Does bad posture cause back pain?

The fact is that even if your back pain is not caused by bad posture, it can certainly be made worse by the way you sit stand and walk. We all have a particular style of sitting, standing and working at the office. Our daily lives are very busy and therefore we do not have enough time and attention to look at the way sit, stand and work.

What is Slouching?

Back pain due to bad posture - Slouching | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London

We always hear about slouching when we read or talk about bad posture. But what actually is slouching then? Slouching is the way we sit, stand or walk in a lazy, drooping and awkward posture. It is the position of a body that place a strain on on already injured muscles and soft tissues of the back. Slouching always do not cause discomfort. Slouching leads to bad posture.

How does Slouching cause bad posture?

Slouching is the most easy and comfortable position. Most pets do this. They take the most lazy position. When we want to relax, we choose the most comfortable position so that it is very enjoyable. But Beware!

Over time, slouching becomes your natural way you sit, stand and walk. It becomes a habit and develops into your style. The style in the way you hold your head, shoulders, chest, tummy, hips and legs is your posture.

What is a good posture?

Good posture is not just standing up straight. It is the way that you hold your body. There are two types of posture:

  • Static posture
  • Dynamic posture

Static posture is how you hold your body when your are not moving like sitting, standing or sleeping.

Dynamic posture is when you are on the move like running, walking or working in an active job.

Good posture prevents Back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London |

Good posture is the way you hold your spine. The 3 natural curves of the neck, upper back (at the shoulders) and lower back (small of your back). Normally your neck is curved backwards called Cervical Lordosis, the upper back is curved forwards called Thoracic Kyphosis and the lower back is curved backwards called Lumbar Lordosis.

Ideally, your head should be above your shoulders and the top of our shoulders should be over your hips. This keeps your spine in alignment.

What is a bad posture?

Bad posture is the common cause of Back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London

Look closely at the above picture. Notice the way the head is stooped forwards, the normal curvature of the neck (Cervical Lordosis) is lost. The shoulders are dropped and the upper back is curved forwards causing the normal forward curvature (Thoracic Kyphosis) to get worse. The lower back is in a ‘slouched’ position and the backward curvature (Lumbar Lordosis) is flat than it should be.

We can see that the overall alignment of the spine does not look straight and this causes uneven stresses across the spine.

How does bad posture cause back pain?

Good posture offer perfect spine alignment | Bad posture does not | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London |

With a good posture, all your joints and muscles of your back are well aligned. The weight of your body and the stress during sitting, walking and running are shared among the joints, ligaments and muscles. There is a good balance between all the segments of your spine.

However, poor posture disrupts this balance of your spine. The alteration in this alignment and balance of your spine forces the muscles and ligaments around your spine to work much harder than usual.  There are uneven forces acting on the muscles of the joints of your spine leading to sprains and strain in the tissues of your lower back. This is how poor posture causes low back pain.

Other postures that cause Back pain?

Crouching posture while sitting causes back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London |

1) Crouching posture while sitting:

Sometimes we are really focused in the work we do at our office. Without our knowledge, we get into crouched position and it causes strain on our back muscles. The blood supply to the muscles of the back of reduced and this causes tissue injury. Tissue injury causes spasm and stiffness of the lower back leading to low back pain.

Unsupported sitting position as shown in the picture causes a forward bend of the spine.

2) Stooping posture while standing:

Crouching or stooping posture while standing causing Back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London |

As you can see from the above picture, crouching posture on standing is very bad for your spine. The upper back curves to the front and the chest caves in with the loss of strength and tone in your tummy muscles. The curve of the lower back becomes flattened and the pelvis is tilted forward. All this puts enormous strain on the whole spine leading to low back pain. Slouching in a standing position is bad for your back.

Why is sitting up straight uncomfortable?

The reason for this is that we grow up to believe that there is no single way to sit or stand. We are told to sit “normally” and this does not mean anything. We do not know what normal sitting or standing is and we tend to copy our friends and family. We adopt their style in the way we sit and stand and this develops into habit as we grow up.

Our muscles around the spine are used to a certain way of working. Learning to adapt the correct posture is like learning to drive or swim for the first time.

Unsupported sitting position as shown in the picture causes a forward bend of the spine.

What is the correct standing posture?

Correct standing posture prevents back pain |Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London

Correcting your posture while standing is not that difficult. As you can see from the picture it takes just a few minutes of practice to pull back your shoulder, bring your chest up and look straight ahead and forwards. Stand relaxed and keep your feet wide apart to match your shoulder width and your knees slightly bent.

Keep your hands hanging down the sides naturally.

What is the correct sitting position at a desk?

Correct sitting posture at the desk to prevent back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London |

As shown in the above picture, your arms should be resting parallel to the floor and your feet must be flat on the ground. Your back must be kept straight and well supported against the chair with your head and shoulders pulled back.

You must feel as relaxed as possible in this position.

What is the best posture for reading?

Correct reading posture can prevent back pain | Mangattil Rajesh | Spine Surgeon London

As you can see there are a lot of bad positions that we adopt when we read sitting on a chair. These habits are developed over time and we don’t even know that we are actually sitting in the wrong posture.

Keep your spine straight against the chair and make sure your feet is flat on the ground. Your book should be held in the position that keeps your head and neck straight to avoid tilting the neck.