For Good Posture, DO NOT PULL SHOULDERS BACK!!!
Good posture. It is one of life's Holy Grails it would seem. How many times have you been told you need to "Fix your posture - pull your shoulders back!"? I hear it said many times from parents and children, friends and relatives, even therapists tell people this...but nearly 99% of the time, this is the WRONG ADVICE!!!
So what exactly do you do?
The aims of this article is to:
1. Explain what good posture is
2. Explain why pulling your shoulders back is NOT the right thing to do (not good posture!)
3. Give you some ideas of what to do to have better posture
For a video on a postural myth, click here
What is good posture?
I think for most people, we can certainly see "good posture" better than we can describe it. Sometimes things don't "look right", other times it is subtle and still other times people might think it looks good and it isn't (from my point of view).
I can reference lots of definitions that would answer the question"what is good posture?" but I think the most practical definition is the one I go by...it is where your body is most efficient at doing what you ask it to do.
You see, posture isn't a static activity. Even the Buckingham Palace guards have to breathe so movement is occurring all the time. It isn't a tense posture but it isn't "loose" either. It shouldn't be hard work but it does take a little bit of effort (sometimes).
I think good posture is more a thinking activity...but thinking about it only every now and then. People with "good posture" have probably worked at it more than you - or have been shown how to work at it more efficiently than you have! I will show you later what I mean 🙂
Why pulling your shoulders back is NOT the right thing to do
So why do you get told to pull your shoulders back? Probably because your shoulders are forward... I am not being funny, it is true.
But I wouldn't be The Physio Detective if I didn't ask "why are your shoulders forward?". In fact, all good therapists worth their salt ask questions like "Why?" and "How?".
You see, your shoulders sit on a rib cage and your rib cage is more like a cylinder than a rectangle - it has curved surfaces. On top of this cylinder sits your shoulder blades - and they only sit on there because muscles hold them in place - there is no "true" joint surface like some other joints have. Therefore, your shoulders sit where the sum of the forces of gravity, your soft tissues (muscles and ligaments) and your bones put them.
An example of how this works is for you to hold a pen in between your fingers. Allow it to hang vertically. Now, you should be able to hold the pen still and move your hand and arm up and over the pen without it pointing away from the ground. You can only do this if you hold onto the pen with *just* the right amount of force. Too hard and your pen will tilt as you move your hand. Too soft and you will drop the pen. That is how posture and your shoulders are related!
Therefore, if you have shoulders that are forwards, it is simply reacting to the foundation on which it sits on - your rib cage must be tilted backwards or your muscles are pulling you forwards because you love "Chest Day" at the gym and you skip "Back Day" or whatever reason you have.
Simply pulling your shoulders back against the sum of these forces just adds more forces - which increases tension in your body. The 2 most common reasons I hear about why people "gave up" on their posture correction exercises are:
1. It's too much effort - pulling against forces is tiring - it is no wonder that it is an effort...
2. It hurts too much - adding tension to painful structures like muscles and joints can make them sore - why do it?
In this example, I have asked our willing volunteer Lauren to stand in a classic "sway back" posture and then pull her shoulders back. Please note that her spinal angle doesn't change and pulling your shoulders back can actually make your neck poke out more!
In this example, I have asked Lauren to pull her tummy in, bum in, chest out and shoulders back - I think you will agree that it doesn't look right!
Simply pulling your shoulders back is not likely to be the correct solution
The Lessons Learned About "Shoulders Back"?
1. Your shoulders sit passively on your rib cage - don't force them back or forwards
2. Your shoulders are mainly affected by your rib cage position - maybe look at how your rib cage is sitting
3. Adding more effort is not sustainable or usually effective
4. Simply pulling your shoulders back is not likely to be the correct solution - it doesn't give you good posture!
Some Steps Towards Better (Good) Posture...
Ok, there are LOTS that I do to get this right - explaining it on here would take a whole website's worth of blog posts to explain it all. However, let me hit the highlights...
1. Getting posture perfect is not achievable
It simply is impossible to have "perfect posture"...I can always find *something* that is not "ideal". I don't ever ask my patients to have perfect posture. My patients never ask me to get them back "perfect again" - if they do, I correct them 🙂
I prefer to take the view that posture is a sliding scale and that it is "about right" for the task. Yes there are things that can be better but ultimately, if you can achieve the task you want to with minimal strain to your body, then that's cool. Obviously bending over to pick up a pen off the floor has a LOT more variability and I am less fussy about how you do this than if you were to try to deadlift 150kg! The more load you have, the less room for error you have.
2. Test and Retest
This is one of the greatest learning tools I can give a patient. Nearly all of my patients want me to "check that I am doing it right"...with posture, I ask them to tell me if they have it right. I can't be there to hold your hand all the time so I try to take the time to teach you how to check for yourself. Here's how you do it...
1. Choose a movement or activity that "hurts" or you have stiffness with or decreased movement. e.g. turning your head. You can even choose a resisted exercise like lifting 2kg or having a partner push on you
2. Note the effort it takes to do the movement - is your neck sore? Can you turn as far? How much effort is it to lift 2kg?
3. Correct your posture to what you think is "good posture"
4. Retest steps 1 and 2 - is it easier or less painful? If it is, you are closer to a good posture for that task. If it isn't, then either you haven't got it right or it isn't right for you.
When I am with my patients, I make sure we find what these tasks are so they can test and restest at home and work.
3. Your Performance Will Improve
This is similar to the point above. Some people don't have pain, they just can't progress in their exercises or they can't go longer at something - sometimes your posture can affect this!
Some quick examples of how changing someone's posture has helped
1. Hockey player who was dropped from taking "short corners" because she couldn't push the ball out hard and fast enough for the play - I changed how she set up for the shot. The end result? A stronger push out!
