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Poor Posture: The Straight Story

  • Category: Spine & Neck
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Kim Safman, MD

Like many things in life, it turns out your mother was right. Poor posture is not just a bad habit or a sign of decreased confidence. Numerous studies have proven that poor posture puts pressure on the disks inside the spinal column and can lead to low back pain, tension headaches and neck problems. The stress that poor posture exerts over time can also lead to degeneration of the spinal disks and may require more invasive treatment. Is it really so difficult to stand up straight?

Small children who are learning to walk exhibit perfect posture. It allows them to maintain perfect balance as they begin exploring the world on two legs, rather than on all fours. That’s a clear indication that good posture comes naturally to us, and poor posture is actually an acquired habit. A lifetime of bad posture can eventually make you feel like you should be on all fours!

What is the ideal posture? Stand straight up against a wall, with your heels, buttocks, upper back and head touching the wall. This position is the ideal alignment of your spine. It allows your back muscles to support the disks and maintains the ‘s’ curve that characterizes correct posture.

While it may feel odd if you have been slouching for years, a little effort to maintain correct posture will have a big payoff. It won’t take long before good posture becomes a habit, and you’ll go a long way toward avoiding the nagging health problems that plague those who don’t stand erect—a small trade-off for doing what comes naturally.