a couple of years ago

Mind Your Posture And Stand Tall Against Back Pain

Maintaining a healthy posture when sitting, standing, or moving around can make all the difference to the amount of aches and pains you feel in your back.

Mind your posture

Posture is not something many of us think about, as our ways of sitting, standing and moving become second nature to us over time.

However, when our posture is off it can be bad news for our bodies.

As this unbalances us and puts certain parts of the body under increasing pressure and strain.

Which means your muscles, ligaments and joints have to work much harder to keep you upright than they should.

And this leads to aches, pains and niggles that you could really do without.

So correcting your posture is important and can play in a big part in reducing and maybe even getting rid of your back pain.

Is Poor Posture Causing Your Back Pain?

Poor posture can cause back pain

If your back starts to nag away at you while you sit, stand, or move around, then it may have something to do with the way you're holding your body.

Because your body is coming under constant pressure from the forces of gravity.

And if your posture isn't right you become unbalanced, which means this pressure isn't spread evenly and your body struggles to cope.

This means certain areas have to bear the brunt of this extra burden, especially your lower back.

And because of this your back muscles and ligaments become overworked and fatigue and pain ensues.

This extra pressure and strain on your back can also lead to tight muscle knots forming, which are another major cause of back pain and discomfort.

Because they block the blood supply to your muscles, which deprives them of the oxygen and nutrients they need to heal, repair and stay healthy.

While also trapping waste and toxins in the area that cause them even more damage.   

So, you need to do all you can to work on your posture and stay well balanced to make life easier on your back.

As this way your body can distribute the workload evenly, and the muscles in your back will stay more relaxed and healthy.

The Benefits Of Maintaining A Healthy Posture

Being able to lower your back pain levels is a huge plus of maintaining a good posture.

But it's not the only thing you'll get.

As carrying yourself in the right way will also bring you a range of health benefits such as:

  • It will stop your muscles from becoming fatigued so easily, allowing you to do more and without the pain.
  • You'll be able to breathe easier and more deeply, which is great for keeping you relaxed and healthy in mind and body.
  • It improves your circulation, which helps in a multitude of ways including with your digestion.
  • Your internal organs function better when you're maintaining a healthy posture.
  • It reduces the wear and tear on your joints and lowers the risk of picking up injuries.
  • Holding yourself upright can improve your mood, make you feel more confident, and will make you more attractive to boot.

So, it's a good idea to work on your posture even if you don't currently have back pain.

When Do You Need To Be Aware Of Your Posture?

mind your posture when sitting

The short answer to this question is 'all the time'.

Because there isn't a second of the day where you're not exposed to the forces of gravity.

Which means you need to make sure you're well-balanced and holding yourself correctly no matter what you're doing.

Maintaining good posture while sitting

The development of lower back pain is extremely common in people that have to sit down for a few hours each day.

This occurs for a number of reasons such as compressed vertebrae, a lack of movement, and a weakening of the core muscles meaning your back receives less support.

And another big reason for it is sitting with a hunched and unhealthy posture.

As this heaps a ton of extra pressure onto your lower back, neck, and shoulders.

So, some of the things you need to avoid when sitting include:

  • Leaning forward or hunching over with your spine in a C-shaped curve, rather than sitting upright with a healthy S-shaped neutral spine.
  • Slouching on a couch or sofa at an unnatural angle.
  • Looking down or off to the side at a screen or TV rather than straight ahead.
  • Crossing your legs or feet rather than having both feet planted on the ground for support.

And instead work on sitting in a way that will reduce the pressure and keep your back muscles relaxed and healthy.

Maintaining good posture while standing

It's more understandable when your back starts to ache after you've been standing for a while rather than sitting.

Because your muscles have to work much harder here to keep you upright.

And this also means that when your standing posture is bad, your back will come under much more pressure and strain.

So, try and incorporate the following when standing to reduce the pressure on your lower back.

  • Stand up straight, keep your head up, and make sure your shoulders are squared and back. 
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart and well planted on the ground.
  • Make sure your core muscles are active to support you and stop your stomach from protruding out.

And it also helps to adopt small movements and shift position regularly, as this will release any tension that has built up in the muscles.

Maintaining good posture while lifting

I'm sure many of us have a horror story to tell about the time we put our back out when lifting something heavy.

And the main reason for this happening is when we try to lift with a bad posture.

Because if your body isn't strong, stable, and well balanced when lifting then all the pressure and strain will be placed on your lower back.

So, it shouldn't be a surprise if your back goes pop!

However, by maintaining a good posture as you lift you can greatly reduce the chances of this happening.

And some of the things you can do include:

  • Keep your back straight and your gaze looking ahead as you lift.
  • Make sure your core muscles are activated to support and stabilise your lower back.
  • Lift with your knees rather than your back.
  • Keep the load close to your body and your elbows in.
  • Don't twist while lifting.

But even when you get your lifting posture right, you should still follow good practices like warming up your muscles beforehand and not lifting anything too heavy to avoid injuries.

And be careful when putting things down again as well.

Click here for 11 safe lifting techniques.