2. Elite level Rugby player constantly getting injured. Had been doing "core" work since schoolboy rugby. Changing how he set himself to do his exercises, weights and even tackling opened his eyes to the power of good posture. He was an open-side flanker (whose main job is to tackle and then get the ball). I told him to set for a tackle and then I pushed him over with one hand. He was horrified. I showed him how to set for a tackle differently and I couldn't budge him - I had at least 30kg and 6 inches in height on this guy!!
3. Lots of patients who have pain turning their head to check for traffic. I check their sitting posture. One minute they can barely turn 30 degrees. Change their posture, they can turn nearly 90 degrees. Obviously for them, they know they are in the right posture when they can turn their head properly!
4. Friends who have trouble lifting a weight, especially something like a deadlift. Setting the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders and neck into more efficient positions allow the body to generate more force.
Basically, the more efficient the posture, the more efficient the performance!
4. Some Cues I Ask My Patients To Think About
Here are some trade secrets for you 🙂
1. The breast bone and the pubic bone (in general) should line up vertically one on top of the other
2. Your pelvis should be in neutral - neither tilted in or out
3. Your back and neck should have a gentle lordosis and your thoracic spine (between your shoulder blades) should have a gentle kyphosis (rounded). This is normal. A flat back between your shoulder blades is NOT normal
4. I ask my patients to over-exaggerate the posture they need to be in - really work hard at it...then imagine that they are a puppet pulled into the air as the "grow taller". Once they are there, gently relax so they keep their alignment but decrease the tension in their body. This works really well 🙂
5. Changing posture will feel "wrong" - this is because your body has receptors in it that tell the brain where you are in 3D. Your brain doesn't like listening to all the signals it gets so it has a mechanism to "turn down the volume" of some of the signals it gets. This includes where you are in 3D. So any change turns the volume up and keeps letting you know that you are "not at your usual spot". most people move to "turn the volume down" (feel back to their usual normal) but then nothing changes. Only through consistent repetition will your brain learn what the new "normal" should be. That is why posture is a thinking exercise that should be done every now and then to train the brain where you should be!
A Video Example...
I can go on and on about posture and other topics but this article is nearly 2000 words now!
The take home message is simply
Don't pull the shoulders back - put your rib cage in such a way that your shoulder sit properly
Putting your rib cage in the right position requires lots of things to be checked - joints, muscles, nerves, coordination, bone shape (yes, crooked bones can cause bad posture!). Sometimes the problem is very close to the shoulders, sometimes it is from the feet. Basically it can be because of any joint in the body - I like to check posture from the feet up or the head down - there is no point being "holistic" if you don't practice what you preach!
Any advice to someone who sits in an office chair 40 + hours per week? I get a lot of physical activity (work out 7 days a week for at least an hour). I find that I feel achy by Friday after sitting in this chair. I am constantly trying to improve my posture while sitting and find my posture keeps returning to the same hunched over position. By the way I found your article to be highly informative and would welcome another 2000 words. Thanks for the infomation!
Thanks Michelle. I believe research has shown that you will be healthier if you move for even 1min (?) every 30mins. That has apparently more health benefit than 390-60mins of exercise in one hit every day.
Regularly move and try to adopt the postures in the blog post without excessive muscle tension 🙂
Try those things and let me know how you go. Otherwise try to find someone who understands to ESP…sad,y, I haven’t met many who offer similar advice to me which is why I was prompted to write the blog post! All the standard stuff they write about is technically correct but hard to implement…sitting should be comfortable for 30mins…then get up and do 5 squats or something and go for a short walk 🙂
Then why all these qualified practicioners and doctors do insist that someone should pull shoulders back? They even tape tha shoulders to remain pulled back! I m a little comfused here… Thanks
I don’t know why they do that. 🙁
Obviously when you slouch, your shoulders will round but pulling then back doesn’t solve anything.
It is better to solve the real problem/s that cause the shoulders to round forwards. Very occasionally, I will get someone who genuinely needs to pull their shoulders back a bit. Otherwise, it is rarely used as a cue.
So when you go to a physical therapist, how do you know if you’re truly one of the people who genuinely needs to pull their shoulders back a bit or if you just need to change your posture? My shoulders are rounded (especially the right one), and I just started seeing a PT a couple weeks ago for some numbness near my right shoulder blade. We’re working on mainly exercises to stretch out the muscles in my chest, strengthen the muscles in my back and pull the shoulders back as well as a stretch for the median/ulnar nerve; and this week she did tape my shoulders so I remember to keep them back. I’ve always tried to maintain a “good posture” (emphasis on the tried and the quotes around good posture) despite many hours sitting at a desk, but I still get tired from so many hours of sitting despite frequently changing positions (sometimes using the backrest, sometimes not, changing chair height, etc.) and trying to set timers when I can to make sure I get up and walk around.
This week at the PT, I asked her to check my sitting posture to see if it is good for typing, and she just said to make sure that I don’t arch my back too much. (Not her exact words, but she was basically saying the lumbar was curved too much.) I’m thinking the slightly exaggerated lumbar position was a result of my trying to “sit up straight.” I tucked under a little, and she said that was good; but, basically, it’s hard for me to tell where the right midpoint is between too curved and too flat and figure out where my upper back/shoulder area should be in relation to all of this where I’m sitting.
I wish we’d work on that more because I don’t want poor posture to cause more problems later, but it’s hard to train my body to know what feels right; but I suppose I’m doing okay if she isn’t correcting my posture during the exercises, especially since I keep checking in. Oh, well, I’ll figure it out eventually and maybe go to a personal trainer for some feedback when I can afford it after everything is balanced out.
Hi Meredith. It is best to base the success or failure of advice on results.
You can use manual muscle testing, range of motion, pain or a task to determine if the advice is good for you. All my advice in person is accompanied by testing that shows whether it is working or not.
You can’t base it on effort because it takes effort to make a positive change!
Maybe I will write a blog post on how to sit correctly.
roll up a towel and put it on the back rest of the chair in between your shoudler blades
And how will this improve your posture? Can you post some photos to show us how it works?
