18514 N. Dale Mabry Highway - Lutz, FL 33548 - Telephone: 813-968-9411 - Fax: 813-963-2407


Dr. Mike Radice

Posture and Back Pain

Whether we’re sitting, standing or walking, good posture is a vital component in helping prevent low back pain as well as neck pain and many common headaches. Proper posture maintains the skeleton in optimum position which reduces stress on the muscles – the “painful” part of back and neck pain. When we sit to watch TV or more likely the computer, it’s very easy to crane our necks forward, slouch in the chair and cross our legs (or even sit on them) – the trifecta of fatigue! This trio of bad back habits places significantly greater strains on the cervical, thoracic and lumbar curves. Remember that our spines are designed to have 3 front to back curves, creating an “S” shape and creating a spring-like mechanism for our skeletons to absorb the stresses of gravity and other outside forces we put them through. Don’t confuse these curves with the side-to-side curves of scoliosis.
For the neck, try to avoid a “head forward” position by adopting a more neutral position where the ears are more above your shoulders. It may seem a little uncomfortable at first, but it can really reduce muscle fatigue and even help minimize degenerative changes in the vertebrae of the neck and upper back. Sitting with bad posture can be bad for your low back as well. Slouching removes the necessary lumbar curve and again places a much greater burden on the low back muscles which fatigue and become painful and can even go into spasm. To help return to better seated posture, try to sit with both feet on the floor and the small of your back touching the back of your chair. You may need to adjust your chair (if possible) or add a lumbar pillow or support for best positioning. The dividends can be significant as you reduce muscle fatigue and pain. And don’t forget – you sit when you drive, so the same rules apply.
Standing and walking with proper posture is all about balance. Left to right weight shift is very important and front to back balance (forward lean) is also a key in maintaining a neutral skeleton and in reducing low back muscle fatigue. Consider your stride length to no overreach and think about keeping your “head over hips” position to prevent forward lean. Try and be more conscious about a good 50/50 weight balance on both feet. In our office, we’ve determined prolonged standing to be a common cause of back pain and fatigue. An excellent tip to help those who do find themselves standing for long periods is to ensure that you don’t lock your knees. Maintaining a slight bend helps the knees act properly as “shock absorbers” even when standing still. Plus, proper foot ware is a must! So many times, I hear about how people like to go barefoot in Florida – especially indoors. Bare feet on any floor surface, but especially tile can be very detrimental to not only foot and heel pain, but is a contributing factor to many people’s low back pain. Even a simple pair of sandals or the lightest footwear is better than nothing at all. Of course, well-fitting and well-cushioned footwear is the best solution for this situation. Orthotics or over-the-counter cushion inserts can also help absorb the load we put on our feet and low backs every day.
Try to incorporate these changes regarding your posture habits consistently in order to make positive progress in preventing low back and neck pain with good posture. And if you have any questions concerning good posture, bad posture or the effects of both on overall health, please contact your health care provider to get answers and good guidance to ensure you Grow Healthy and Stay Well.

18514 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz, FL 33548
Tel: 813.968.9411  |  Fax: 813.963.2407

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