Back Pain and Your Posture

While certain aerobic exercises and exercises that are specific to a back pain treatment program may be beneficial towards improving your back health, some of your everyday habits may also influence how your back feels. Your posture as you do all things (sit, stand, walk, run ride) may affect the way your back feels, especially if your postural habits while doing these things put added strain on the structures as it is. Your back is the thing that holds everything together, and even in the most ideal of conditions has to absorb a lot of pressure as we put our feet on the ground as we walk and while supporting the weight of our head and torso as we sit. If we don't do the things are parents told us to do, such as "Sit up straight" and "don't slouch", we may be straining the tendons and ligaments of our back or putting not distributing the weight of our body throughout our back. Bad postural habits such as hunching forward over our desk or leading back against our desk chair can put tension on the spine and lead to back pain.

Here are two simple tests to see if you are using the correct posture when seated and walking.
  1. Walking: Are you distributing your weight evenly throughout your foot as you walk. To test whether you are, take of your shoes/sneakers, and examine the soles. Look at the shoes that you have worn the longest. Is the wear evenly distributed throughout? Excess wear on either side of the heel could indicate a problem with your posture. Your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist may want to take a look at the wear patterns on your shoes, and see the way you walk before determining a plan on how to correct your posture or muscular imbalance.
  2. Seated or Standing: If you have a full length mirror available at your house, stand next to it so that when you turn your head you can see your profile. Now imagine that your room were equipped with a laser that could pass vertically through your body, from the ceiling to the floor. If your body were exhibiting an ideal postural profile, the laser would bass through your earlobe, the front of your shoulder, the center of the hip, behind your kneecap, and in front of your anklebone. Now, pull up a simple chair and have a seat, again in front of the mirror, where you can see yourself in profile by turning your head. Imagine the laser again passing through the top of your head from the ceiling. It should pass through the same locations.

Improving Your Posture: If either of these two tests indicate that you may have a postural problem, there are many things you can do to bring your body back into balance to protect your back. Here are some techniques you can do.

When Sitting: Forget all the new age, chairs and couches with poufy cushions and unique angles. The best chairs for your back are those that allow you the ability to keep your back straight, with your back and legs at 90degree angles to one another, and your upper and lower legs at 90 degree angles to one another. While seated., keep your stomach muscles pulled in, and maintain the proper curve in your lower back.