If you have back pain, improving your posture is unlikely to address the root cause of the problem, but it may help alleviate the pain and reduce abnormal stress in the involved joints of the spine.
Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a particular way, but with a bit of practise, good posture will become second nature and be one step to helping your back in the long term.
Standing with a flat back
This posture is often caused by muscle imbalances, which encourage you to adopt such a position. Spending long periods sitting down can also contribute to a flat back.
A flat back also tends to make you lean your neck and head forwards, which can cause neck and upper back strain.
Exercises to strengthen your core, buttocks, neck and rear shoulder muscles, and back extensions, are recommended to help correct a flat back.
Slouching in a chair
Slouching doesn’t always cause discomfort, but over time this position can place strain on already sensitised muscles and soft tissues.
Exercises to strengthen your core and buttock muscles, and back extensions, will help correct a slouching posture.
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Sticking your bottom out
If your bottom tends to stick out or you have a pronounced curve in your lower back, you may have hyperlordosis. This is an exaggerated inward curve of the lower back that creates a “Donald Duck” posture.
Wearing high heels, excessive weight around the stomach and pregnancy can all contribute to this bad posture.
To help correct your standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards.
The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining the spine’s natural curvature, with your neck straight and shoulders parallel with the hips:
- keep your shoulders back and relaxed
- pull in your abdomen
- keep your feet about hip distance apart
- balance your weight evenly on both feet
- try not to tilt your head forward, backwards or sideways
- keep your legs straight, but knees relaxed
Leaning on one leg
Over time, you may develop muscle imbalances around the pelvis area, which can cause muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks.
Other causes of uneven hips include carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder, and parents carrying toddlers on one hip.
To improve this posture, try to get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs.
Exercises to strengthen your buttocks and core muscles will help correct uneven hips
Hunched back and ‘text neck’
Hunching over your keyboard is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back. Over time, this type of posture can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness.
When hunching over a computer, your head may tend to lean forward, which can lead to poor posture. Using a mobile can cause similar problems dubbed “text neck”.
Upper back, neck and rear shoulder strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills are recommended to help correct a hunched back.
Poking your chin
The poking chin posture can be caused by sitting too low, a screen set too high, a hunched back, or a combination of all three.
Correcting a poking chin involves improving your sitting habits and exercises to correct your posture.
How to correct a poking chin:
- gently lengthen your neck upwards as you tuck in your chin
- bring your shoulder blades down and back towards your spine
- pull in your lower tummy muscles to maintain a natural curve in your lower back
- adjust your seating