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Back Safety: Poor Posture Hurts

An unhealthy spine often starts with bad habits. Poor movement patterns and posture problems are common causes of back pain. Disk, bone, nerve, and soft tissue problems can all be affected by poor posture. They can lead to pain, stiffness, and other symptoms.

Side view of lumbar spine.

Poor Posture Backfires

Poor posture can cause pain. Too much slouching puts pressure on the disk. An excessive lumbar curve can overload and inflame the vertebrae. As a result, the back muscles may tighten or spasm to “splint” and protect the spine. This adds to the pain you feel.

Side view of three vertebrae and disks showing flexion.

Proper Posture: The Key to Safe Movement

Your spine bears your weight throughout the day. This is true whether you’re sleeping, standing, or bending. Certain positions strain your spine more than others. But by maintaining proper posture in all positions, you can reduce the stress on your spine.


Graph showing stress on back in 8 positions

To improve your standing posture, follow these steps:

  • Breathe deeply.

  • Relax your shoulders, hips, and ankles.

  • Think of the ears, shoulders, hips, and ankles as a series of dots. Now, adjust your body to connect the dots in a straight line.

  • Tuck your buttocks in just a bit if you need to.

Online Medical Reviewer: Images Reviewed by Staywell medical art team
Online Medical Reviewer: Larson, Kim, APRN, FNP
Online Medical Reviewer: newMentor board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 7/18/2013
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