The Evolution of Posture

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A couple of months ago, the Economist released a map (shown below) to illustrate the findings of a worldwide survey conducted out of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation to look at “the burden of disability” across different countries. As clearly marked in the graphic, you can see that lower back pain took the crown for most common causes of disability, globally.  See the full study here.


Looking at this map, a question that comes to mind is “why is back pain so prevalent across all of these countries?”

Pointing Fingers at Evolution

Last week, IFL Science offered an explanation to this phenomena with Kimberly Plomp, a human evolution researcher in the Department of Archaeology at Simon Fraser University. In the article, they explore the idea of evolution as one of many to blame for our prevalent lower back pain, and how added pressure and stress on our spines is one of the steep costs of the evolution of upright walking.

Our ancestors, as they walked around on all fours, appear to have been in a much better position to disperse stress on the spine and experienced less lower back pain as a result. When our more recent ancestors evolved into bipedalism to adapt to environmental and climate changes some 1.9 million years ago, a change began to take place in the curvature of the spine into what we now call an “S shaped” spine. Though the advantages of walking upright are numerous — such as adaptation to water and land combination climates — it seems, to Kimberly and IFL Science’s point, that this rapid change in evolution may have put us at a disadvantage when it comes to staving off back pain.

The Future of Human Posture

Looking back on the many changes our bodies and postures have gone through to adapt to different environments, climates and survival techniques, we can’t help but wonder “what’s next?”. As we enter an era of sedentary lifestyles and the widespread usage of technology, more and more of us are spending extended hours at our desks, slouched in front of computers and hunching over mobile devices. Looking around, it almost seems as though we’ve devolved from standing tall and upright back to a hunched over position, much like our ape ancestors — except for one key difference: we’re no longer made to comfortably sit or stand like that.



Our upright, S-shaped spines are already putting us at risk of developing lower back pain, but add in multiple hours of sedentary, upper body slouching every day and we’ve pretty much sealed our fate for a lifetime of poor posture and back pain. There’ve already been multiple studies done on the effects of long-term sitting and poor posture, all pointing to increased back pain, lost productivity and even decreased energy. If there’s any such thing as “survival of the fittest” in our modern day society, correcting your posture may be the first step.

Solution to Posture

Correcting a lifetime of poor posture isn’t an easy feat; it takes time, work and energy to maintain the beautiful, upright posture that evolution gifted us and we so carelessly seem to have forgotten. The first step is to remember and understand what good posture is.

Whether you are sitting or standing, make sure to pull your shoulders down and back, lift your head and chin up,  open up your chest and back straight. When aiming for good posture, it’s important to avoid hyperextending which can add extra stress on your spine, and to remember to hinge at the waist when you want to lean forward or back. Learn more here.

Once you know what posture to aim for, the challenge becomes maintaining that over an extended period of time without slipping back into old habits. Try setting an alarm every 30 minutes to an hour to help you practice posture mindfulness throughout the day, or get yourself a Lumo Lift to do the reminding for you.


Ready To Lift?

Maintain great posture and start your habit change 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 traveled 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.


Start your positive habit change today 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 traveled and calories burned. Compatible with iOS/iPhone 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.


  • Jessica

    Slipping back into ild habits is so easy to do! Maybe if I had to walk by a mirror all day I would keep it up. ?

    • Ellie Kulick
      Ellie Kulick

      We agree! Poor posture is a tough habit to break for many of us.

      • Katie Kennedy
        Katie Kennedy

        Hi Ellie,
        Great article on posture & evolution. I would just recommend
        1. Once lift chest, chin goes DOWN.
        2. Bend from the HIPS not the waist. Bending at the waist (belt line) bulges lumbar discs. Bend at the hinge hip joints, far below the waist.
        Keep up the informative & motivational info sharing!
        Best Regards,
        Katie Kennedy, DPT

      • Pamela griffin
        Pamela griffin

        Hi, I have Scoliosis, but did not know I had it until I was an adult, and moved to Boston, and my Dr’s told me. I had pain on weekends, when I wore high heel shoes to Church. I thought all girls had pain from heels, and I would never complain, because I felt fortunate in my life, and hearing my friends complain was so sad for me., for I wanted to say, but you have your health and you can walk, be grateful. I have the Lumo, but it does not work. I was so excited to buy it and then nothing worked. Thanks forblistening.

  • Brian

    I’m a busy 41 old man who had no time to go to yoga class. I remember that part of my life when the sciatica pain was literally killing me and when I couldn’t fall asleep because of it. Thank god, my sciatica is gone.

    Obviously, I did something to cure it and I’m about to tell you what. I did a research and found an e-book which taught me how to cure sciatica without investing a lot of time and money. I’ve followed everything carefully, did suggested exercises, streches and I treated my sciatica in just 5 days! It’s hard to believe, right? Well, it’s truth.

    If you want to know more about that ebook, then read this review:


    (replace * with a dot, because I can’t post links here)

    • Ellie Kulick
      Ellie Kulick

      Hey Brian,

      Thanks for sharing your experience! That’s wonderful that you were able to address sciatica with these stretches and exercises. I’ll definitely take a look at the link you shared.


  • Pingback: The Evolution of Posture | Cowires

  • Elena

    I used to have a very severe form of sciatica… But, now I remember it only as a bad dream!

    I’m a busy person, so I had no time to visit professional physiotherapist, get a massage, acupuncture etc. I didn’t know what to do and the pain was killing me, I could barely fall asleep. So, I did a research hoping to find something that could help me. And guess what?

    I found one e-book which taught me a lot about sciatica, it’s symptoms, causes and how to cure it. I followed it carefully and I completely got rid of my sciatica in 1 week! Can you believe that? It thought it’s a miracle, but then I did some more research about this e-book and found a lot of satisfied readers who also claimed that they cured they sciatica fast. What a finding! for more information about the product visit :

  • Cindy Errickson
    Cindy Errickson

    As stated above…. this is only an idea. I do not believe we ever walked on all fours except to search for something under the sofa (which is probably a more accurate cause for hunching over… the couch potato not the searching).

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