Poor Posture Decoded

Good posture across time and cultures seem to have one universal standard: head up, shoulders back, chest out, and feet shoulder width apart. Mom taught you this, and your chiropractor, physical therapist, and trainer will all nod in agreement.

However, what seems to have more variance is the types of poor posture that we see across people of different professions, daily habits, and age. Here are 4 of the most common types of poor posture.

1. Hunching (also known as Kyphosis)

hunching_postureThis is your classic head down, shoulders forward, and an exaggerated curved upper back, posture. It’s likely the most common form of poor posture and is typically with people who spend too much time sitting at their desks and computers — and let’s face it, who doesn’t slouch a little at work!

The Danger: The hunching posture puts tremendous pressure on your neck and back, and eventually leads to back pain and weakened upper back and core muscles. The worst part? It’s a vicious cycle — weak upper back and core muscles make it more difficult to sit in a healthy, upright position, and not sitting in good posture weaken these muscles. See the problem?

The Solution: Avoid hunching by investing in proper equipment like monitor risers and ergonomic chairs, and work on strengthening your upper back and core muscles. These foam roller exercises are a great place to start.

 

2. Sway Back (also known as Hyperlordosis)

swayback_postureIf hunchback is having too much of an upper back curve forward, Sway Back is the reverse of that. Sway Back posture refers to having an exaggerated curve in the lower back. When lying down flat on the back, you’ll notice a large gap in the lower back region in people with Sway Back posture. Often paired with a lower belly bulge, and an almost reclining upper body, this type of posture is common in people who spend the majority of their time standing.

The Danger: Sway Back posture is caused by weak abdominal muscles that are unable to pull the upper body forward (like when you do sit-ups), causing the joints and ligaments to bear the weight of the body. Overtime, if untreated, Sway Back posture becomes more pronounced as the abdominal muscles weaken and more weight is unequally distributed amongst the spine.

The Solution: Ab strengthening workouts like crunches and oblique exercises help build up the core muscles required to pull the upper body forward. In addition, stretches and massages to relieve back muscle are also beneficial in correcting Sway Back posture.

Related: Sway Back No More

3. Flat Back

flatback_postureContrary to Sway Back posture, Flat Back (as the name may suggest) is when the spine loses the natural lower back curve and becomes flat. In order to compensate for the lack of curvature in the lower back, people who suffer Flat Back often have a characteristic forward lean, hyperextended knees and a slight tilt in their pelvic bone. Surprisingly, one of the causes and characteristics of people who have Flat Back is strong abdominal and oblique muscles. The enhanced muscles in the abdominal region pull the upper body forward and flatten out the spine.

The Danger: The lack of the natural S shaped curve in the back can eventually make standing upright difficult, as well as an ongoing pain in the leg and muscle fatigue.

The Solution: Doing abdominal stretches and hip flexor stretches can help release some of the built up tension in the core and legs — aiding in restoring a healthy curvature in the spine.

Related: Flat Back Syndrome

4. Rounded Shoulders

rounded_shouldersThough not specifically a spinal problem, rounded shoulders is a common ailment for people who spend extended hours in poor posture. The excessive slouching rolls the shoulders forward, often resulting in uncomfortable pain between the shoulder blades and upper back pain. A quick test for rounded shoulders is the Pencil Test, where you hold a pencil in both hands while letting your arms relax by your side. Forward pointing pencils is a sign of properly aligned shoulders, whereas if the pencils point toward each other or point at an angle, it may be an indicator that you have internally rotated shoulders.

The Danger: Rounded shoulders tighten the chest area and compress the diaphragm, often leading to shallow breathing which inhibit oxygen flow throughout your body. It also contributes to upper back pain and the weakening of back muscles.

The Solution: Similar to the solutions for relieving hunching, the best fix for rounded shoulders is to practice good posture. Try these 6 stretches to prevent rounded shoulders and improve your stance.

Related: Round Shoulders


Ready To Lift?

Curb your bad posture habits with Lumo Lift

Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that tracks and coaches you on your posture, as well as tracks daily activity, such as steps taken, distance travelled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone, Windows desktop and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money-back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.

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Ellie Kulick

About Ellie Kulick

Ellie specializes in all things content and communications at Lumo BodyTech. Her passions are in tech, writing and in health. She loves to create and share content that is useful and easily digested by the reader. BS in Psychology, Northeastern University. Find Ellie on Twitter.

3 Comments

  • Rex Owens
    Rex Owens
    11.08.2015

    Good job. I think this was an excellent article for a lay person to understand.
    My first look at your product was on one of the Intel Engineers working on the device, I was doing a coaching session and asked what the device was. I’m hoping my company EXOS partners with yours. We have all of the Intel, Google, Tesla, etc accounts for corporate wellness and this product would be invaluable.
    Thanks
    Rex Owens MSc, PES, CES

  • Nancy Witt
    Nancy Witt
    12.08.2015

    I have been a physical therapist for 44 years. Now in my “golden years,” I realized I was slouching, experiencing upper back and neck pain. I learned about the development of Lumo Lift, and participated in the crowd funding. I have been using my Lumo Lift since it arrived. It gently vibrates to remind you to correct your posture. It also counts steps, and projects calories burned. After a few months, I am routinely clocking 9 hours of good posture on the device. But what is more exciting is that even when I am not wearing it, early mornings and evenings, I notice I am maintaining good posture, correcting for slouching automatically! No more pain…

    • Ellie Kulick
      Ellie Kulick
      12.08.2015

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m so glad to hear that you’re enjoying your Lumo Lift and your back and neck pain has gone away. We created the Lumo Lift with the intention to coach customers to be more mindful of their posture so that good posture becomes second nature. It’s so great to hear that you’re noticing better posture even when you aren’t wearing the device 🙂 9 hours of good posture a day is very impressive, too!

      Cheers,
      Ellie

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