fbpx Can a Chiropractor Help with Posture? - Chiro One
Dr. Elliott of Chiro One performs an adjustment to help a patient improve her posture.

“Stand up straight.”

It’s a directive that has echoed down from mothers to children since the dawn of time (at least it feels like that, anyway.)

But on this one, your mother was right: posture matters.

Maybe not for the reasons mom told you (although we do look nicer when we stand up straight.) But it does matter quite a lot.

We are often asked whether chiropractic care can help with posture – and the answer is, yes. Chiropractic care can not only help you restore healthy spinal curvature, but also relieve the pain and stiffness caused by poor posture (like those mysterious tension headaches that just keep coming back.)

Here’s why your mom was right, posture matters, and the role chiropractic care can play in helping you relieve pain and stand a little taller.

The Posture-Pain Connection

Did you know that Postural Syndrome is a real (and painful) condition of the lumbar and cervical spine? It results from sustained poor posture. Symptoms include headaches, low back pain, pain in the hips and legs, and pain when sitting and standing for long periods. Postural syndrome can even lead to joint degeneration.

In fact, poor posture is a common cause of pain we see in our clinics every day. But why does poor posture cause pain? Let’s take a closer look.

While sudden, sharp, or large movements can lead to sudden injury, postural pain is typically a result of the many little movements that make up our day. See if any of these habits sound familiar to you (some may surprise you – did you know there’s a better way to vacuum?!)

  • Slouching or slumping when you sit (especially if you do so while driving or sitting at a desk all day)
  • Lying on your stomach when using your phone or laptop
  • Using a laptop or tablet while sitting unsupported – like on your bed
  • Hunching over while doing chores (dishes, we’re looking at you)
  • Leaning forward while vacuuming and/or extending your arm fully with each push and retraction (another pro tip: switch hands!)
  • Resting all your weight on one leg when standing

These habits can eventually add up. Poor posture can put added stress on your muscles, spinal joints, and discs and lead to stiffness in your joints, or poor mobility (particularly of the neck, upper back or hips.)

Muscle weakness and joint stiffness is also a cause of poor posture, which further weakens muscles, creating an ongoing cycle of pain.

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Posture

Tensions headaches, tension and pain in the neck, shoulders, and upper back are all symptoms of poor posture. Lower back pain and stiffness is also a sign of poor posture, especially if you sit or stand for long periods. Here is what poor posture looks like in your body:

So, what are the different types of postural issues and can a chiropractor help with posture?

When examining your posture, your Doctor of Chiropractic will look for these common types of postural problems:

Kyphosis. This is an excessive curvature of your upper back (thoracic spine.) It is often characterized by rounded shoulders (commonly known as hunchback or slouching posture.) In addition to poor postural habits, kyphosis can result from the natural deterioration that comes with aging. Osteoporosis, degeneration of the spinal discs or vertebrae can both lead to kyphosis.

Flatback. This occurs when your lower spine loses some of its natural curvature. It’s common for people with flatback to stoop forward. It can be inherited or a result of back surgery or degenerative spine disorders including inflammatory arthritis (ankylosing spondylitis), disc degeneration, and vertebral compression. Flatback creates added pressure on the low back muscles, which can be very painful. 

Swayback. This condition occurs when the hips and pelvis lean forward of the body’s midline. The result is that the lower back curves inward. People with swayback posture appear to be leaning back when standing. Swayback can be a result of extended sitting and a sedentary lifestyle. Lack of activity can damage your abdominal and gluteal muscles, making them weak and leaving the low back without proper support. Obesity, injuries, neuromuscular disorders, and anomalies of the spine and vertebrae can also cause swayback. 

Forward head carriage. More common than ever thanks to our endless hours of screen use, forward head carriage describes a posture where your ears are in front of your vertical midline. Forward head carriage can add as much as 45+ pounds of pressure on your spine, causing upper back pain, neck pain, and throbbing tension headaches. Because screen use is a major culprit, this condition has come to be known as tech neck or text neck. However, it can also be caused by aging, loss of upper body muscle strength, or long hours sitting or driving unsupported or with poor posture.