THANK YOU ! simple and super effective.
i had bad posture when i was in high school but still worked out 6 days a week 1hr to 1hr and a half every day, but still bad posture..because of sitting so much then i got a job at a supercenter which involves a lot of walking or standing all day, then my posture greatly improve (still working out 6 days a week) now i have no posture problems, also this article isn’t correct, i pull my shoulders back, make sure i have thoracic extension, tuck my butt in, and pull my neck back every day to reinforce the idea to my body., i have no problems. Make sure to do squats, push ups, thoracic extension exercises, and strengthen the rhomboids.
Great. That’s good for you.
Sometimes, what you think you are doing and what is actually happening is not the case.
I advocate *testing* your posture and positions. Choose the most efficient ones.
Pulling your shoulders back too far will be inefficient. Tucking your butt in too much will be inefficient. Too much thoracic extension will be inefficient. Pulling your neck back too much will be inefficient.
If you understand the idea that your brain has a “set point”, then you will understand that one day, with enough practice, you may “overcook” your corrections and begin to go from a “poor, flexed” posture to a “poor, extended” posture.
But really, in the end, just keep moving and getting stronger.
Who knows, maybe because you do squats, push ups, and other exercises is the reason why you feel better…despite all the other things you do. The result and the story we tell ourselves why we got the result can be 2 different things.
The point of this blog post was that pulling your shoulders back without changing anything else results in a goofy looking posture 🙂
Have a good one mate. Thanks for the comment and taking the time to read the post and comment on it. I truly hope things do stay good for you.
This is an old q so I doubt you will see this but for anyone else happening along:
If you don’t mind looking a bit goofy, sitting on a large exercise ball instead of an office chair can help a lot.
If that is too much for you, consider purchasing an ergonomic footstool. It allows you to raise your chair (and body) up to a more suitable height for your workspace and alleviates some back strain.
Also there are new deskas and/or attachments you can purchase to add to your desk that allow you to stand while working. They raise your workspace to an adjustable height.
We should pull back the shoulders and then relax them. Good balance. By relaxing them it centers shoulders over pelvis. Right ?
Hmm. I would say pull them back and then roll them forwards then find about halfway and then relax.
Or just relax.
Centering things over the pelvis does make things right or wrong. It is just one of many postures. People get pain regardless of their posture and most postural correction works simply because you are doing something different.
What are some effective but targeted muscles for someone who A) has really bad fibromylagia and need to do low reps and b) has left shoulder inflamation of the AC joint and click click all the time, especially if I extend back or sleep on that side and c)has rolled forward shoulders from atrophy. I have strong pecs I am told so I need just a couple to help strengthen those back posture muscles with inflaming the left shoulder.
Hi GC – it is difficult to say for sure what needs to happen for you and it would be unethical of me to suggest I could do that effectively without a consultation. All of these considerations you listed above can be worked with though to achieve your goals…one thought I will leave you with though…maybe the reasons why you have what you have aren’t for the reasons that you think or were told by others…
Any tips for someone who has scoliosis in the upper back, rolled shoulders, and a forward tilted head? I am very very anal about my bad posture and I want to fix it soo soo bad! I go in to meetings all the time and I feel super conscious about my tilted head especially. I would really really like to fix it! I have recently tried wearing a back brace and that appears to help while I am sitting but I want it all to get better.
It is a difficult question. Ultimately, you want to know if the bones are making your posture that way or the muscles. If it is the bones, you have a very hard job ahead of you. If muscles, see a Physio who knows how to rebalance them and strengthen the right ones.
What is a physio?
Why do you keep trying to link to a product for?
I have an elderly father who is getting stronger after a long stay in the hospital. But I am noticing he is really rolling his shoulders forward and starting to stoop more? Is there anything I can do to help him get stronger and stand tall. I thought a brace would help him to remember to think about his posture. thanks,
Hi. It is a difficult situation. I don’t know know much about your dad and what he is recovering from.
However, most people who have just gotten out of hospital sit around a lot. You can brace hon all you like but noting beats movement and activity.
If you want something to change, you have to make it happen. This requires determination and consistent action.
Keep encouraging him to move and get stronger. Get a Physio to come to the house and make him an exercise program.
Something has to happen. If he sits all day, his posture will suffer significantly.
Thanks for the question
Thanks for the article. Can u post link
To video showing proper adjustment of
rib cage to correct pisture?
Hi Pete. It is not easy to do because different people need different cues and corrections and that can come from a y joint / region in the body. I have some posture videos but not enough. Am working on it 🙂
Hi, thanks for sharing a very good article. I am 21 years old and i have a really bad posture, straight neck, flat back between shoulders and a reduced lumbar curve. And i was suggested the same thing pull your shoulders back which had adverse effects on my thoracic curve. I would request you to please suggest some exercises that don’t screw up my posture anymore but actually improve it. Thanks!!!
Hi rishi. It is difficult to tell you what to do because I don’t know you nor can I see how you respond. So best to find someone who can learn what to do and teach you. Cheers
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Is it safe to use a posture corrector? please give me advice. I am planning to buy one. Thanks in advance.
Hi Claire Ann. I am not sure what type of posture corrector you wish to buy, Have you read the blog post above? I do not usually recommend a posture corrector but rather learning how to get into an efficient posture and learn how to get stronger in that position. Thanks!
Sorry if I seem stupid but I almost feel like I should pick up my shoulders and let my neck sort of sink into them because I used to basically just drop them and push them back. Should I still drop them but not pull them back because then I feel like my neck is longer and my head is more forward.
It is hard to say for you Stephen. Take a photo of your normal posture then take a photo of your corrected posture. Which looks better?
Would you consider sending them to me?
Should you pick up your shoulders to make your neck shorter and less stretched/forward or just let them fall and not hold them in place
Different people need different things. You should get into a good position then use the least amount of effort to maintain that position. You may need extra stretches or training 🙂
I see what you mean. I think its a better position for me to lift my shoulders a bit because I feel less strain on my neck and it is not that far forward. I have taken picture. It looks much more natural so I just need to get comfortable then I guess.
