Many of us don’t think about our posture daily. We only focus on it when someone tells us we’re slouching or when we start to have back pain and other related discomforts.
Posture is an integral part of whole-person wellness and impacts things like your breathing, digestion, muscle tone, and even your mental health. So many of the everyday pains and complaints people have are caused or worsened by poor posture. But what exactly is poor posture? And what constitutes “good” posture?
Experts have identified eight types of posture, some of which are considered good and some bad. While these are not the only eight types of posture a person can have, they form the basis for various postural habits and issues. Identifying your specific kind of posture can help you decide which course of action is best for you to take to correct any problems.
In the following article, we’ll answer what the types of posture are in detail and talk about some of the options you have for correcting your posture problems.
Before we explore habits and conditions that cause poor posture, let’s first define good posture. There are two types of recognized “good” posture: natural and military. Many people believe that military posture is superior because of its association with power and respect, but in reality, it’s not ideal. An exaggerated military posture involves standing with your stomach muscles pulled in and your back ramrod straight. Maintaining this posture can quickly lead to muscle fatigue from having to hold this unnatural stance.
Natural posture is the ideal way to hold your body. This involves having your back reasonably straight, head aligned with shoulders, and shoulders aligned with hips. Your spine is naturally curvy, so you should not be “straight as an arrow” when you stand or sit. At the same time, your spinal curves should not be exaggerated or increased when you’re in a natural posture.
What is Lordosis?
Lordosis is an excessive curve in your lower spine. It’s sometimes known as “swayback” and can give a person an awkward posture where their upper body appears too far in front of the midline relative to their lower body.
The physical appearance of lordosis posture can be noticeable when naked or even sometimes when clothed, depending on how deep the curve is. In most cases, the lower back curve disappears when you bend over, but in other, more rare cases, the curvature is so significant that it remains even when you’re leaning.
You can check for lordosis by lying flat on the floor. You may have this condition if there is a significant distance between your lower back and the floor, or in the case of cervical lordosis, your neck and the floor.
What Are the Symptoms and Effects of Lordosis?
Lordosis can cause lower back pain that can sometimes affect daily life. Some people with severe lordosis may experience other symptoms associated with nerves in the back being trapped or compressed. These can include muscle weakness or poor muscle control, bladder incontinence, feelings of tingling, “pins and needles,” or electric shock-type sensations.
What is Kyphosis?
Kyphosis is a condition where the upper back is rounded, causing a “hunched” appearance. Kyphosis posture often develops over time due to slouching during the teen years, but it’s also a common condition post-menopause. This is because of the weakening of the upper body muscles and the loss of bone density that occurs with age and can affect women more than men. In some cases, kyphosis may be due to structural problems with the spine present from birth.
What Are The Symptoms and Effects of Kyphosis?
Mild postural kyphosis (the kind you get from sitting in a slouched position over time) usually doesn’t cause any severe problems, but if left untreated, it can lead to problems later in life as the muscles weaken further. Back pain, especially while walking or sitting, is a common symptom.
Congenital kyphosis (the kind you’re born with ) tends to be a more serious condition. It worsens over the early years of the child’s life and can cause pain and affect growth. Surgery may be necessary to correct this.
Forward Head Posture
What is Forward Head Posture?
Forward Head posture is just what it sounds like: a posture in which the head juts forward, ahead of the body’s normal vertical alignment. This posture is usually the result of maintaining poor neck posture over a long period. This posture is sometimes referred to casually as “nerd neck” or “tech neck” because it’s a common side effect of habitually looking down at cell phones and computer keyboards.
Forward head posture used to be less common than it is today and was found mainly among office workers. Now, thanks to our being immersed in a device-filled world, many of us, even young children, are developing tech necks.
What Are The Symptoms and Effects of Forward-Head Posture?
Usually, forward head posture is more of a cosmetic issue than anything else, but it can become a painful problem over time. The neck muscles that help hold your head in place get stretched and weakened when you maintain a forward head posture long-term. This can lead to neck pain, trouble holding your head up for long periods, poor range of motion in the neck, and other issues.
What is Flatback Posture?
While most well-known back problems are due to excessive curvatures in the spine, this particular issue is the opposite. Flatback syndrome is a condition in which your spine doesn’t have the standard degree of curvature. This is seen most commonly in the lower spine but can also be found in the upper spine.
