Chiropractic for Good Posture

Chiropractic for Good Posture

            If there is anything that the chiropractic provider is an expert in, it’s the proper alignment of the spine both after trauma and in daily life. Posture is extremely important in achieving and maintaining overall health, and chiropractic treatment provides a solution to a multitude of postural problems. With over 65 million Americans experiencing back pain, it is evident that correct posture is increasingly becoming a large problem in today’s world, especially with technology and obesity and contributing factors. 


Good Posture vs. Bad Posture


            Ensuring that all of our patients have good posture is the pinnacle of our profession. Spinal manipulations begin with intention to ensure the patient leaves better than when they came in.


Definitions of Good & Bad Posture:


  • Good Posture – optimal posture is when the spine is in alignment with the head and limbs. shoulders relaxed and down, abdomen tucked in, upright and balanced.
    • Dynamic Posture – how the patient holds themselves while in motion (walking, running, etc.)
    • Static Posture – how the patient holds themselves while at rest (sitting, standing, laying)
  • Bad Posture – shoulders rounded, abdomen protruding, over arched spine – these are qualities in general of bad posture, but there are 4 main types of bad posture:
    • Swayback – also known as hyper lordosis or lordosis, and it is when the pelvis and hips tilt forward in front of the midline of the body. Essentially, the lower back has an inward curve with the butt and stomach are stuck out.
      • This type occurs most often if the patient sits a lot during the day as this tightens the back muscles, and weakens the glutes and abdomen. This can also be from injury, abnormalities of the spine, obesity, and neuromuscular conditions.
    • Forward Head – when the head is positioned in front of the midline of the body.
      • This posture problem is what is now known as tech neck or text neck caused by hunching over a smart phone or laptop or even a steering wheel if the patient’s job requires them to drive often. It can also simply result from aging.
    • Kyphosis – an exaggerated curve of the thoracic spine causing rounded shoulders also known as hunchback.
      • In older people, this can be caused simply by aging in general or by age-related conditions such as osteoporosis or degeneration of the spinal discs. In younger people, this can be caused by diseases like polio, chemotherapy or radiation, and infection.
    • Flat back – the natural curve in the lower spine loses some of its curve making the lower back look flat and the person slouches forward.
      • This can be present at birth or can develop after back surgery or degenerative conditions in the spine. This type can make it difficult to stand for long periods.
Essentially, the goal is to be sure there is minimal stress applied to each joint. Maintaining good posture and keeping it needs consistent work, and as chiropractic providers we need to keep but not increase the natural curves in the spine. We see the effects of poor posture every single day in chiropractic practice, and it goes far beyond a patient not “standing up straight.”

Bad Posture can result from:

  • Stress
  • Pregnancy
  • Slouching
  • Inactivity
  • Genetics
  • Strained muscles
  • High heeled shoes
  • Obesity
  • Weak postural muscles

Potential Effects of Poor Posture on Health:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty digesting food
  • Neck, shoulder, and back pain
  • Joint range of motion
  • Reduce flexibility
  • Increased risk of falling; affecting balance
  • Misalign the musculoskeletal system
  • Spine wear and tear allowing for stronger possibility of injury
There are also many postural issues we see daily that chiropractic treatment is able to treat and/or correct.

Postural Problems that Chiropractic Can Treat:


  • Hunchback
  • Scoliosis
  • Uneven Hips/Pelvis
  • Common types of bad posture (forward head, flatback, etc.)
  • Damage to the natural curvature of the spine
  • Muscle weakness/fatigue
  • Ataxia
  • Spasticity/spasms
  • Neck/shoulder/back pain
If the spine is out of alignment it can lead to joint or muscle pain, neck and back pain, or greater potential for injury during work or exercise.


Posture Advice for Patients


            While posture is something that we see often, as a chiropractic provider, it is not only our job to make adjustments, but also to provide advice for lifestyle adjustments and exercises to improve posture out of the office.


Improve Posture Standing:


  • Shoulders back
  • Pull in the abdomen
  • Allow more of the weight to fall on the balls of the feet
  • Keep the head level
  • Keep the feet shoulder-width apart
  • Stand up straight and tall
  • Allow the arms to hang naturally at the sides

Improve Posture Sitting:


  • Take short walks/breaks around the office or home
  • Switch sitting positions often throughout the day
  • Be sure the back is properly supported by using a back pillow or something of the like if the chair that supports the curve in the lower back
  • Keep the feet on the floor allowing the ankles to be in front of the knees, and don’t cross your legs
  • Make sure the feet actually touch the floor, and if not possible, obtain a footrest
  • Make sure that the hips and thighs are supported with the hips and thighs parallel to the floor and using a padded seat
  • Keep the shoulders relaxed; not rounded or pulled too far backward.
Having and maintaining good posture is not only better for the musculoskeletal system, but it also uses less energy in the body. Not to mention that the muscles work more efficiently if they are properly aligned. The goal with recommended exercises for patients to use at home is to develop their strength, balance in the body, and flexibility, so their posture is ultimately improved.


At-Home Posture Exercises for Patients:


  • Child’s Pose – this is something that is great to provide patients because many people are familiar with this pose, even if they don’t regularly practice yoga. A resting pose that will release tension in the lower back and neck. It will also lengthen and stretch the spine, hamstrings, and glutes. The patient should relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
  • Forward Fold – a standing stretch in which the patient stands with the heels slightly apart and big toes touching, then fold forward at the hips with the knees slightly bent. Doing this stretch will release tension in the glutes, spine, and hamstrings as well as the legs and hips. The patient should relax in this pose to up to 1 minute.
  • Cat Cow/Standing Cat Cow – this is another exercise that many patients may be familiar with. Practicing this pose both massages and stretches the spine. It will also relieve tension in the shoulders, neck, and torso, and allowing for increased blood flow. The concept of this stretch/pose is the same traditionally (on the hands and knees) as well as standing (standing with the hands on the thighs). On the inhale, the patient will drop the abdomen toward the ground, and on the exhale, arch the spine toward the ceiling tucking the chin into the chest. They will continue the movement for at least 1 minute.
  • Thoracic Spine Rotation – this exercise relieves pain in the back and increases stability and range of motion. For this exercise, have the patient go down on all fours, place one hand behind the head, exhale and rotate elbow up toward the ceiling, hold here for one inhale and exhale, then release back down to the original position. Repeat on the anywhere between 5 and 10 times on both sides depending on the patient’s range of motion, and other conditions.
  • Glute Squeezes – this exercise relieves lower back pain while activating and strengthening the glutes. It will also improve the patient’s function of the pelvis and hips. For this exercise the patient will lie on their back with their knees bent hip-width apart. Exhale as they bring their feet closer to the hips, hold 10 seconds, then move them away again. Continue for 1 minute.
These are just some examples of possible at-home exercises for patients to improve posture to be sure they are getting continual treatment after their chiropractic appointment. There are also exercises like isometric rows, pigeon pose, downward facing dog, high and side plank, chest opener, and supine marching to name a few.


Chiropractic & Posture


            The more we can provide our patients both in and out of the office, the better probability they recover from other issues that ail them in addition to improving posture. Chiropractic treatment allows for us to objectively observe the patient’s range of motion as well as posture positioning to assist in correcting posture, treating ailments, and reducing risk of injury.