Thanks for this post. I always assumed that shoulders being “back and down” was the begin all end all solution but I never had good posture with that idea. It made my neck look longer and it was too far forward plus I never felt comfortable with it anyway
No problem. Posture is very hard to get right and the info on the Internet looks the same but doesn’t explain the nuances.
Good luck 🙂
My toddler 20 months old walks with his shoulders back and chest out, he don’t look like nothing I’ve googled “bird chest” no hump back… He looks “normal” but “to much posture” . Hope you understand what I mean, I have forever googled and found nothing. :/
In my experience Jill, it is difficult to tell about children at that age. If you are really concerned, ask a pediatrician to check him.
Does everyone who ever meets him mention it? If not, it is probably nothing. If he walks around like other children and plays and gets on ok, he is likely to be ok.
When in doubt, ask a doctor or physiotherapist to see him.
I have had back pain for about 5 years now. Since the age of 18.
It was mostly upper back pain and soreness/stiffness between the shoulder blades. My neck also gets quite tense and stiff. For about 3 years now I have been cracking my neck over 10x a day, which relieves the tension for a while. Now I have started to get stiffness in the middle of my back just above the waist on my back.
Can you advise me of why this has all happened and what I can do to help it?
Thanks a lot xx
Hi – I am sure you can appreciate that I won’t be able to give you specific advice about your problem – I simply don’t have enough information, I can’t examine you and therefore I can’t advise you.
I can tell you that it is a common group of symptoms that you are reporting.
I would recommend that you see a good physiotherapist and ask them to teach you the motor control exercises needed to prevent joint shearing and start strengthening under their guidance. The back is probably a similar thing.
Bottom line: Go see someone about it. If you want to, you can tell me what they said and ask questions about that… in the end, there are so many things that could be causing the issue that it wouldn’t be wise for me to guess.
Thanks for asking though 🙂
I’m getting alot of neck pain,I was told my shoulders come forward by physiotherapist &massage therapist.When I was younger my mother always told me to put my shoulders back,could this be the cause of neck pain
The only way to tell if your shoulders coming forwards or back is causing your neck pain is to test it.
Does your neck pain improve when you put your shoulders back and up like I describe?
I am 70 and have developed various inherited lower back problems including sciatica. I
want to continue to be active. I believe that working on my posture might help…other suggestions??
Hi Nancy. There are many reasons why you might have sciatica. You really need to explore those reasons for why YOU have sciatica with a physical therapist (physiotherapist).
For example, you may have a narrowing of the passage of the spinal cord or where the nerves come out. You may have a disc that is leaking onto a nerve that is unhappy. You may have some arthritis or a bone spur that is scraping on a nerve root.
I look to see why the sciatica has developed, what to release, what posture to put you onto, what cues might be helpful to keep you in a good posture and how to move.
I know it isn’t very specific for you but those ideas are a good basis to ask questions of those people who can help you 🙂
Hi, I was born with congenital hip dysplacia in my left hip. I had surgery on it when I was a year old. Now, I’m in my mid 20s. That leg is just slightly shorter, but I have less range of motion in that hip so I’m rotated forward slightly on that side. It’s not noticeable unless a doctor/PT looks for it. However, i’m getting a lot of shoulder pain on that side with major headaches. I’ve unfortunately been trying to “pull my shoulders back” since they’re rounded inwards, but it seems to make my shoulder hurt more when I do. Any suggestions? Thank you!
have you tried myofascial release treatments? they focus on the entire body as a ‘system of connected webs’ and certainly spend time ensuring areas like the pelvis are returned to a more balanced state. Certainly a good place to start.
Thanks Pete. In the end, you need to solve/discover what is articular, what is myofascial and what is related to the brain. Are there any internal organ problems, are there any issues or beliefs that are contributing and is it simply a technique issue.
I still maintain that a good PT should be able to sort through all of that.
If there is a joint problem causing myofascial restriction, then it would be a long hard and expensive road to try rebalance those muscles – it wouldn’t work until the joint situation was fixed.
Once all those areas above have been addressed, then certainly a good body worker with a holistic view would be handy 🙂
Thanks again for your suggestion – it is certainly going to be better than what Lindsay’s current situation is.
Hi Lindsey. Sorry for the late reply. Posture is a dynamic thing and you will need to find someone who understands what is wrong and how to solve it.
If the leg differences are that small, it probably isn’t that that is the problem…although I would check with some small pieces of wood under your foot before committing to that decision.
Can you send me video or photos of your posture? I am happy to review them if you are happy for them to be public.
Thank you for your replies, they’re greatly appreciated!
I actually have just started some neuromuscular therapy which includes trigger point release. I am currently at Dynamic Therapy and they include it in my treatment once a week. They’re also working on building up my back strength. They started with the low back, and I’ll be looking to add my upper back/neck onto my prescription when I go in tomorrow since I’m now getting daily stiff aches in my upper traps/levator scapulae region. I have asked about a small heel lift, and they said they have thought about that but are waiting to see what happens at the end of treatment since it can have adverse affects on the spine, as well.
I would be happy to post some pictures of my posture, please just let me know where to post them. Thank you for your time!
Hi Lindsay. You can post them on my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/PhysioDetective.
I WANT TO SAY THAT I HAVE JOINED EXERCISE GYM RECENTLY AND I HAVE NOTICED THAT MY SHOULDERS ARE COMING FORWARD
MY COACH TOLD ME THE SOLUTION THAT ‘DO BACK CHILLING ROD EXERCISE, AND BACK SHOULDERS EXERCISE A LITTLE MORE’
I WANT TO ASK U THAT IS THIS EXERCISE HELPFUL FOR ME OR NOT ?
AND MAKING MY POSTURE STRAIGHT AS SHOWN BY YOU IN THIRD PICTURE WILL HELP ME OR NOT?