Maintaining good posture while shoveling

Shoveling can be back breaking work if you're not careful.

Because it involves powerful movements that place heavy demands on your body.

And when you shovel without the right posture these powerful movements can really strain and damage your back.

So, it's really important to adopt a safe and healthy posture when shoveling that keeps your body balanced and minimises the pressure on your spine.

And you can start by:

  • Standing with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Keeping your hips and shoulders facing the load.
  • Shifting your weight forward and backward through the hips rather than bending at the waist.
  • Engaging your core muscles when lifting the load and lifting with the legs rather than the back. 
  • Keeping your back straight and not bending over.
  • Not twisting your body when throwing off a shovel load, instead turning with your feet.

You should also take regular breaks, don't overwork yourself, and warm up thoroughly beforehand.

Maintaining good posture while driving

Sitting behind the wheel of a car or truck brings with it similar problems for your back as sitting in a chair if you do so with a poor posture.

However, these problems are amplified in a vehicle, as you absorb whole body vibrations as you drive which really ramp up the pressure on your muscles, ligaments and discs.

So, it's even more important to get your sitting posture right when driving.

The problem is that many car seats aren't the most supportive and can force you into an unnatural position.

While drivers can get into bad habits such as slouching or sitting too far away from the wheel.

So, try and adopt the following in your vehicle to keep your body in a healthy posture and your back out of trouble.

  • Position your seat so you can reach the steering wheel while keeping a bend in both elbows, and also comfortably reach the pedals with your feet.
  • Make sure the steering wheel is central and keep both hands on it as you drive.
  • Set the wing mirrors up so you don't need to twist or strain your neck to use them.
  • Use a lumbar support cushion to add support to your seat and keep your spine in a healthy S-shaped curve.

Also take regular breaks where you can get out, have a stretch, and shake off any muscle tension that has built up.

Click here for 17 tips on avoiding back pain when driving.

Maintaining good posture while exercising

Exercising and staying active is one of the best things you can do to keep your back strong, healthy and free from pain.

However, overdoing things or working out with a poor posture can have the opposite effect.

And leave you in agony for days afterwards.

So, it's important to stay mindful of your posture as you exercise to make sure the pressure is spread evenly whatever you're doing.

You should also make sure you strengthen your core muscles and stretch regularly, as this will give your back more support and stability.

And be sensible by warming your muscles up beforehand, otherwise injuries and back pain become much more likely.

Click here for some stretches that can help keep your lower back supple and flexible.

Maintaining good posture while doing the gardening or DIY

Many people enjoy spending their weekends and free-time tending to their garden or renovating their homes.

However, while these activities are rewarding, they can cause you problems if you're not careful.

Because they involve lots of powerful movements, bending, twisting, shoveling, and lifting, which can make your back scream if you don't mind your posture.

So, you need to follow the advice I've already giving here about maintaining a good posture when doing these kinds of activities.

And always warm up beforehand, as cold muscles are much more likely to ping!

Click here to read more about how to avoid back pain when gardening.

Maintaining good posture while sleeping

Unfortunately, you can't even switch off from the forces of gravity and posture when you hit the sack at the end of the day.

Because allowing your neck and spine to fall out of alignment as you sleep puts your back under increased pressure at a time when you should be resting.

And this is why you wake up in the morning full of stiff, tight and aching muscles, rather than feeling relaxed and refreshed.

So, you need to keep your body aligned and balanced in bed for a happy back, and there are a couple of ways you can do this.

One is by using a mattress that isn't too soft or too firm, but instead offers the ideal balance of comfort and support that relaxes you yet keeps you in a healthy position.

And you also need to use the right head pillow for your preferred sleeping position, as it's easy for your neck and spine to fall out of alignment otherwise.

So, make the effort to get both of these things right and you should notice the difference.

And the good news is that getting a better night's sleep is great for helping your back recover from any pain too.

Click here for 8 ways to get a good night's sleep for people with back pain.

Ergonomics That Can Help You Maintain A Good Posture

Good ergonomics can make all the difference

Becoming aware of your posture and how you're holding yourself is half the battle when trying to improve it.

However, old habits can be hard to break.

Which means changing your posture can feel uncomfortable and unnatural to begin with.

And this can make it hard to maintain.

However, there is plenty of ergonomic equipment available designed to make it easier for you to maintain a healthier posture.

So, give yourself a helping hand in the posture battle with the following.

Ergonomic office chairs

Sitting in a traditional office chair that is lacking in support and adjustable options is a recipe for disaster.

As these 'one size fits all' chairs force your body into an unhealthy posture as you sit.

Putting unnecessary pressure and strain on many areas of your body, especially your lower back.

Which isn't ideal if you're spending 8 hours per day sitting in one.

Using an ergonomic office chair on the the hand can relieve this pressure and keep your body in a more naturally comfortable position throughout the day.

Because you can fine tune these chairs to fit your body like a glove.

As you can adjust the seat height and depth, the height and angle of the arm rests, the sitting angle, and the strength of resistance of the tilt mechanism.

And they come with a curved design and lumbar support that makes it simple to sit with a healthy S-shaped curve in your spine, rather than being all hunched over.

