How to Attain and Maintain Good Posture

A woman examining her posture

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One of the most common questions physical therapists are asked is, "How do I sit with better posture?" Being aware of your posture can help you sit and stand up tall, and it may help you maintain full freedom of movement and functional mobility. So, is there an easy way to sit with better posture, and will this help your back pain?

One of the most common causes of low back pain is poor sitting posture. When you sit, especially for long periods, the excessive strain is put on the muscles, tendons, and discs in the low back. This strain can lead to low back pain.

Anatomy of the Spine

The low back, or lumbar spine, is comprised of 5 bones called vertebrae. Between these bones are spongy shock absorbers called discs. There are two parts to the disc: the inner part called the nucleus pulposes, and the outer part called the annulus fibrosis. The nucleus pulposes is a jelly-like material, while the annulus fibrosis is stiffer. The discs can, therefore, be thought of as mini jelly doughnuts between the bones. There are many muscles and ligaments that attach to the lumbar spine.

When viewing the spine from the side, a forward curve called a lordosis can be seen in the low back. When sitting, many people slouch. This slouched position causes the forward curve in the low back to reverse. The reversal of the forward curve puts excessive strain on the front side of the disc, and the jelly in the middle of the disc gets pushed towards the back. When the jelly pushes out far enough, nerves are pinched and low back pain may occur.

Learning how to attain and maintain proper sitting posture is one of the most effective treatments that your physical therapist can prescribe for you if you have back pain.

How to Attain Correct Sitting Posture

Normally there should be a forward curve in the low back. The key to improving your sitting posture is to maintain that forward curve at all times.

One way to maintain proper when sitting is to use a small towel roll or lumbar pillow to help support the curve in the low back. To use a lumbar roll properly, sit in a chair with your hips pressed all the way up to the back of the chair. Then lean forward slightly and place the roll at the small of your back, at the level of your belt line. This will help keep the proper curve in your low back. You can make your own lumbar roll with a small towel or pillow.

Another way to attain and maintain proper posture is to perform the slouch-overcorrect exercise. This repeated motion of slouching and erect posture helps to train your body to maintain the best posture for your spine. Wearable technology devices, like the TruPosture Smart Shirt, can also help train you to maintain proper posture.

Another trick to maintain proper posture while driving is to sit up tall, and then adjust your rearview mirror. If you are slouching, you won't be able to see behind you using your mirror.

A Word From Verywell

Poor sitting posture is one of the major causes of low back pain. It puts excessive pressure on the discs, muscles, and joints in the back. Exercising and maintaining proper sitting posture are important steps to eliminating or preventing low back pain. If you have low back pain, check in with your physical therapist and learn how you can attain the best posture. That way, you can quickly and safely get back to your normal active lifestyle.

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