Improving your posture for lower back pain
A proper posture lays the foundation for lifelong health, confidence and an overall sense of well-being.
Experts defined posture as the position in which an individual holds his/her body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down.
The right posture would be where an individual has trained his/her body to stand, walk, sit or lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or other weight-bearing activities.
The key guiding and assessment principle for a good posture is that all the body parts should be in a proper alignment with each other.
Posture and Lower Back Pain
An improper posture is one of the leading causes of lower back pain. Performing the everyday activities such as sitting, standing, walking or sleeping in an improper posture exert undue pressure on the spinal cord and other parts of the body, thereby leading to the emergence of lower back pain.
Poor posture is likely to injure the discs in the lower back which ultimately leads to chronic pain. An increased number of individuals suffering from lower back pain are being reported due to an improper posture at work.
An individual might develop a pain in the lower back due to various activities he/she performs in the daily routine, in an improper posture. These primarily include:
Slouching Sleeping in an improper posture Workplace hazards Improper lifestyle Standing with a slump, etc.
In the further sections, we’ve discussed the important methods of attaining the right posture for improving lower back pain, along with the key aspects of the subject. These include neutral position, adaptive shortening and the right posture to be maintained for various activities.
A) Neutral Position
A neutral position or posture refers to such a resting position of each joint, in which there is the least tension or pressure on nerves, tendons, muscles and bones. It is a natural position in which the muscles are at their resting length, being neither contracted nor stretched.
The spine naturally assumes an S-shaped curve, with the upper spine or the thoracic region being gently bent out and the lower spine or lumbar spine being gently bent in.
The neutral position of the spine is one in which the spine is neither rotated nor twisted to the left or right. This is the right posture required in the standing and sitting position to avoid and improve lower back pain.
B) Adaptive Shortening
Adaptive shortening is an automatic response of the body that prevents an individual from maintaining the neutral position, thereby leading to lower back pain or worsening of the same.
When the body is in pain, it adjusts by adopting a posture which feels more comfortable. This might result in the individual standing with most of the weight on one foot or sitting mostly on one hip. After spells of long-standing pain, this adjusted position is likely to become the preferred posture.
In such cases, the soft tissues would have shortened or adapted to the preferred posture, hindering the individual from maintaining the neutral posture.
To avoid developing lower back pain due to an improper posture, it is equally important to learn to sit in the right manner.
In this section, we’ve listed the main guidelines on how to sit in the correct posture to avoid lower back pain.
Place your buttocks at the back of the seat of the chair. Maintain a small space between the back of your knees and the seat of the chair Place your feet flat on the floor with the knees bent at a 90° angle Lift your chest and pull your shoulders back Lift your chin to the point where it is at a straight level Relax your jaw and mouth Make sure the armrests are at a proper level Keep your feet on a properly aligned footrest, if required Take frequent and short breaks from work
In addition, for prolonged hours of sitting, it is important to choose a chair that offers proper and adjustable lumbar support.
Standing in an improper posture is also one of the main causative factors of lower back pain. Here we list a few guidelines on how to stand properly in order to avoid lower back pain.
- Keep your head straight and chin tucked in
- Keep the shoulder blades backwards
- Stretch the top of your head right towards the ceiling
- Keep your stomach tucked in without tilting your pelvis forward or backward
- Give adequate support to the arches in your feet
- Don’t hunch your shoulders or tense your neck when stressed
- Don’t lock the knees
- Avoid standing in the same position for a long time
- Elevate one foot by resting it on a step or stool, when standing for long hours. Switch to the other foot after sometime.
- Wear shoes with proper cushioning and support