AND THANX FOR THE POST
Hi – NONE of the pictures are good to copy except Pippa Middleton’s
I can’t tell you what is good for you or not because I don’t know you nor is it moral, responsible or ethical for me to tell you. Please see someone about your posture. Thanks – I am sorry I can’t be more helpful on your specific problem :/
Hi I have been trying to work on my posture, I typically slouch. Now that I have been correcting my posture my lower back feels very sore. Is that normal? And is there any way to alleviate the soreness?
Hi Kay – the solution is not to make such massive corrections. You are likely leaning back or compressing your back too hard. it is hard to find someone who knows how to correct the posture in a relaxed way…don’t try so hard…or maybe get into a good position and then just relax without losing that position… I hope that helps 🙂
I have a terrible bad posture that I have been fighting all my life. I have gone to different physios but never have been able to help me. They keep giving me a set of exercises that I don’t feel they make a difference in the long run. Furthermore, they have always told me to bring my shoulders back and to use some posture correctors, that again they didn’t do any difference in my posture.
I love your article and I am very interested in learning more how to know which the best way to position my rib cage. Could you explain that part a little more?
Thanks so much for your posting. I came across it while searching for info that might help understanding why my 11-yr old daughter’s right shoulder drops and curves inward when performing the breaststroke. She is a competitive swimmer and dances ballet. Her shoulders don’t square during movement. I’ve also noticed it dropping in fotos out of the pool. She did RPG two years ago for this but not much help. She has slight scoliosis at the top near her neck hut nothing the orthopedist is worried about. She had also been using corrective inserts in her sneaker for six years now to adjust her foot orientation. Could this problem be structural or wholly postural. Thanks for any advice you might offer such as what would be the best type of therapist to look for. Thanks again. Frank
Thanks frank. That is a tough question. I can’t really answer it except to say that she needs a good holistic assessment.
Let me know where you are from and I can see if I can. Locate someone who is trained in a similar way to me.
Ive been working at desk for years, maintaining a half decent posture can be a real challenge. Constantly find myself hunched, elbow on desk staring at my monitor. Considering a standing desk at this point…
This article is absolutely useless – it offers no solutions.
In what way does this article not offer solutions? I give an explanation of what some common problems are, some examples of cases and some things to try…sounds like possible solutions to me…
If you would like a personal solution, please feel free to book an appointment…I do Skype consultations.
i have a 16 year old son with poor posture, rounded shoulders. it hasn’t been a problem until recently. he is a baseball player, and mainly a pitcher, he is suffering from a shoulder impingment, which i know rounded shoulders isn’t helping. my question is, will crossfit training help strengthen, and correct his problem, or maybe yoga. he is a very talented pitcher and wants to get back to the position on the field that he was born to play.
Hi dee. He needs to see someone who understands how to help throwers. Basically the correct program should help. Posture is like anything else a you become good at what you practice. I know I can help but I don’t know where you are or if the people where you are can help.
Let me know if you can’t find someone. Get someone who understands baseballers…I have helped throwers/pitchers who can pitch at 93mph so they aren’t slouches…
I would recommend looking up Eric Cressey Performance in stamford ct
he specializes in overhead athlete performance especially baseball performance
he has tons of free videos and instructional vids. i would also recommend his Overhead Performance DVD set. It covers the full spectrum on the shoulders and progressions to improve performance by addressing weak points. Again tvis coming from working with baseball players.
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Nice video and post
Today I received my CrossOver Symmetry HIIT kit and can’t wait to
get started on their shoulder/scapular
Hello, while researching for a good posture device i came across this website, thanks for the info very interesting. i have an ergonomic chair, but very often i find myself seating on it wrong, as we know these chairs are good but they can’t perform miracles, still one had to have good posture… i catch myself crossing one leg, sometimes even both, i lift my feet slightly off the ground too which makes me slowly to be in a bad posture..
Does anyone know of a a good and comfortable device to wear while working? my MRI shows a bulging disc and also a protrusion on another on the cervical area which i believe that good posture while spending 8 hrs in a chair must be essential for this therapy to work. thank you in advanced for any feedback!
Honestly, the best posture you can have is the next posture. Even if I placed you in the absolutely perfect posture, you would not be able to or expected to maintain that posture – it is simply an unattainable goal. Even if you had the pain tolerance and mental discipline to remain like that, it wouldn’t be good for you.
“Perfect Posture” is a lie sold to those seeking the “ideal”. There are certainly principles to try and adhere to but honestly, don’t get caught up on the positions and the devices etc.
“Check-in” with yourself every now and then and move every 20-30mins – just getting up for a walk or 10 squats is good to break up the day.
As for your disc, I can’t really comment specifically about it because I don’t know you. I can tell you that there are people out there with terrible posture and no neck pain and there are people out there who are fit and healthy with “good posture” with discs bulging causing symptoms. It may be that the disc has nothing to do with your posture or symptoms…or it might…I know that isn’t helpful but I am trying to say that it may not be that bad…
I am looking for a posture device that had sensors that activated every time one slouched. it
cost just under $100.
Hi. I need help. I went to physical therapy and am still doing my weak upper back exercise. My upper back is super weak and my chest goes down in front. As a result my shoulders are rotted forward. Very painful. I have been doing upper back strengthening exercises for over 2 months. I just started on the blue band.
My question is: how can I lift up my chest manually and try to improve my posture while the upper back is getting stronger.
I can’t specifically comment on your case but I can talk in general.
Often the upper back rounds because of something else – something abdominal, muscular tightness in the chest or shoulders, even gastric conditions and post-operative conditions can cause you to flex forwards.
Upper back strengthening assumes you are weak in your upper back muscles…but if your upper is flexing, you could just be pulling against the restriction and never solving the problem.
Ask your physical therapist if something else is forcing your to lean forwards. Sometimes the solution is to strengthen but other times it is stretching or changing coordination. Sometimes you are born with a kyphosis.
In the end, you need to solve the reason why your posture is the way that it is.
