Does posture matter when it comes low back pain?
If you’re experiencing low back pain you’ve probably already come across a range of different opinions on what causes it and what should done to fix it. You may have heard (or Googled) causes of back pain being: a weak core, too much lifting and bending, old age, genetics, not enough motion in the spine or a lack of control. Posture is one that’s commonly in that list as well. So what’s the relationship between back pain and posture?
Well the evidence currently doesn’t show a link between particular postures and developing back pain. Despite what is commonly said, there’s no “good” or “bad” posture when it comes to developing back pain. So should we just not worry about posture at all when managing back pain? Can we cross that one off the list? Well not quite. Whilst there’s no evidence for posture causing back pain it can certainly affect your experience of pain.
Assessing the effect of posture on pain
Adopting certain postures can either increase or decrease back pain. Assessing the effect of different postures on the pain is an important part of the assessment process. The aim of this assessment is to find a position that reduces the pain intensity or localises the pain towards the centre of the back. For some people posture can influence pain significantly, but not for everyone. The key is assessing the effect that change in posture has on you and your pain. What eases your pain may not for someone else – we’re all different and our experience of pain is different.
Tips on how to self-assess the effect of posture on your pain
Why not try this process to see if posture is something you may need to address in recovering from your back pain:
- First sit down in a normal relaxed position and take note of your pain (where is it located and how intense)
- Now slump down into the chair and hold this position for a couple of minutes and see if your pain changes: does the pain spread out more across your back or down your leg or does it localise to a smaller spot at the centre of your back? What happens to the intensity?
- Sit up as tall as you can and monitor the effect here.
The best posture for you is the one that reduces the area of pain (brings the pain closer to the centre of your back or moves up your leg towards the back) and/or reduces the intensity. Note: this may be at the extremes of the movement or somewhere in between. Maybe changing posture didn’t effect your pain at all (which means that posture change is unlikely to be important for your recovery).
Getting a professional assessment and treatment plan
Our physiotherapists can assess the impact of posture on your back pain and also determine whether there are any other factors that might be contributing to your problem. Give our team a call today to arrange an treatment session with our experienced physio team.