If You’ve Got Back Pain, Maybe it’s Time to Look at Your Posture?
Making conscious changes to the way we stand, sit or even lie down can often alleviate pain because it relieves muscle tension that builds up with poor posture.
The good news is, with persistence and consistency, better posture can become just as much of a habit as bad posture, which will invariably help your sore back. Combined with the awareness that we learn as second nature through a yoga practice, you should see a dramatic difference!
“To act in yogic way means we attend to what we are doing with impeccable attention. Attentiveness is the fundamental quality”
Are You Guilty of One of these 7 Common Posture Problems?
Sometimes just noticing how you’re holding your body can do the trick, allowing you to adjust, but be warned – sometimes your body is so accustomed to being held in a poor position, it actually aches and complains when you align yourself correctly again! That’s why you need yoga to correct and bring awareness to your body in every posture crisis, like these below…
The Chair Slouch
Sitting with a heavily rounded back with the pelvis held in an anterior tilt and the chest compressed leads to strain and increased muscle tension. Rounded shoulders are pretty common with this one too. Stand in front of a mirror and allow your arms to hang by your sides. If you notice your palms face backwards, it’s probable your shoulders are rounded, which can mean a tight chest and a weak upper back.
Try to sit mindfully and correctly, evenly distributing the weight through your sit bones and maintaining a tall spine and making sure your feet are both even on the ground and your knees are over your ankles. Make sure your working chair at work is one that supports good posture and improves alignment and do stand up and move around at least every 30 minutes, taking a few deep breaths.
The Duck Bum
Plenty of people tend to unintentionally stick their bottoms out behind them in a condition known as hyperlordosis.
This creates an exaggerated curve of the lower back (lumbar spine). Over time, strain is placed on the lower back and it can become uncomfortable to stand for any length of time.
To correct this problem, try to avoid wearing high heels and putting on too much weight around the belly. Keeping your core and buttocks strong with specific exercises as well as stretching your thighs out can all help to correct. Laying on your side and raising the leg can really help to build up strength in the glutes. When standing try to keep your shoulders over your hips and pull in your abdomen.
The Flat Pack Back
The opposite of Duck Bum, the Flat Pack Back is when you tuck your pelvis in and have a straight lower back instead of is natural curve. This results in a rounded shoulder stooping forwards and is often seen in people who are quite tall. The head and neck are often pushed forwards which results in neck strain. Standing for long periods of time becomes very uncomfortable because of muscle imbalance.
To alleviate flat pack back symptoms, it’s recommended that the spine it taken the other way, in particular the chest is opened and lengthened. Strengthening the gluteus medius is also a good way to support the spine and lower back here.
The One Hip Wonder
This is where you stand with the weight more on one leg than the other, rather than evenly distributing the weight through both feet. Instead of correctly using the buttocks and core to keep your upright, pressure is excessively placed through one foot, leg, hip and lower back. Eventually a muscle imbalance develops in the pelvic region which leads to strain in the lower back where it tries to compensate for the weak spots.
Typically the peg leg is when a person tends to carry things on one shoulder or children on one hip.
To correct this posture problem, just stand evenly whenever you remember to.
The Text Neck
This is an actual thing and how very 2019! Similar to the chair slouch, looking down at your phone lends itself to a rounded (and weak!) upper back with a strained neck and stiff shoulders. Similar to the flat pack back, you need to take the spine in it’s opposite direction, so plenty of chest stretches working on the pectorals and spacing the collarbones, with rear shoulder strengthening exercises. Gently taking the neck in it’s full rotation will also help to correct a hunched back and text neck. Hold your phone at eye level rather than looking down at it really helps too!
The Chin Poke
When your computer screen, TV or even tall partner is higher than your natural eye level, you can end up literally poking your chin up. Considering the weight of the head, the Chin Poke can have an impact on the neck muscles by the strain of carrying the weight, but also the shoulders as often they’ll lift close to the ears to try to help out the neck. Adjust your seat so you have your computer or TV at eye level and ask your partner to stoop.. just kidding, maybe just talk sitting down? Using the lower belly to support the spine is also a good idea.
The Phone Cradle
This one is really common for office workers and anyone who tries to multi-task when they’re on the phone. Holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder is not a good idea for any length of time because of the high levels of stress and strain the position puts on the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders. Done too often and you’re looking at imbalances in the neck and damage to soft tissue. Either hold your phone, or use hands free. Be sure to gently stretch the neck by dropping one ear to the shoulder and breathing deeply for 5 breaths before repeating on the second side.