Common Posture Problems: How Physical Therapy Can Help  

Many of the patients at our Ottawa physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics are surprised to learn that their conditions stem from postural issues. Poor sitting and standing habits can lead to many more serious conditions over time.

What is “bad” posture?

Bad posture occurs when your spine is out of alignment, and your body is out of balance. Some muscles have to work overtime to keep the body upright or in a seated position, and some joints are under undue stress.

When you stand or sit with correct posture:

  • Your spine is in alignment;
  • Your weight is distributed evenly to the structures designed to hold it;
  • Your core holds the weight of your upper body, leaving shoulders and hips relaxed.

Bad posture results in:

  • Muscle imbalances;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Overtaxed muscles, ligaments and tendons.

Along with damage to the musculoskeletal system, poor posture can have wide ranging effects.

  • Your posture also affects the digestive system, which may become compromised due to uneven posture.
  • It can cause incontinence, constipation, and heart burn, among other digestive issues.

Physical therapy can help to alleviate symptoms and get you on the path to better posture and less discomfort. Your Ottawa therapist can customize an exercise program that directly addresses your postural issues.

Here are some guidelines.

Mom was right: don't slouch

Lower back pain, upper back and neck pain, hip pain... all of these symptoms may be caused by bad posture habits. Slouching places too much stress on the lower back as well as on the shoulder muscles. The more you push your head forward, the more weight you are putting on your neck and spine.

Other common posture issues include:

  • Flat back syndrome: caused by sitting for prolonged periods, it can cause pain and fatigue, and make it difficult to walk.
  • Swayback: often caused by wearing high heels, or pushing the lower back out too much while seated, and can result in hip problems as well as disc degeneration over time.
  • Hunching forward places stress on your shoulders and neck. It can be caused by leaning over to look at a mobile device. Patients with hyperkyphosis, where the spine is curved too far forward, can experience difficulty standing up straight.

Start from the top

Better posture relieves the undue stresses on muscles and joints. The basics:

  • Hold your neck straight and resting between your shoulders – imagine a string pulling you up;
  • Align shoulders, hips, and knees when seated;
  • Shoulders back and relaxed – imagine a string lightly tied to keep your elbows and shoulder blades back.

Exercises can help you where it counts the most – with your core and buttocks. A toned core can support your upper body in a balanced position, and keep you from slouching. Yoga and/or stretching exercises should also be added to the mix. Your Ottawa physiotherapist can design a regimen customized for your situation.

  • Pain and discomfort will be alleviated, although at first, if your body is used to years of improper posture, it may actually cause pain;
  • A stronger core, buttocks, neck and shoulders will support correct posture as you work to consciously correct it;
  • Include stretching in your routine to target the specific muscles that are over-stressed.

In cases where there is a spinal deformity such as hyperhyphosis, scoliosis (abnormal curve of the spine), or where one leg is longer than the other, physical appliances can help to correct posture and imbalances.

Our Ottawa physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics are ready with advice and treatment options for posture issues and any other musculoskeletal conditions you are experiencing. Contact one of our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics for a consultation.





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