Graphic depicts the stages of forward head carriage and how each stage adds additional pounds of pressure to the spine, causing neck pain, back pain, and headaches.

Living with pain? Consult a doctor or chiropractor if your pain is intense or your notice:

  • Discomfort while sitting, using the computer, or watching TV‌
  • Difficulty driving because of muscle tightness or pain‌
  • Low back pain
  • Soreness around the shoulder blades‌
  • Tight or painful neck muscles

How Chiropractic Care Corrects Posture and Relieves Pain

Without addressing underlying issues that cause poor posture, postural pain is unlikely to resolve on its own. Chiropractic care can help with posture by correcting spinal imbalances that result from poor posture. Here’s how.

They’ll diagnose your pain. A reputable chiropractor will start with an assessment to learn the source of your pain – the daily habits that are affecting your posture, and where those postural misalignments and imbalances are happening in your body.

They’ll perform chiropractic adjustments. An adjustment is a quick, gentle motion that realigns the spine and joints.

They’ll relieve painful muscle tension. Correcting imbalances and misalignments can relieve pressure on the muscles and nerves.

They’ll help you develop postural awareness. Many people aren’t aware of what good posture should feel like. Your chiropractor can help you identify what proper posture looks and feels like for your body, and help you build postural awareness.

Chiro One goes one step further, mixing gentle adjustments with active therapies. Adjustment correct spinal misalignments and relieve pain, while active therapies help you improve your mobility and flexibility, increase balance and stability, and build muscle memory for long lasting results.

Tips from the Chiropractor: How to Prevent Postural Pain

Learn how good posture feels. Postural awareness means learning what good posture feels like, and how to maintain it when going about your day. This is another way your chiropractor can help with good posture. They’ll show what proper posture looks and feels like for your body, and help you build postural awareness.

Relieve tense muscles. Are you reading this post on your phone right now? How’s your posture? Take a moment to breathe deeply and pay attention to your shoulders. Are they tense? Up around your ears? Are you slouching or slumping? Gentle daily stretches can help you relieve tension from poor posture – and prevent it from worsening. Here is one of our favorite moves.

Embrace good ergonomics. Good ergonomics can make a big difference in the way you feel – and have a long term impact on your posture. Get our best ergonomic tips here.

Get some of our top tips on preventing Tech Neck here.

Mix posture with fitness. You can support good posture by adding core strengthening moves to your workout routine. Increasing your strength and mobility body-wide can help support (and improve) your posture.

Get tips for maximizing your core strength here.

Beyond pain relief: Surprising benefits of good posture

We’ve established that good posture makes you feel better physically. But there are other benefits to focus on – or improve – your posture.

  • Less stress on bones and joints.
  • Poor posture can increase stress on your bones and joints, accelerating normal wear and tear, and potentially leading to conditions like osteoarthritis. Joints in your neck, shoulders, low back and hips are especially vulnerable.
  • If your posture hasn’t been good, correcting it might feel uncomfortable for a few weeks, but stick with the effort.
  • Breathe more easily.
  • Rounded shoulders from slouching or slumping can make it difficult to breathe deeply. Proper posture gives you – literally – more room to breathe.  
  • Boost your mood and energy.

Did you know? Posture also affects your emotions and thoughts, and vice versa. Research has shown that good posture can actually make you feel better, boosting your mood and increasing your confidence.

Ready to improve your posture, relieve pain, and feel your best? Chiropractic care can help. Click the link below to find a Chiro One clinic near you.



Dr. Elliott Jordan

Chiro One River North, Chicago IL
Dr. Elliott’s mission can be summed up with his favorite Latin saying: "Fiat Lux" (Let there be light.) He strives to enlighten and learn from every person that walks into his practice. Dr. Elliott studied at National University of Health Sciences where he was a member of the Sigma Phi Kappa fraternity, the Student American Chiropractic Association, and the Motion Palpation Club.

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