So, for office workers who want to maintain a healthy sitting posture, an ergonomic chair is a must.

Click here to read more about the best ergonomic office chairs for your back.

Ergonomic office equipment

As well as an adjustable ergonomic chair, you should also consider fitting your home or work office out with some other items that can keep you in a healthy posture throughout the day.

One of these is an adjustable sit/stand desk, as this will allow you to alternate between sitting and standing at regular intervals which relieves pressure and keeps your muscles active.

And you should pair this with an anti-fatigue mat that keeps small movements happening while you stand to stop you from developing pain and tension.

Then there are ergonomic keyboards and mice that keep your wrists, forearms and elbows in the right positions to avoid things like repetitive strain injuries.

While a monitor arm or laptop stand will keep your screen at the ideal height so you're not looking down and straining your neck.

And using a wireless Bluetooth headset allows you to talk hands free, rather than cricking your neck as using a traditional phone can.

So, you have plenty of options here to turn your office into a place where good posture is a given. 

Click here to read more about how to set up your desk correctly to maintain a healthy sitting posture.

Lumbar support cushions

Adding a lumbar support cushion to a chair that is lacking in lumbar support is a great way of maintaining a healthier sitting posture.

As these cushions stop your back from flattening out against the chair, instead keeping you sitting with a healthy S-shaped curve in your spine.

Which is great for relieving pressure and strain on your lower back, and allows your back muscles to rest and relax rather than becoming tense.

And you can use these cushions in the office, at home on the couch, or even in the car when driving.

So, if you don't want to go the whole hog and invest in an ergonomic chair, a lumbar support cushion is a decent alternative.

And you can even get inflatable lumbar support cushions to take with you on vacation to minimise the pain of crappy and unforgiving airplane seats.

Click here to read more about the best lumbar support cushions for your back.

Back support belts

Wearing a back support belt is a great way of giving your core muscles a helping hand in supporting and stabilising your spine to avoid pain and injury.

And they can also help you to maintain a good posture too.

Because by compressing the abdomen they shift your body up into a more upright position, which spreads pressure more evenly.

And this compression also restricts your range of motion, meaning it's more difficult to slouch or overstretch yourself.

However, be aware that these belts should only be used in short bursts and when you really need them.

As keeping them on too long can weaken your core and back muscles, meaning you'll get less support and it'll be harder to maintain posture when you take the belt off.

Click here to read more about the best back support belts for your back.

Wearable posture braces

Wearing a posture brace over your shoulders is a good way of training your muscles to sit or stand up straight rather than slouch.

As they encourage your upper body into an upright posture which keeps you better balanced and reduces any strain.

This makes it easier to maintain that healthy posture throughout the day.

And over time your muscle memory will adapt and you'll find your posture becomes better naturally.  

You can also get more high-tech posture correctors, which work via an app on your smartphone and beep each time you fall into an unhealthy posture.

Which can be annoying but also helpful and effective!

Click here to read more about the best posture braces and correctors for your back.

Supportive mattresses

The mattress you sleep on plays a massive part in whether you can sleep with a good spinal alignment or not.

Because a mattress that is too soft will allow your body to sink in too far, throwing your body out of alignment.

While a mattress that is too firm will put loads of extra pressure on your pressure points, and make a relaxed night's sleep impossible.

So, you want to find a mattress that is more in the medium-firm range, which gives you a better mixture of comfort and support.

As this will allow your body to sink in just enough to relieve pressure, but also push back enough to support you and stop you sinking too far in to it.

Which will keep your neck and spine in alignment and ensure you have a healthy sleeping posture that makes waking up in the morning a joy rather than a pain.

Click here to read more about the best mattresses for your back.

Using the right pillows

Another thing you need to stay on top of to maintain a healthy sleeping posture is to use the right pillows for your preferred sleeping position.

As you need to get the right loft and firmness to keep your neck and spine in alignment.

So, match up your head pillow to your sleeping position as follows:

  • Back sleepers - Aim for a pillow with a medium loft and medium firmness to support your head.
  • Side sleepers - In this position you need a higher loft pillow that is firm enough to keep your head high.
  • Stomach sleepers - Look for a flatter pillow that is soft enough to allow your head to sink into it.

And you can also use a variety of body pillows to raise your knees or hips to keep the entirety of your spine in alignment.

So, make sure your sleep is deep and restorative by getting yourself the right type of pillows.

Click here to read more about the best pillows for people with back pain.

Rounding Up

Having a good posture is about more than looking good and proper.

As it also plays a big factor in whether you experience back pain or not.

Because holding your body in a poor posture places extra pressure and strain onto your lower back, which is a major reason why you might have developed back pain.

Switching to a good posture on the other hand will spread this pressure evenly, allowing your muscles to relax and function normally.

And this will make life much more comfortable for you, whether sitting, standing, driving, or moving around.

So, mind your posture and kiss the aches and pains in your back goodbye.

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I'm a psychology graduate and a veteran of 5 spinal surgeries. I want to help people learn how to fight back against persistent back pain just like I have.