How Your Posture Affects Your Back

Slouching and being a high school kid go together like gila monsters and the desert around Show Low. But maybe we should have listened when our Mom told us to stand up straight and push our shoulders back.

Our backs wish we had been paying attention. Our spine is a miracle worker of stability, but when we stoop or slouch, when make our muscles and ligaments try to provide support that the spine otherwise would. This can make them strain and cause back pain.

We deal with back pain every day at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic, much of it caused by things as easy to fix as our posture. Here are some tips on better posture and less back pain.

The natural curves in your spine

It’s easy to think of your spine as a relatively straight line, but it’s really anything but straight. It has three natural curves built in.

  • An inward (think forward) curve at the neck. This is called the cervical curve.
  • An outward (backward) curve at the upper back, the thoracic curve.
  • An inward curve at the lower back, the lumbar curve.

Good posture maintains these natural curves.

What is good standing posture?

So, just what does good posture look like? You Mom definitely had it right about your head up and shoulders back. Here’s how you should stand:

  • Stand straight with your shoulders comfortably pushed back.
  • Your head should be level and in line over your back and chest.
  • Pull your abdomen in.
  • Feet should be the width of your shoulders.
  • Don’t push your knees backward; leave them slightly flexed.
  • Your weight should be primarily on the balls of your feet.

You can check your posture with an easy test. Stand against a wall with your head, shoulder blades, and buttocks touching the wall. Have your heels about 2-4 inches away from the wall. Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back with your palm flat against the wall. You should have about one hand’s thickness of space between your back and the wall in that spot. If you have more, you need to pull your abdomen in somewhat. If you have less, you need to arch your lower back a bit.

Good sitting posture

Here’s how you should sit, especially if you’re a desk jockey.

  • Your thighs should be parallel to the floor and your feet flat on the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Keep a small gap between the front of your chair and the back of your knees.
  • If your chair doesn’t support the lumbar spine, place a rolled up towel or small pillow there.
  • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed, not rounded or pushed back.

Good posture is important to a happy back. However, injuries and back pain can still happen. When they do, don’t hesitate to call Dr. Trujillo and the team at Summit Healthcare Pain Clinic Associates, (928) 532-1605. We promise we won’t say we told you so about standing up straight.

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