Centre for Spine and Movement Related Disorders

strategies for chronic and more complex

problems to help restore active lifestyles


Rehabilitation - Sports - Standing MRI - X-Ray

Straightening Up Your Life

At some point in time we’ve all been told something along the lines of “sit up straight”, “stop slouching”, “bring your shoulders back”, “chin up”, “stand tall”.  It may be something our parents said to us when we were growing up, a teacher at school, a friend encouraging us at times when we were a bit down, or even a health care practitioner.  Possessing a ‘good’ posture compared to a ‘bad’ one (let’s face it, no one wants to look hunched back) is something that is encouraged, but does it really matter at the end of the day?

While the word posture can have different meanings for different people, many in society at least consider posture to be an important ingredient of who we are and how we project ourselves.  A good posture also enables us to enjoy and be our most effective during work, sport, study and leisure activities.  In contrast, some may have experienced discomfort at times when their sitting posture wasn’t ideal or upon waking up on the couch in the ‘lounge’ room.  Since most of us would wish to project a positive image highlighting our self-worth, along with being productive and avoiding unnecessary pain during our activities of daily living, it makes sense to invest in our posture.

Some Tell Tale Signs

Headaches, a sudden episode of neck or back pain, a gym injury, constant or periodic niggling discomfort can often be the result of faulty posture and movements.  While some faults are related to the body having not developed satisfactory posture/movement quality as a baby or as a result of damage to the body due to trauma, most often our habits are to blame.  For example, it should come as no surprise that sitting slouched over a laptop/tablet device day after day eventually takes-its-toll – technology has made us more mobile, but less active.  Some signs of a possible standing/walking posture problem include:

     •     Forward head position

     •     Drawn up / turned forward / non-level shoulders

     •     Protruding belly

     •     Sway back

     •     Turned out and/or flat foot / feet

     •     Uneven muscle development.

Aside from a disruption to quality of life, if certain posture and movement faults are not corrected, a range of problems may result such as activity limitations, permanent disability, and/or possibly eventually needing surgery.

Developing Healthy Habits

So, what are some practical healthy habits worth being reminded of:  

     •     When sitting, choose a chair that has adequate firmness to hold your weight properly.  Sit upright, without slouching.

     •     Sleep on a firm, but comfortable mattress so that your body is held level – where your  shoulders and hips adequately depress into the mattress.

     •     Sleep on your back or on your side with your legs slightly bent and perhaps a pillow between your knees.

     •     Your pillow should be neither too high nor too low.

     •     Avoid sleeping sitting in a chair or in cramped positions.

     •     When reading, avoid having a forward head posture – alter the position of the book, computer screen instead.

     •     Stand and walk in a ‘lengthened’ manner, with relaxed shoulders.  Imagine a piece of string, attached to the top of your head, gently pulling you up to be taller.

Despite our best attempts, unfortunately some problems can still exist, which benefit from particular health care practitioner assistance.  Clinical care and customised exercises can often help to prevent unnecessary pain due to posture and movement pattern problems that are beyond your self-care ability and/or conscious control.

So, consider whether you need to improve your posture and take the necessary steps to feeling better.

You may wish to take advantage of free resources available at: straightenupaustralia.com.au, juststartwalking.com.au, backyourinnerathlete.com.au, and sitright.com.au.  There are also widgets available for download to assist you.  These sites are put together by the Australian Chiropractors Association as a community service initiative for the annual Spinal Health Week.

We can also provide advice regarding the best type of pillow, mattress and types of furniture for you, along with office/computer/desk set up.

If you’d like a posture assessment or need help for a particular posture problem, call 9584 4856 to book your appointment.

This is general health advice designed for public educational purposes only. It does not constitute individual health advice and should not replace thorough consultation with a registered chiropractor.