Most of us are no strangers to the twinges and aches of back pain. In fact, nearly 8 out of 10 people experience some degree of back pain during their lives. To make matters worse, back pain can come from anywhere. Injuries, degenerative diseases, and other health complications all contribute to those all-too-familiar throbs in your back.
Unfortunately, in addition to outside threats, your bad habits could make your symptoms even worse.
Here, Dr. Raul Lopez and our team of pain management specialists at The West Texas Pain Institute in El Paso, Texas, delve into common posture mistakes that turn up the dial on your back pain and offer fixes to help you find relief.
Whether you sit in your favorite recliner or on a hard plastic bleacher, it’s easy to slip into a slouch while sitting. Over time, a slouched position strains the muscles and soft tissues in your back, causing significant pain.
Sticking your bottom out
Also known as the “Donald Duck” posture, standing with your bottom sticking out pronounces the curve in your lower back and puts excessive strain on those muscles. Wearing high heels, carrying excessive abdominal fat, and being pregnant can all cause you to stand in this awkward posture.
Standing with a flat back
If you stand with a flat back, it means your pelvis is tucked in and your lower back is straight instead of naturally curved. Often, this posture causes you to stoop forward and your neck and head to lean unnaturally. You may also find that it makes it difficult to stand for long periods. Muscle imbalances and sitting for too long can cause this posture.
Leaning on one leg
It may seem natural to shift your weight onto one leg while standing, especially if you’ve been on your feet for a while. However, leaning on one leg forces you to overuse one side of your hips and lower back instead of evenly distributing your weight throughout your buttocks and core muscles.
Parents carrying toddlers on one hip and students slinging heavy backpacks over one shoulder are among the most at risk for problems related to one-sided standing.
Hunching over a phone or keyboard
“Tech neck” happens when you spend long periods hunched over while scrolling through your phone or typing on a keyboard. This type of posture eventually rounds the upper part of your back and causes pain and stiffness.
Poking your chin out
It may seem strange that your chin would have anything to do with your back, but if your chin pokes out while you sit, you put your head and neck in an awkward position and therefore add stress to your back. Sticking your chin out can be caused by sitting too low, setting your work screens too high, and/or hunching your back.
Rounding your shoulders
Here’s an easy way to tell if you round your shoulders: Stand in front of a mirror and let your arms hang by your sides. If your knuckles face forward, you may have a tight chest, weak upper back, and rounded shoulders.
Getting back to better posture
The name of the posture-correcting game is strengthening your muscles. But we’re not just talking about your back muscles. To change your posture for good, you need to strengthen your back, as well as your core, buttocks, and leg muscles. Some of the best exercises to start with are:
- Seated rows
- Side-lying leg raises
- Back extensions
It’s also important to stretch your back and hip muscles regularly to keep them flexible. Check in with how you stand and sit as well. Make sure your shoulder blades are down and back towards your spine, your tummy muscles are pulled in, and your feet are shoulder-width apart and flat on the ground.
Beyond your back pain
Less back pain not enough to get you sitting upright? Posture goes far beyond reduced back aches and can actually improve your health in many other ways, including:
- Fewer headaches
- Increased energy levels
- Less shoulder and neck tension
- Decreased risk of joint degeneration
- Increased lung capacity
- Better circulation and digestion
- Improved core strength
- Better form during workouts
- Taller appearance
- Increased self-confidence
Don’t spend another day hunched over in back pain. Call or click to schedule an appointment with one of our experts and get the help you need to correct your posture and start feeling relief today.