Answering the Question: How Can Poor Posture Result in Back Pain
Whether we want to admit or not, exhibiting poor posture is something we mindlessly do on a pretty regular basis. You probably spend a few minutes, and possibly even a few hours, with your body in a bad position at work. It’s highly likely that you also exhibit poor posture when you’re at home just trying to relax.
Don’t worry. I’m certainly not here to judge you for doing those things. However, you should know that your tendency to feature poor posture is not doing you any favors.
Understanding the Correct Posture
Before we dive into what constitutes poor posture and how it can hurt you long-term, let’s first discuss what the right type of posture is. Basically, correct posture means that the bones of your spine are lined up properly. There should be nothing jutting out.
When you practice proper posture, you alleviate the pressure on certain muscles and bones, resulting in them being less fatigued and enjoying better long-term health. Things You Do Every Day That Exhibit Poor Posture and Can Lead to Prolonged Back Pain
Sitting for Way Too Long
In an age where many people work and have fun while sitting down with a screen in front of them, it truly has become more difficult to avoid being seated for an extended period of time. Many of us don’t even do it intentionally. It’s only after checking the clock that we realize that we’ve been sitting around for over an hour.
The biggest issue when you remain seated for a prolonged period of time is that certain muscle groups in your body are not able to do their jobs.
To be more specific, your abdominal, extrinsic, and intrinsic muscles become inactive and your lower back becomes unsupported. Over time, those inactive muscles will grow weak and stiff. As you might have expected, muscles left in that type of condition can bring you pain. Remaining seated for an extended amount of time also causes your upper body to exert more pressure on the discs in your lower back.
With your lower back not being supported, the force may prove too much to balance. Over time, your upper body weighing down on your lower back can result in some discs in your back bulging. Even the circulation of blood throughout your body can be adversely affected by sitting down too long.
Sitting down is supposed to be relaxing, but can you really say you’re fully relaxed unless you’re slouching? Even though it’s common knowledge that slouching is bad for your body, it’s hard to stop doing it just because it can be so comfortable at times.
Here’s the thing though: Slouching is really bad for you, and if you don’t do something about this bad habit, it will result in you experiencing plenty of back pain in the future.
Remember that your lower back is already unsupported while you’re sitting down and slouching only serves to strain more parts of your body. To be more specific, the irregular positioning of your pelvis and spine can cause some of the discs in your back to widen and that in turn can lead to certain ligaments being asked to deal with more stress.
Basically, when you’re slouching while sitting down, you are doing some real, lasting damage to numerous parts of your body.
Leaning to One Side
The correct posture involves your weight being evenly distributed throughout your body. As you might imagine, if you aren’t distributing your weight properly with the way you’re standing up, that can lead to some issues.
The most significant impact this particular habit can have on your body will be felt in your hips, or rather, one of your hips. When you’re just standing straight with both legs holding you up, your buttocks and your core muscles are allowed to work and essentially balance out your weight.
That doesn’t happen anymore when you’re leaning and instead, you’re putting an excessive amount of pressure on one of your hips. Aside from your hip wearing down, you can also expect surrounding muscles to gradually weaken if you continue to lean on one leg regularly. Favoring one side when you are standing up can also lead to a muscle imbalance in your pelvic area.
Once that happens, the muscles there can become strained, and it will only be a matter of time before that becomes a chronic source of pain for you. In addition, your spine, shoulders, and even your neck may twist more to the side you’re favoring and you don’t want that.
Think of what happens when you’re texting. You take your phone in your hand, hunch your neck forward and then lower your head so that you can begin typing your message. If you’re just sending a few text messages per day, this is no big deal. Your body is not going to be adversely affected in that scenario.
However, if you text frequently, you may also be putting your body in an awkward position on a regular basis. The issue is that when we lower our head to look at our phones, we are also adding a significant amount of weight to the burden the spine already has to bear.
Do that dozens of times a day, every day of the week and you can just imagine how difficult that becomes for your spine to manage. The natural curvature of your spine will need to change because of what you’re doing and that can lead to a great deal of back pain in the future.
Standing with Your Lower Back Sticking Out
It’s not as common to see people who stand with their lower backs sticking out, but if you are one of those individuals who tends to feature this stance, you could be in for some problems. The problem this time around is that the curvature of your lower back becomes exaggerated.
When that happens, a greater amount of stress gets placed on your lower back. Stress equals pain in this scenario and you can count on feeling uncomfortable more often if you don’t do anything to change your usual stance. Along with the stress added to your lower back, standing in this way often will also lead to other issues that could cause you lasting problems.
For instance, your quads, hamstrings, and some of the other muscles in the lower half of your body will also weaken. Once they are weakened, they will become unable to properly support your lower back.
Flattening Your Back When Standing Up
Some people have a tendency to hang their head slightly in front of their body while also flattening out their back when they are standing up. Remember that the correct posture does not feature your back flattened out, so that type of stance is obviously going to be a source of future problems for you.
When you are standing up with your back flattened out, your pelvis will also end up being tucked into your body.
The problem in that scenario is that your body will react to the mistake in your posture by trying to correct the alignment of your pelvis. To do that, certain muscles in the lower part of your body will have to work overtime.
Specifically, the muscles that are going to be called up to get your body lined up properly are your buttocks as well as some of the muscles located in your lower back and thighs. There’s obviously nothing wrong with giving your muscles a good workout, but that’s not what you’re doing here.
Those aforementioned muscles are being overworked and they will likely become fatigued before long. Tired muscles are not good because they will lead to aches and pains that will be difficult to deal with.
Swaying Back While Standing
The sway back posture typically involves the upper body leaning back slightly, while the hips and knees are pointing forward. The head is upright, but is also not aligned with any part of the body. You can almost draw an “S” shape if you move up from the back of feet all the way up to the back of the head. Just picturing that stance in your head should tip you off to how bad it can be for body.
The main issue here is that your pelvis is jutting out, which then causes the hips to be hyper-extended. It’s not just your hips too. Even your knees are going to be hyper-extended if you remain in this position for too long. Another problem with the sway back posture is that your spine is elongated. When your spine is elongated, it grows stiff.
The unusual positioning of your spine also leads to some other issues. Specifically, the elongation of your spine will result in a greater amount of pressure being placed on the joints and the discs in your lower back. Having all that excess pressure being exerted on your lower back is not a good feeling.
It’s not easy standing or even sitting in the proper position all the time, especially if you’ve already gotten used to slouching, leaning, and exhibiting other types of incorrect posture. However, if you don’t want to suffer from back pain long-term or want to alleviate the pain you are already experiencing, correcting your posture is a must.
Exhibiting correct posture all the time is not an easy habit to pick up, but it is one that will be beneficial to you for the rest of your life. Do what you can to improve your posture permanently and your future self will be very thankful for it.