What are The Symptoms and Effects of Flatback Posture?
The curves in our spine help us balance, regulate our gait, and absorb the shock of walking and running. If the proper degree of curvature isn’t there, you will likely have pain, especially during walking or other impact activities. The body overcompensates for the absence of a spinal curve by readjusting itself to stand and move in unnatural ways. Holding these dysfunctional postures every day can cause you to feel tired and weak, especially at the end of the day.
Poking Chin Posture
What is Poking Chin Posture?
Poking chin posture is often used synonymously with forward head posture. Sometimes, this term is used for a specific variation of forward head posture where the chin pokes forward with the face tilted up, even though the neck is craning forward and down.
What Are the Symptoms and Effects of Poking Chin Posture?
The effects of poking chin posture are the same as those of forward head syndrome.
What is Uneven Posture?
The term uneven posture can refer to many things, including the postural problems mentioned in this article. However, for clarification, we will refer to uneven posture here to mean conditions where one shoulder or hip is higher than the other. This is obviously not a choice or habit; it’s something you’re born with, but it can be worsened if you don’t address the problem.
Sometimes, having higher and lower sides on our body is natural and mild and won’t cause any problems. Nobody is one hundred percent symmetrical, and these small variations cause no harm. Other times, the variation is significant enough to affect the gait, our sitting and sleeping positions, and causes pain and discomfort.
What Are the Symptoms and Effects of Poking Chin Posture?
Many people with uneven shoulders feel pain in the higher shoulder or may have general upper back pain. Uneven hips can cause lower back pain, hip pain, and even knee pain. A person may notice that specific exercises or movements are more difficult on one side of the body than the other. If the hip imbalance is extreme, you may walk with a slight limp.
What To Do About Posture Problems
For most mild to moderate posture issues, you can find relief through exercise, physiotherapy, and chiropractic care.
Exercise and Reconditioning
In the early stages of posture issues, you can help yourself by learning better posture. This is not easy at first, but after the initial adjustment period, you’ll get used to holding your body up in healthier ways.
There are countless tutorials online that can help you take control of your posture. Exercises you can do at home are surprisingly effective at retraining your muscles and brain to stand, walk, and sit correctly. For example, you can perform this simple exercise to correct forward head posture aka text neck. Yoga, pilates, and other forms of stretch-and-strengthen exercise routines can have a significant positive impact on your posture.
Staying active is essential if you’re trying to correct your posture. People who sit in the same position for long periods tend to have more posture problems than those who get in at least a couple of hours of physical activity per week. This also helps to keep your body at a healthy weight, which can help because some posture problems can be linked to obesity.
Making Your Life Posture-Friendly
Sometimes, the things we use and do daily can lead to poor posture. Recognizing these pitfalls and finding solutions can help you in your posture correction journey.
Problem: You’re hunched over electronics all day:
Solutions: Invest in a more comfortable chair, a laptop riser, and a phone holder. If you work or read in bed or on your couch, use pillows to help you sit comfortably aligned.
Problem: Posture feels off when walking or jogging
Solutions: Better shoes or orthopedic inserts; stretch before activity
Problem: Stiff neck and forward-head posture in the mornings.
Solutions: Evaluate your pillows. Sleep with only one pillow that’s of better quality.
Problem: Your back feels fatigued, and you slump more at the end of the day.
Solutions: Try a posture correcting brace in addition to exercise and better shoes. These correctors can help you maintain a healthy posture throughout the day and prevent back fatigue.
Not all posture problems can be corrected at home or through basic self-guided exercises. If your posture problems are long-standing or severe, you will likely need to enlist the help of a professional. A chiropractor or physical therapist can create a plan of exercise and treatment that can improve your posture, ease your pain and discomfort, and increase your mobility.
In some cases, posture problems are due to certain conditions that cause spine irregularities, such as scoliosis. These conditions can make it difficult for a person to have good posture, even if they have worked on it for years. It’s a matter of their spine being shaped differently.
While people with these conditions may never have “normal” posture, they can work with their health care professionals to improve posture the best they can and achieve a higher quality of life. Surgery may be necessary in extreme cases to correct these issues.