The Connection Between Poor Posture and Back Pain, What You Can Do About It

poor posture, back pain

Many are familiar with acute back pain from an event such as an awkward twist or an improper lift. The pain is instant or emerges within minutes or hours of the incident. It isn’t always that moment, however, that creates back pain. Chronic poor posture leads to changes in your spine over time that increase your chances of developing back pain.

The cumulative effect

You likely aren’t aware of anything wrong when you slip into bad posture. It isn’t something that typically creates pain on its own. The tiny stresses add up and take a toll on the musculoskeletal system supporting your spine. The components of your back – muscles, vertebrae, and discs – stop working in a mutually supportive way and instead expend much of their capabilities dealing with your own imbalances.

Signs of posture-related pain

There may be clues that let you know your posture is behind discomfort and pain. You can probably determine posture risk in your life based on the amount of time you spend in certain activities. For instance, if your job requires you to be in the same position for long periods of time, it’s easy to fall into bad posture habits, like slouching or leaning forward.

You may find that posture-related pain hits your back at certain times of the day, in a pattern. The pain may start at the top and work its way down. The headache, stiff neck, tight shoulders, and lower back could all be interrelated and due to chronic bad posture. If you notice the pain subsides when you change position, such as moving between sitting and standing, you may have another clue that your body mechanics are off. Poor posture could result in the sudden appearance of back pain when you’re presented with things like a new office chair, new car, or different work activity.

Correcting bad posture

The clues that suggest your pain is posture-related hold a valuable secret. Bad posture isn’t working alone in creating your pain. In particular, when a change of position provides you with relief, there’s a strong hint that you aren’t moving enough. Your body is made to move, so holding it hostage in an extended position is going to earn protests in the form of pain.

Adding deliberate, posture-friendly movement is a big step in back pain self-care. Visualization of proper posture is a good place to start. Picture your body in terms of straight lines and right angles. Sitting at a workstation, for example, an imaginary straight line should align through the top of your head then through the center of your spine down to your hips. Thighs are level and 90 degrees to the line of your spine, and at your knees another 90-degree angle forms, ending with your feet flat on the floor. In a standing position it’s even easier to visualize a straight line from head to feet.

You’ll likely feel your body settle into good posture as you visualize. From here it’s easy to add short movement routines that take less than five minutes. If you’re sitting, stand. If you’re standing, sit. Stretch your arms and legs in ways that your task doesn’t. Adding variety to the movements in your day will change problems that arise from static and poor posture.

When self-care isn’t enough, then it’s time to contact Dr. Johnston at the Osteopathic Wellness Center. Dr. Johnston works with you to develop a natural return to pain-free living. Call or click today.

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