Developing bad standing posture

Hi,

I have reason to believe that I am developing a bad standing posture at the ripe old age of 25. The first sign is that I have been experiencing increasingly worse lower back pain. The second sign is that various, independent people have commented on how I walk “like an old man” and that my back is not straight when I walk.

The problem is that when I try to walk using the correct posture (shoulders back, stomach out and head up) it causes a pain in my back so I revert to my usual stooped position. However I do not have a problem when sitting and know that I have a good sitting posture.

Is there any way I can fix this by myself with some exercises or other methods? Or do I need to go and see a specialist to learn how to walk again?

Thanks

The problem with fixing this yourself is that you got yourself into the situation. You’re losing your ability to extend the spine and you’re succumbing to constant flexion because it feels normal. When you try to extend the spine (shoulders back and head up, not sure where you got “stomach out”), it feels abnormal and painful to you but it’s exactly what you need.

I seriously doubt your sitting posture is good. It’s more likely that you simply aren’t feeling pain in that position. But as you say, your overall back pain is increasing. Again, you’re probably not the best judge of this because you may not be able to see it.

foundationtraining.com/home/
You can try the workouts at this link. They have lots of youtube videos if you look around the site. If that doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to see someone.

Physio clinics are everywhere. Some of them are just quacks, but one or two are very good. Try a selection. I have back problems too (mainly caused by sitting in front of a computer too much) and I was lucky to find a young guy who had trained in the US, explained what the problem is and why it happens, and taught me some helpful exercises. The main problem you’ll have is that most patients just expect a bag of pills and half an hour hooked up to a machine, so that’s what the doctor prescribes. You’ll have to explain to him that you want to learn how to manage this yourself. What you describe, incidentally, is not “correct” posture.

One easy exercise you could try (rather hard to describe, unfortunately) is this.

Breathe in a little, then exhale to empty your lungs. Straighten your spine by:

  • bringing your shoulders back (don’t exaggerate this bit - remain comfortable and it will naturally put your neck in the right place)
  • your head looking forward (not up)
  • lifting and expanding your ribcage (this will naturally bring air into your lungs, but don’t focus on drawing a deep breath).

A full-length mirror is helpful.

You should be able to breathe from your diaphragm while maintaining this posture. Hold for ten seconds, relax, and repeat three or four times.

Much of the support for this action will come from your abdominals, and you should be able to feel your belly sink inwards, with strongly contracted muscles in front and at your sides. This will feel quite awkward and unfamiliar at first - you’ll need to practice to figure out what all those muscles do, because you haven’t been using them - but once you get used to it, it’s one of those things you can do several times a day as a quick ‘stretch’ away from the desk.

As formosafitness just said, though, you probably need a professional to show you how to restore flexibility in your spine and redevelop your core musculature. The above is not a quick fix - it’s just something that might help you feel a bit better.

Is exercise a good substitute for worrying about posture? Because I think so. I used to do lots of translating all day, sitting in a chair, and I found regular exercise to be more effective at curing pains than worrying about posture. Don’t know what other peoples’ experiences are.

No specialist needed. I had the same problem. My wife was complaining about my posture, telling me to mind it, and I said that just minding it doesn’t help at all. I started running four times per week and the problem disappeared. This exercise helped as well: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plank_%28exercise%29 4x30 seconds every day is all you need.

I’m with Eddie G.
Regular exercise, and proper breathing are oft the key to relieving back problems.

I get recurring back problems, due to past professional stress, and lower sinks, ceilings and sinkholes in this nation.
I find leg lifts, jesus stretches, and crab posture reps, all work for me. But one must keep it limber, which means a bit a regime.

The problem with Eddieg’s answer is that he doesn’t know he had the same problem. He just recognises a few symptoms described online, the cause is absolutely unknown. I would go and see a professional , as it is almost certainly simply bad posture but bad posture can be caused by injury, it can also lead to injury. I’d go and get it looked at.

Dude is 25. He didn’t say anything about getting injured when doing exercise, falling down, or such. Why would he be injured? You don’t get injured by just sitting on your ass in front of a computer, you get out of shape. Of course he could go to the doctor but it would be like Taiwanese people going to the doctor to cure a cold. That being said, it’s a great idea to go to the doctor if that’s what will keep the OP from just thinking about the problem instead of acting.

