It has been engrained in all of us that is is important to sit straight, shoulders back with our chin up.
This is something we have all been told to do since we were children sitting in school. Maybe some people even received the cane for slouching!
Every day we see people selling the perfect posture correcting exercise programs, electronic products to remind us to sit straight and even health professionals telling us that posture is the problem to our pain.
Why? Traditionally, we have been told that sitting in a slumped position could damage our back, or be the cause of lower back or neck pain.
But what does the current research suggest? Are these beliefs supported by evidence?
(Warning: this may go totally against your current believes but hear me out!).
With science and research continually evolving, we now understand that there is no perfect position, or “correct” posture for our back. It appears that despite our traditional beliefs, sitting up straight is not optimal to slumping (when looking at risk of injury and pain).
We now understand that back pain may have more to do with the time we spend in a static position and less about the position itself. This may be linked to the amount of load that is being placed on certain spinal structures which we may not be used to.
Of course, you may start to feel uncomfortable sitting in a slumped position for an hour, but would the same be true if we were told to sit straight with our shoulders back for the same time?
Instead of posture being the issue, perhaps we can start focussing on time spent in a certain position, and learn to vary our posture every so often.
Perhaps instead of looking at posture as good verse bad, we can now start to look at the importance of changing our posture to suit our comfort levels, whether this be slumped, twisted or leaning to the side.
Our backs are so robust and resilient and they are designed to move in all different positions! It is adaptable to change and can become strong in many different positions, including a bent or slumped one.
Still not sure? Take a few minutes reviewing these articles:
Sit up Straight” – Time to Evaluate
PMID: 31366294 DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2019.0610
Text neck and neck pain in 18-21-year-old young adults
PMID: 29306972 DOI: 10.1007/s00586-017-5444-5
Questions? I’d love to hear them!