Poor posture is the leading cause in back pain today. Our bodies didn’t evolve to sit as often as we do now, or hunch over computer screens and laptops. We’re hunching more and working out less, leading to curved shoulders and lower backs along with weaker core muscles. As a consequence, our posture is on a rapid decline. While it may feel awkward and even unnatural at first, taking steps to correct your posture is critical towards future spinal health. Here are a few tips you can use to work to permanently alter your posture for the better and save your back from future pain and suffering.
Pull Your Bottom InIf your lower back tends to curve inward, making your bottom stick out, you may have what’s called lordosis or hyperlordosis. This is defined by having an exaggerated inwards curve of your lower spine that creates a ‘Donald Duck’ effect on your rear end. This happens when there’s a tightness in your lower back and hip flexors and is exacerbated by weak muscles in your core, hamstrings and buttocks. The imbalance caused by these weak muscles tilts your pelvis forward and can cause extensive lower back stiffness and pain. The most common causes of this kind of posture are things like pregnancy, constantly wearing high heels, or more weight being carried around your midsection.
Core and buttocks strengthening exercises as well as stretching your hip flexors and thighs are great fixes for this particular problem. To help you maintain a good standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head that’s pulling you upwards. You want to try to keep your body in perfect alignment from hips to head, maintaining the spine’s natural curve. Your neck should be straight and your shoulders should be parallel with your hips.
Correct Your Flat Back
The opposite of lordosis is walking with a flat back. This means your pelvis is tucked in and your lower back is straight rather than curved, causing you to hunch forward. People with a flat back usually find it hard to stand up for long periods of time without having pain in the lower half of their back. Much like lordosis, this problem is also often caused by muscle imbalances. In this case it may be a sign of a tightness in your core and hamstrings along with a weakness in your quadriceps, lower back and buttocks. A flat back also tends to make you lean your head and neck forwards, contributing to shoulder stiffness and upper back strain. Exercises to strengthen your core, buttocks, rear shoulder and neck muscles along with back extensions are recommended to help correct your flat back.
Leaning on One Leg
If you find yourself leaning more on one leg than the other, sometimes referred to as ‘hanging on one hip,’ you likely often feel uncomfortable, especially while standing for an extended period of time. It’s often a result of a weakness in some muscles as well as instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you’re placing excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip. Over time this can develop muscle imbalances around your pelvis area, causing muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks, as well as pain. Another cause can be carrying heavy backpacks or purses slung over one shoulder, or parents carrying children around on one hip. As difficult as this may sound, the best way to correct this is to try to get into the habit of standing evenly on both legs. Exercises to strengthen your buttocks and core muscles will help too.
Now also referred to as ‘text neck,’ if you often find yourself with your neck lowered as if you were looking down at your phone to send someone a text, or if you spend several hours a day working at a computer, you likely have at least a slightly hunched neck. This position is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back. Over time this type of posture can lead to you developing a rounded upper back, which is referred to as kyphosis. This causes a painful upper back stiffness and shoulder pain over time. Upper back, neck, and rear shoulder strengthening exercises as well as chest stretches and neck posture drills can help curb this condition.