Thank you for your quick reply. I was given the upper back exercises by my physical therapist. I have been doing the exercises for 2 months already. It is supposed to eventually pull my rotated shoulders back into position and help me stand up straighter as my upper back muscle gets stronger. (I am now using the blue theraband. I started with the red then moved to the green theraband.)
When I read your article I thought that if I can lift up my rib cage that it could help the process along. When I tighten my abs and lift up my rib cage, I notice that my shoulders move back a little; and I can more easily feel my upper back muscle move when I do my exercise in this position.
I only just discovered my ability to lift my rib cage using my tightened abs. I am hoping that this will help me. What do you think?
(I have only had this upper back problem for less than a year because when it first started, I had a lot of pain. The physical therapist mobilized it and had me do the strengthening exercises. He said it takes time. I sat in front of the computer hunched over previously before I got the upper back pain. In addition, I had costochondritis and I sat with ice applied to my chest hunched over. I had this condition for a few months before the back pain started. I guess that contributed to my upper back weakness.
Hi Kim. Contracting your abs and lifting your rib cage up don’t go together in a classical sort of way. Your abs tend to pull your rib cage down, not up.
Again, not specifically about you, but if someone has kyphosis, I want to know if it is structural or postural, if there are tight/shortened abdominals to lengthen or loosen, if there are any other issues that need addressing.
The costochondritis is good info. May have contributed some extra strain which led to pain.
It is tough to help via a blog. You really have to find someone who can explain things clearly to you and why you have to do certain exercises. 2 months is enough time if you are diligent you should see results by now. Has it improved at all?
very interesting article. thanks for the videos. Can you provide an instructional video on how my rib cage ought to guide me to a better posture?
briefly about me: slight kyphosis-type/rounding to upper back but plenty of muscle so certainly not weak.
i also have flat feet and until I read your article I gave it very little afterthought. i’m constantly focusing on scapular retraction, and trying to keep my thoracic spine mobile but perhaps I’m
overlooking a key problem.
lastly I recently picked up a crossover symmetry hiit kit to adress left shoulder (impingement type discomfort). it’s exposed some immobility in certain ‘upward’ motions of my mid back but is starting to feel slightly better. and prior to obtaining this system I never trained both sides…so that’s my final advice to anyone reading: train both sides to address/avoid imbalances and treat as a system not a component.
I have just spent six weeks at physio for a very painful shoulder. I have been told that I have a posture problem , a neck problem and this is contributing to the shoulder pain. The shoulder is also degenerative?? I was told that I had to strengthen all the muscles round the rotator cuff and that it could take years to correct, however when I explained that the exercises were giving me pain the first physio got stroppy and suggested a second opinion. The second physio seemed to take a lot more time and discovered the neck problem and I felt better served by her but again when I said that the exercises were leaving me painful she suggested referring me to orthopaedics. While I wait I have to continue the exercises. I also go to a one hour workout twice a week. This is part of fitness after having cardio stents put in so I need to go to this workout but I find that I am putting it off due to shoulder pain.
So my question is how do we find someone who believes like you (not pulling shoulders back) when the whole basis of NHS treatment seems to be based on this ?
Thanks for the question Frank. Sorry to hear of your troubles.
Firstly, you should check again (ask) about pain during exercise. I don’t like shoulder pain patients doing exercises in pain because the body doesn’t learn new patterns when in pain and the shoulder sounds like it desperately needs new patterns.
Ask them to do their muscle strength tests and find a position where it gets better. Shoulders back usually makes things worse. Show them that.
Show then this article/blogpost – get ten to read it during your appointment time while you do their exercises. Print it out for them.
NHS is hard – you get what you get. It is a lottery 🙁
Hi Antony…thank you for your article.
I am an overweight 50 year old female, in the process of losing weight ( 1 stone in 8 weeks so steady away) my problem is I don’t have any back pain but I can feel myself “falling forward” and shoulders feel more rounded. I was thinking about buying a back brace to pull myself upright but I saw that you don’t reccomend them usually.
Do you think one would work for me?
Hi sharron. Thanks for the posting your question.
Basically a back brace will only hold you up so far. Initially you will appreciate the fact that it feels so awkward and reminds you to correct your posture but you will then get used to the brace and it won’t be useful anymore.
If you have large breasts pulling your forwards, a brace won’t really help – a supportive bra would be better.
Developing your posture, strength and endurance is always a good thing to do.
My thoracic area is too flat. How do I get the curve back?
Hi Marie. You have to learn how to generate the kyphosis safely. Is there a PT you can ask?
hello ☺️ I was wondering if you have any “ideal” sleeping postures in mind? Thanks to the 21st century, the hectic life we lead often forces us to catch up on some sleep while in the car/on the bus. Under these circumstances, how do you think we should sit/lie in such a way that we won’t damage our body alignment that much? I acknowledge that the bed is still one of the better places but sometimes we just cannot help sleeping everywhere else… thank you so much!! 🙂
It is a good question.
My basic answer is “if you wake up feeling good, then it is ok”.
Many factors go into my recommendations but basically it is to try avoid provoking pain. If you don’t have pain, then no problem. If it hurts or is uncountable and you are not drunk or stoned, then the brain will move your body…
…about alignment, in general, consider your next posture to be your best posture…constantly change.
I had a car accident in 1995 that left me in a wheelchair. Have been so busy with basic life that my posture has suffered, exacerbated by scoliosis. I tend left, and am constanty straightening up. I have retrained my brain to recognize when I’m not straight, so am constantly trying to get straight, but everytime anyone sees me, I get “sit up straight” so i guess I’m not. Advice would be welcome
Hi karyn. I hope you can appreciate that i can’t give you specific advice. Have you sought help and strategies from a physiotherapist/physical therapist?
One of my new year’s resolution is to work on my posture since I’ve developed broad shoulders as a result. I purchased a back support memory foam for my office chair and have been using it for a couple of months now. How effective are these support cushions and is there a particular kind you might recommend?
