Healthy Sleep

Does Bad Posture Cause Back Pain?

Sitting, standing, walking – all activities we do on a daily basis. But have you started to notice a pain developing in your back and neck area while doing simple everyday tasks? This might be because of bad posture.

Posture is a natural part of how our bodies function. It affects and is affected by all the things we do every day.

Most people spend about 8 hours each day sitting down. You might start feeling discomfort while you’re hunched over a computer screen, working on a sketch, filling out paperwork, or a million other possible menial tasks.

You also might start feeling pain while you’re walking to work, falling in line to buy coffee at your favourite café, or driving to school to pick up the kids.

If you’re reading this article, this might be the time for you to take a good look at your body posture and evaluate whether you need to make a physical change for your health and comfort.

Can Bad Posture Cause Back Pain?

Professions have been built on the understanding that proper body posture, positioning, and alignment are key to solving body pain. Physical therapists and chiropractors would agree with the multitude of scientific studies that prove that, yes, bad posture can cause back pain.

Musculoskeletal discomfort has been linked to back, neck, and shoulder pain with postural awareness helping to reduce discomfort.

In one research study involving what is called the Back School programme, results showed a significant reduction in pain in the subject group of nurses experiencing chronic back pain after receiving ergonomics training and exercising physical therapy methods.

Another study indicated that while the act of sitting itself did not affect back pain symptoms, sitting combined with several other factors can – and let’s face it, in our everyday lives, other factors are always involved.

That research presented how whole-body vibrations (as experienced by helicopter pilots and truck drivers) and awkward positions can increase the risk of lower back pain.

The Other Side Says There’s No Link Between Bad Posture and Back Pain

However, there have actually been several studies arguing the opposite stance – that there is no significant link.

Lower back pain (LBP) can be caused by a multitude of factors (previous back injuries, body vibrations, muscle endurance, etc.). Because of this, some researchers have questioned whether we can really blame posture for our back pain.

One 2010 research paper looked into the correlation between lower back pain and the postural-structural-biomechanical (PSB) model to understand whether posture really does play a significant role.

Some of the main conclusion points stated in that paper were:

  • “PSB asymmetries and imperfections are normal variations—not a pathology.

  • The body has surplus capacity to tolerate such variation without loss to normal function or development of symptomatic conditions.

  • There is no relationship between the pre-existing PSB factors and back pain.”

Improving Posture

With the numerous studies conducted on back pain, posture, and other factors, it can be safe to assume that back pain may be caused by any number of reasons, and we recommend going to a physician to determine the root cause before making any assumptions.

In the event that you identify the cause of your back pain to be bad posture, there are different ways to address it.

TIP #1: Pick the right desk and chair

If you’re like the millions of people working a 9-to-5 job at the desk with a computer, chances are, you might be experiencing the same aching feeling from your sitting posture.

It’s probably best to pick an office chair that is ergonomically made to make you sit properly as much as possible and at the right angle. It is equally important to pick out a deck at the right height to match you and your chair so your arms are never awkwardly positioned and you don’t end up hunching over to do your work for long periods of time.

TIP #2: Do strengthening exercises

Bad posture can be a sign of weaker muscles in the back and torso area. Build your back muscle, especially around the shoulder blades so you’re less likely to develop poor posture. Strengthening your core muscles, is important too, building your upper body to improve posture.

Soon you'll reduce back pain and sit up with better posture before you know it. Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School's publishing division, recommended 4 ways to turn good posture into less back pain, three of which are simple exercises you can do.

TIP #3: Consider replacing your mattress

Alleviate back pain by having the right mattress. For all you know, one of the things aggravating your body pain is your bed (an old sagging mattress is not a good idea). The perfect bed can remove the strain on your back from sitting, standing, and walking all day.

READ: 3 Things to Consider When Buying a Mattress for Back Pain

And even if your lower back pain (chronic or not) isn’t caused by posture, it’s probably best to keep good posture anyway to prevent the incidence of osteoporosis when you age – and maybe even to just look and feel more confident!