This presentation may benefit you, involving relatively new research on back pain, turning some of the conventional wisdom on how best to address it, on it’s head. Highly recommend taking the time, and if you do follow the recommendations, let us know here how it all goes for you:
youtube.com/watch?v=WHn3IsrKOv8&feature=plcp
Also see:
youtube.com/watch?v=1ynDDYe0 … plpp_video

Do you stand more than you used to? Have you put on any weight?

In addition, maybe things have changed but, the Taiwanese seem to have posture discussions in their discourse. I had a student tell me once that I hunch my shoulders. Kid couldn’t grasp the present simple for love nor money, but he knew how to tell me my shoulders were hunched, in English! Used to hear the posture convo a lot over there. Just like when I was in Japan I was always concerned about arthritis (those guys are bonkers over cracking and clicking their bones) in Taiwan I worried about my posture. Maybe you just hear that convo because you live with people who obsess about their own posture…

I dunno therefore if you do have bad posture or if you are being forced into imagining it… My sister goes to see a physio once every 2 months. She gives him 80 pound, he moves her hip about for 20 mins and she says she feels awesome again. I dunno if she is mad or what.

By the way, the presentation above demonstrates the underlying issues for both back pain and bad posture.

Yes! I totally agree. The lack of exercise weaken you posture since your muscles hold you bones like a hammock, true! When you exercise regularly is like you are tightening your muscles and they hold your skeleton in place like a really tight knot, helps you posture, put your shoulders back in place and you weight is well distributed and your upper body is not just hanging on your spine.

Yes! I totally agree. The lack of exercise weaken you posture since your muscles hold you bones like a hammock, true! When you exercise regularly is like you are tightening your muscles and they hold your skeleton in place like a really tight knot, helps you posture, put your shoulders back in place and you weight is well distributed and your upper body is not just hanging on your spine.[/quote]

Not to be the thorn here, but bad running will make your posture worse.

And good running?

Yes! I totally agree. The lack of exercise weaken you posture since your muscles hold you bones like a hammock, true! When you exercise regularly is like you are tightening your muscles and they hold your skeleton in place like a really tight knot, helps you posture, put your shoulders back in place and you weight is well distributed and your upper body is not just hanging on your spine.

[/quote]
Agreed!
Except the problem with bad posture is a little more complex.

It’s short muscle versus long muscle.

If you already developed a bad posture, it’s very difficult to correct that. Exercise alone won’t do the trick.
Pulling back the shoulders won’t do the trick either. It only will make you look a bit more ridiculous.

Muscles have their most power at medium length. So, if your muscles surrounding your spine are shortened on one side and longer on the other the long muscle will not have the strength pulling you out of this.
Also, pulling back your shoulders will only irritate you and will hinder you focusing on your spine, which you will have to do 24/7 for at least 6 month to see any lasting results.
First, pull your shoulder to the front and then focus on your spine. Now bring your head up with your shoulders still in the front. When you think that your really got the feel for your spine bring your shoulders back.

I think the best way to take care of this is to have a long holiday focusing on this only. Otherwise, the short muscles will pull you right back whenever you get to do the loads of pc/writing bowing work.

White board below my hight.
Students down there.
Communication books on my lap.

I wore a corset two years ago that forced me into a straight posture. After two weeks or so it went into my knees.
All day long, I was confronted with situations where I was forced to bow down which wasn’t possible wearing this thing.
So, it had to come out of my knees, always.
Just try it for a couple of days and you’ll see what is all wrong with your daily working environment.

Merely curious how the OP is faring now after perhaps incorporating some of the tactics mentioned above.

I found that after I started doing yoga with some core strengthening moves (pilates like) I’ve automatically started to stand and sit more straight. It’s funny how I’ve never notices how bad it was before, but now I’m driving on my scooter sitting with 90 degrees straight back. Before my core was not strong enough and that kind of position was uncomfortable, now it’s natural. So for me yoga worked, but I think in general it’s about taking care of your core strength.