How good posture helped me get rid of low back pain.

One of the best things I ever did for myself was to learn how to stand with good posture. Even though I was fit, had been teaching group exercise for years and was a personal trainer I suffered from chronic lower back pain. If I stood too long, there was the pain. If I ran on pavement, there was the pain. If I walked too far, there was the pain. I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling that dull ache in my lower back. I always blamed it on my mattress or just that I had been too strenuous with my workout the day before. Never once did I think it was coming from my incorrect posture.

Then one day I took a personal training education course where posture was addressed. It was then I learned that I stood with a fairly excessive curve in my lower spine. I had what is often called a “sway back”. Technically it’s referred to as Lordosis. Bascially my pelvic girdle was tilted forward all the time. This meant that my lower back muscles (Erector Spinae) were constantly in a shortened and contracted state – which meant that they fatigued easily and were chronically sore. This also (and more importantly) meant that my abdominal muscles (Transverse Abdominus, Rectus Abdominus and Obliques) were constantly in a lengthened state providing little to no stability for my hips and lower back.

The solution to my chronic lower back pain was two fold; I needed to strengthen my abdominal muscles as well as lengthen my lower back. In other words, I needed to stand in good posture. This meant that I needed to learn how to stand with a neutral spine by pulling my abdominals in so that my lower back would be allowed to lengthen. I could spend hours a week in the gym doing core exercises but if I continued to stand with my sway back all that work would be for nothing. I needed to learn to stand with good posture.

Sounds pretty simple….but it took a while for me to train myself. It was then and there that I began reminding myself – wherever I was – the grocery store, walking with a friend, sitting at the dinner table, working out, brushing my teeth…’pull your belly in, lengthen your lower back’. It took a while (maybe 4 or 5 months) before I would notice that I didn’t have to pull my belly in as much to find my neutral spine. It was great. My muscles were actually beginning to adapt to my new posture. It was as if they actually wanted to be that way – as if they understood that a neutral spine was a much better way of being.

I have now been without lower back pain for about 8 years. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still have to remind myself to find my neutral spin, I do – especially when I have to sit or stand for extended periods. But I am much more capable of keeping my spine in a neutral position and as a result I am in a lot less pain and am much stronger.