Does Improving Posture Decrease Neck and Back Pain?

Posture Apr21st 2021

In a word? No.  There are plenty of reasons to improve posture but decreasing neck and back pain are unlikely to be changed by focusing on posture.  We often think posture is to blame when back and neck pain are present but research has not shown these conditions to be associated with posture or postural deviations. 

In this world of looking beautiful, posture is part of our first impressions.  The history of posture is long and storied. What started in military drill formation became a sign of health, wealth, and morality. In the late 19th century we started to become less stuffy and restrictive- particularly with our clothes and furniture.  As we moved away from tight-fitting corsets and into loose flowy dresses, our posture moved from upright and stiff to slouching and slumping. Similarly, during this time furniture went from being stiff, upright, and unforgiving to soft, springy sofas and chaise lounges that allowed people to kick off their shoes, relax, and get comfortable. 

It is okay to slouch- sometimes.

It takes a lot of muscles to maintain an upright posture. While these need to be strong, your spine also needs to be mobile.  It is meant to move- to keep bones, ligaments, and muscles happy and healthy we have to forward bend, backward bend, side bend and rotate! Simply put, the more you move, the better you feel.

Sitting in any one position, even “perfect” posture, for too long can cause pain or discomfort. This is the basic idea behind the new technology in postural correctors.  These devices stick to your body and send a signal when it’s time to move.  They aren’t based on a particular postural angle, they are just fancy timers!  You can save your self a lot of money and effort by using low-tech options such as reminder notes or alarms on your phone to get the same effects.

With today’s sedentary lifestyles, sitting at work, driving in the car, watching TV, etc., it is more important than ever that we remember to move.

What can you do?

  • Be more aware of your posture throughout the day and take frequent breaks to move around, be taller, re-adjust your seat. Sit-up, slump down, stand- they’re all good!
  • Work on exercises that strengthen your abdominal and your mid back muscles.
  • Do stretching exercises with your back on a wall or lying flat on the ground, moving your arms overhead.
  • Walk or run everyday, trying to be as tall as possible while doing so.
  • Be more conscious of your breathing during the day. Take deep breaths in a better posture, which helps to mobilize your spine and allow for full expansion of your diaphragm.
  • Evaluate your workspace. Is it set up correctly? Is your computer in front of you or off to the side? Is your chair high enough?
  • Avoid any single position for too long. 

Why you should see a physical therapist

When it comes to movement of your body, no one is more qualified than a physical therapist to help you. In physical therapy we evaluate your body mechanics, posture, strength and mobility to evaluate what is needed for you to move and feel better. We create custom plans based on what you can do to improve movement quality and build strength and endurance. We teach you exercises that will put you on the path to a pain free life with terrific posture! Contact us today at Gainesville & Newberry, FL centers to learn more about how we can help you.

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