I’m sorry, why have you developed broad shoulders – as a result of what?
Back support cushions are for comfort.
The best posture is your next posture – change is good. I have used the cheapest towels and cushions to the expensive memory foam and everything in between. Bottom line is that there is no one perfect posture but better positions that you have to keep moving to throughout the day.
I don’t mean to cause any offence to you blog, in fact it was very informative and I’m probably making only myself look bad here, but what exactly is it that we must do in order to improve posture.
As far as I understood from your blog we should simply tilt our rib cage?
Im really in need of posture improvement and would appreciate if you could maybe suggest 1 or 2 excursuses to improve posture for good.
Great blog once again.
I’m not offended.
Part of what I am trying to teach is that the angle of your rib cage/thorax is critical and just pulling your shoulders back won’t change your rib cage position.
There are many contributing factors to good posture.
Why do you believe you are “really in need of posture improvement”?
As for improving your posture for good…that will never happen. It isn’t like you fix it and then that’s the end of it. You have to address all the components that have led to your current posture, work on those restrictions and lack of control and then keep training them to stay there.
Therefore, I don’t give “exercises” for posture because it is simply a way of life. Every now and then, check in on how you are in your posture. When you do something, check what your posture is like.
It isn’t a sexy solution or what sells lots of books but it is the truth.
1. Get into position (Sternum over Pubic Bone in most people) with the least amount of tension and effort required to maintain it
2. Address restrictions and control excessive movement
3. Train and retrain until you get it right for as many different positions as you can
Hi again antony,
Thanks for the quick response. I have reason to believe that my poor posture is contributing to the nerve pain i experience whilst serving in tennis. I feel many knots on my right shoulder blade, my rotator cuff is very inflexible and i have resonating pain in the bicep and upper forearm muscles.
I have been advised that this pain originated from bad posture.
Ive had this pain in my arm for years and since i havent yet done anything about my posture Im naturally thinking that posture is a large part of the problem.
Ive had temporary healing (about 3 months or so) and, after a while of playing and no treatment, i start to feel sore again. Maybe because i play so much i do in fact require frequent visits to the physio but i just feel as though there is something i could do to once and for all eradicate this pain.
Thanks for any suggestions, and i can obviously appreciate you cant give me personal advise since you havent seen me.
To explain my situation briefly, i am a serios tennis player (6-7 days a week) and i have for many years now experienced a debilitating pain in my forearm and bicep that resonates from the interior elbow joint nerve. I feel many knots on my shoulder blade muscles and my rotator cuff muscles are very inflexible. My nerves are short because i frequently do nerve flossing and i have limited range of movement.
I was advised that posture may be the reason or at least a major contributing factor in my recurrent arm pain.
I did experience a 3 month period where i played with no pain at all after some intense treatment.
But it came back. Maybe, because i play so much, i do indeed require frequent visits to the physio but i just feel as though there is something i could do once and for all to sort this problem out.
I appreciate the fact that you cant give me personal advise because you have never seen me but have you got any suggestions for me? Does this sound like something you commonly encounter in sport players.
Great article and great blog. I’m getting a lot out of it. I have a couple of female PT clients that are very over weight, carrying much of their weight around their hips (think of very plump pears). Both clients have similar issues, which I suspect are linked to carrying excess weight in the hip region for a very long period. Starting from the bottom up, both clients tend to stand with their feet pointing out (like Peter Pan) and struggle to place and hold their feet squarely when in a split squat stance. They both have poor gluteal control (indicated by the knees rolling in on a parallel BW squat). Naturally both will excessively point their toes out in a parallel squat despite corrections (feels weird to the other extent when “it hurts” although the pain can’t be described by the client – I suspect it is uncomfortable, not pain and the client doesn’t understand the difference between the two feelings). Both have poor strength and body awareness as a whole. Shoulders often roll forward, but I suspect that is habitual, poor awareness and a lack of confidence more than lack of strength. Like your article mentions, I really believe they just don’t think about their posture at all during the day therefore it is constantly less than ideal.
My question is, where do I start to begin to improve their posture? I’m hesitant to have either client continue to complete any type of squat if they can’t start the movement with the most ideal posture to begin with. Your theories would be most welcome
Hi Susie – I thought I had replied to this – If I have, I apologise for replying again!
1. Ideally, they should be seen by a physiotherapist for a full body assessment to identify the primary contributing factors.
2. Moving safely is hard to describe on the internet. I don’t mind people in less-than-ideal positions…just make sure they are safe. If they report “pain”, then go with that…as they get better, it won’t be painful.
3. Where do you start? It is the same as eating an elephant…one bite at a time. Just pick on one thing and work on it…the trick is to pick the one thing that makes lots of other things better.
Thanks for the question 🙂
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This is utter nonsense. There’s many different reasons you can have a collapse of the chest where your shoulders slump and round. As an athlete myself i see far to many times where people have overly developed chests, front deltoids and over developed abs. Meanwhile their back is almost in a state of atrophy. Having a balanced body IS the key to having good posture. Nothing more nothing less.
However, telling someone to pull their shoulders back is not normal and shouldn’t be so active to hold a passive position.
But it is up to you. It is not utter nonsense. Let’s put it to the test. Do what the article says, show me on video and let’s discuss it.
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I’ve always been complimented on my posture, always asked if I was in the army. I was always proud of my military posture, shoulders back, head high. Well……for years I’ve been having neck and shoulder tightness and never-ending sinus pressure and headaches, crazy sinus headaches. YEARS!! I work out regularly and dont smoke so I could never figure out what my sinus issue was. After many Dr. visits, nasal sprays, pills, saunas, steam rooms, heavy leg workouts, light leg workouts, tears, I’m at the end of my rope. A buddy at the gym asked if I do any core exercises, I do not. That got me thinking about my posture and low and behold…your posture affects your sinuses. Bringing my shoulders forward for even just the past ten minutes is life changing. Its gonna be a tough road changing my posture after 43 years.
