The Best Posture for Back Pain Relief

Growing up, you may have been scolded to stop slouching and to stand up straight. As a child, it’s easy to shrug our shoulders and ignore the good advice as nagging. But as we age, it becomes much harder to ignore the importance of correct spine posture.

Most of us suffer from back pain sometime in our lives. There are many causes of back pain, including medical conditions, injuries, or an accident, but poor posture can be a contributing factor. But what exactly is posture?

What is Correct Spine Posture? 

Posture is how we hold our bodies when standing or sitting. Having good posture simply means that your body stands, sits, walks, and lies down in positions that put the least amount of strain on your muscles and ligaments. Correct spine posture maintains your joints and bones in alignment, which allows you to use your muscles properly.

Having good posture can reduce or eliminate your back pain depending on the causes. Correct posture maintains your joints and bones in alignment, which allows you to use your muscles properly, reducing the opportunities for a sore back. 

Other benefits on maintaining good posture include

  • Reducing the wear and tear of joint surfaces, helping to prevent arthritis 
  • Prevents body fatigue because the muscles are being used more efficiently 
  • Decreases strain on spinal ligaments 
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions

A woman with lower back pain

How to Improve Your Posture for Back Pain Relief 

Think about the way in which you hold your body when sitting, standing, or lying down. You may understand this in theory, but what does correct posture look like? We will guide you through some tips to ensure you have good posture when you’re standing and sitting. 

Here are some ways you can improve your posture for back pain relief

Proper Posture When Standing

  • Stand with your knees slightly bent
  • Your feet should be approximately shoulder-width apart
  • Stand straight with your shoulders pulled backward
  • Hold your stomach in
  • Relax your arms and let them hang down naturally
  • Hold your head at a level position
  • Keep your weight on the balls of your feet, but shift from toes to heels or foot to foot if you are standing for a long time

Proper posture when sitting

If you are experiencing acute back pain, you should avoid sitting for long periods of time. When you do need to sit, use a back support and follow these proper sitting tips:

  • If possible, adjust your chair’s backrest to support your back, or use a back support
  • There should be a slight gap between your knees and the front of your chair
  • Your knees should be at or below hip level
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.
  • Avoid crossing your legs
  • Don’t sit in the same position for a long time

Common Causes for Lower Back Pain

As mentioned earlier, bad posture is a common cause of back pain. If you notice lower back pain around your tailbone, you are probably slouching at work. This is especially common for people who sit at a desk all day. 

Here are some of the common causes of lower back pain and how having correct spine posture can avoid them: 

  • Strain: over time, slouching can lead to increased tension in the muscles, which may cause pain.
  • Sprain: weak back and abdominal muscles may cause you to slouch and leave your lower back vulnerable to injury.
  • Spasm: chronic bad posture often leads to muscles becoming shortened or tightened. This stress may cause inflammation and muscle spasms.
  • Herniated disc: you probably think of sitting as restful, but sitting often places more stress on your spinal discs than standing. In addition, people who sit for prolonged periods of time tend to slouch, which may contribute to a herniated disc.
  • Bulging disc: a bulging disc means that a weakened disc has swelled through a crevice in the spine. Good posture helps prevent bulging discs and keep your spine healthy because it keeps your body aligned.
  • Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spinal canal. Good posture when standing, sitting, or moving about reduces stress on the back.
  • Arthritis: chronic bad posture makes it harder for your muscles to reduce the pressure on your joints, which can lead to painful joint damage.

As you can see, improving your posture is beneficial for your back pain. 

A construction worker carrying wood

High-Risk Occupations for Back Pain

Many jobs put workers at risk for lower back pain. There are too many to list, but some occupations have a higher risk than others for back-related work injuries. One of these is construction workers. 

Construction workers engage in physical labor on a daily basis. Constant lifting and carrying heavy objects, bending, pulling, and tugging with bad posture are a recipe for back pain. Because of this, they commonly suffer from neck or back injuries. 

Nursing home employees also suffer from frequent back and spinal problems. The job is physically strenuous because of frequent transfers between bed and bathroom. Improper posture when lifting a patient puts a lot of stress on the body. 

Warehouse workers also frequently engage in bending, twisting, lifting, and carrying heavy objects. Landscapers are particularly prone to back pain. Just consider the movements involved in planting, pruning, and trimming. 

But physically active workers are not the only ones at risk for back pain. Human beings were not meant to be sedentary. Workers who must sit at a desk for long periods of time are also prone to back pain.

Ensuring the Best Posture for Lower Back Pain

While back pain may seem impossible to escape, the good news is that simple changes in your habits and lifestyle can improve your posture and reduce or avoid lower back pain. Now, many employers are using risk assessment to identify potential dangers in the workplace, such as uneven or slippery floor surfaces. 

Workplace ergonomics are also making a profound difference in the lives of workers. Many employers realize that we are not all built the same and are changing their workplace furniture and equipment to accommodate different bodies. For example, ergonomic office chairs offer adjustable seat height and better lumbar support. Standing desks mean less sedentary employees. Office equipment with wrist and armrests reduce repetitive motion injuries.

Even something as simple as wearing the proper shoes can make a huge difference in your comfort level. Wearing high heels for long periods of time can affect the curve of your lower back and lead to back pain. Try to wear supportive, flexible, properly fitted shoes.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do is to exercise regularly. To improve your posture and find back pain relief, include exercises that strengthen the abdominal and lower back muscles.

Woman standing straight at a desk

 Physical Therapy to Correct Spine Posture 

If you believe that bad posture is the cause of your back pain, don’t wait to contact a physical therapist. Physical therapy can help your pain, whether you’re dealing with a sprain and strain or something like arthritis. 

To learn more, call 570-208-2787 or email Talk with one of our Doctors of physical therapy about coming to your office or home to discuss how we can help you achieve optimum posture and ergonomics.

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