment at our Marietta or Carrollton office by calling 770-421-1420. We know how difficult it can be to be productive with severe back or neck pain, which is why we strive to schedule appointments within 24 hours of your call.