How to Minimize Back Pain by Maintaining Good Posture

Good posture means maintaining the three gentle curves in your spine.

Good posture means maintaining the three gentle curves in your spine.


The strain on the spine while you sit is 30 percent more than when you stand, and 50 percent more than when you’re lying down. Thus, you should minimize strain while you’re sitting, and avoid long periods of sitting without moving.

When you sit, plant your feet firmly on the floor and place your bottom right at the back of the chair (impossible to do with your legs crossed). A cushion or a footstool may be necessary if the chair is too high or deep for you. Lift your ribcage upward and forward, and nod your head down gently to keep your chin tucked in.

Armchairs are usually too deep, but use cushions to adjust the chair to your body shape rather than sinking your body into the contours of the chair.

When sitting at a desk or table, you can achieve good body alignment by leaning forward at the hips with knees apart. Use the edge of the desk – with arms resting on it – to support the chest. You can hold a book with one hand, at the correct eye level, and rest your chin on the other hand.

When driving, sit at a distance from the wheel so that your elbows are bent and your head is in line with the trunk of your body. Adjust your seat where necessary. If the back of the seat doesn’t have a supporting contour for the lumbar spine, support the lower back with a molded cushion.


Avoid prolonged standing at home or at work. However, if your job requires a lot of standing,  you can minimize back problems by standing the right way:

* Balance most of your body weight just in front of your heels.

* Don’t lock or push back your knees.

* Lift your rib cage slightly in front, and release any exaggerated curve of your lower back caused by tight back muscles.

* Let go of tension in your shoulders.

* Gently nod your head down and let your neck feel long at the back and free from tension.

Improving your body posture will gradually become habitual. However, avoid strain by changing gradually, keeping with present limitations and not overcorrecting or tensing the muscles. As Dr. Johnson said, “What we hope to do with ease, we must first learn to do with diligence.”

Practicing good posture has one immediate benefit – it makes you look good!  Not everyone has the luxury of ergonomically-designed work centers with adjustable desks and footstools, gas-powered office chairs with lumbar supports and apparatus provided to position reading material and computer screens at eye level. However, you can adapt the principles of good sitting posture to almost any situation.



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Mark Cruz
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Donald Pennington
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