Welcome to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts!

"Johns Hopkins Health Alerts is an excellent site and I have recommended it to several of my friends. Thanks again, and keep up the good work!"
  • - D. Ambrosio


This free public service from Johns Hopkins Medicine helps keep you up to date on the latest breakthroughs for the most common medical conditions which prevent healthy aging.

Get the latest news sent straight to your inbox for FREE. Check all the boxes below for the topics that interest you.
We value your privacy and will never rent your email address

Johns Hopkins Health Alert

Improving Posture to Prevent Back Pain

Comments (0)

Contrary to popular belief, standing at attention like a military recruit -- with the head and shoulders rigidly pulled back and the lower back excessively arched -- is not correct posture and can actually be hard on the back. Good posture allows the body to follow the natural S-shaped curve of the spine. 

As simple as that sounds, poor habits, previous injuries and even ill-fitting shoes can contribute to improper spinal alignment. Poor posture can strain muscles and ligaments and increase the risk of compressed nerves. 

The easiest way to evaluate your posture is to stand sideways in front of a mirror when you're not wearing any bulky clothing. Ideally, it should be possible to visualize a vertical line running straight from the front of your earlobe through the front of your shoulder, down the center of your hip, just behind your kneecap, and just in front of your ankle bone. Your chin should be parallel to the floor, not thrust outward. Alternatively, stand with your heels against a wall. If the back of your head, shoulders, buttocks and calves touch the wall -- and you can slide your hand between the wall and your lower back -- you have good alignment. 

To check your posture while sitting, sit in an armless chair with your side to a mirror. You should be able to visualize a line running through the same points of your upper body down to the center of your hip. Perpetual slouching with the shoulders rolled forward causes kyphosis (an abnormal accentuation of the curvature of the upper back). Mild kyphosis can usually be corrected through a program of exercise. More severe cases may require surgical correction. 

Posture varies with age. As people get older and lose height because of disk changes, the curve in the lumbar region of the back tends to straighten, leading to a slight stoop, which is normal. In addition, the curve in the thoracic region tends to become accentuated with age. 

Posted in Back Pain on September 16, 2011


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


Notify Me

Would you like us to inform you when we post new Back Pain Health Alerts?

Post a Comment

Comments

Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


Post a Comment


Already a subscriber?

Login

Forgot your password?

New to Johns Hopkins Health Alerts?

Register to submit your comments.

(example: yourname@domain.com)

Customer Service

Registered Users Log-in:

Forgot Password?

Become a Registered User!
It's fast and FREE!
The Benefits of Being a Registered User

Health Topic Pages

  • Health Alert
  • Special Report

What is this?

XML