That’s great news Greg.
You are looking for the goldlocks zone – don’t pull back too much, don’t pull forwards too much. Get it just right 🙂
How does this solve the problem? I get how you’re not meant to pull your shoulders back like crazy, but in my opinion it will do better things for you in the long run than having drooping, rounded shoulders when you’re lifting, etc. Maybe you’re weaker because you haven’t used the right muscles in your entire life? It’s all about balance – the photo of the guy pulling his shoulders back is OVER-exaggerating the ideal posture – nobody with great posture looks like that! Imagine how ridiculous a pro athlete will look training with forward shoulders – that looks weak.
Hi Chris. Pulling the shoulders back causes lots of problems. I see people everyday that I have to correct because they have this false belief they need to have “good posture”.
Basically, if you set your posture via your spine and pelvis right first, you can then move into developing your muscles better. The scapulae just sit on the rib cage so getting it positioned better will help.
As you say, it is all about balance…so solve the reason why you have to pull your shoulders back.
Did you actually read the whole blog post mate?
Thanks for sharing the info, it was very helpful; Jesus Christ Bless! 🙂
Hey, great site. What have you got for strengthening the rhomboids?
As someone pointed out an poorly developed back is often the problem with sloping shoulders.
Ok. What did you learn from reading my blog post?
Why is it that some people have good posture and they don’t go to the gym or do exercises for their back?
If you count the scapula as part the shoulder then it can’t just passively sit on top of the chest. The rhomboids, for one, are quite active on the scapula – which is why I asked about them. I’d have to disagree that good posture is obtainable without work of some kind – for the vast majority some form of exercise.
You are right. But the shoulder girdle which is the scapula, humerus and clavicle hangs onto the body via the sternoclavicular joint.
As for muscular support, there are the traps which are far more substantial than the rhomboids, levator scapulae, pec minor, serrated anterior and little known omohyoid which help connect the scapula to the thorax (upper body). Why just focus on the rhomboids?
Good spinal posture is the first step to getting the shoulders in the right place. If you want to exercise, as I stated above, keep a good posture and the body will sort out what muscles to use to achieve what you want.
Just blindly doing an exercise because you think a stronger muscle will make your posture improve doesn’t work.
I’d have to disagree that there’s anything more substantial than the rhomboids when it comes to retracting the scapulae. Without strength there you have ‘wings’ and subsequent sloping shoulders. Good spinal posture can’t override a tense chest and weak back.
That’s your opinion and you are entitled to it.
If you know so much, why ask me? What is your qualification?
Rhomboids retract and downward my rotate the scapula which causes problems. Compare the rhomboids to the traps which are important to the functioning of the shoulder overhead along with serratus anterior.
Rhomboid, pec minor and levator scap work together to downward my rotate the scap which is fine during function but not ideal at rest.
I just find what you can do and can’t do and fill in the gaps. Winging scaps are usually from weakness of serratus anterior, not weakness of rhomboids.
Sadly opinions are all there are. Medical science seems quite uninterested in what a good posture is and how to attain it. At least that’s what my research has found. Thanks.
In the end, there is no one perfect posture. Just match the posture to the task. The results of testing will tell the story. People love to build all sorts of explanations but in the end, the best posture is your next posture.
Good luck Bud. Beware those that come down hard with “you must” type of ideas 🙂
Hi wonder if you could give me some advice…I had a cycle accident some 4 weeks ago and got quite a bad acromioclavicular strain(typical lump on shoulder) rightly or wrongly I competed in a road race 6 days later without a problem (I think!). I am trying not to aggravate the recovery process but feel I should be doing some exercises ? It does not hurt to do anything at a low height level and I have been advised not to strain effort at lifting or repetitive high reaches even though reaching up does not hurt. My hobby is playing drums (sat down) and I wonder if doing some light drum practice is ok . My wife has also been telling me for years my posture is poor and that I slouch forward most of the time so I have been trying to put my shoulder blades back more but having read your article I am not sure about this nor do I now think buying a shoulder brace would be a good idea ?
Hi Carl. That is a tough question. You really need to go see someone. My general rule is that if it doesn’t hurt AND you can do the movement properly, then it is ok BUT sometimes that rule is inappropriate.
I would check things out with a PT and get a clear diagnosis. Letting a possible sprain (I am guessing an AC joint sprain) get stiff then exercising after 3-6 weeks might be conservative but it works.
I hope that helps
Antony thanks for the quick response I am away from home for five weeks now so no chance of seeing my PT but will see him on my return . In the meantime I will do some light excercise and some light work on the drums and see how it goes . I have previously noticed I have been subconsciously not using my injured arm as a result it’s felt stiffer and muscle pain seems to have gone into my neck but when I use it as normally as I can the stiffness goes as does the neck pain so I will use the arm as normally as I can if that makes sense .
Finally on another note all together in relation to helping to prevent pain in various parts of the body in particular back pain I read an article a few years back about salt and water ….essentially it stressed that the argument about too much salt being bad for you is not all it appears and that providing you are drinking enough water both are absolutely essential for our bodies …. Indeed the whole article premise had the conclusion that if people drank the right amount of water with the right salt intake it prevents many body aches and pains especially back aches … I just wondered what your views are …perhaps worth a septet ate discussion thread.
Once again thanks for your advice
No problem. Moving as normally as possible is always a good thing provided it doesn’t cause pain or other problems (as a general rule)
As for salt intake and water intake, my rules are simple. Drink to thirst. Eat real food. The dietary association in your country will have the recommended salt intake you need. Most people eat enough salt via processed food.
Thank you for this article – very informative and helpful 🙂
Hello, I’m 18 years old and I have a stooping back. It looks very bad and people keep saying me to straighten my back ,I do try and keep my back straight as far as possible but still when I see in mirror I think I’m growing fat around shoulders and tht gives a very bad look.Is there any workout or exercise to reduce that excess muscle/fat ! Pls help
Hi. It is hard to help you like this. Have you tried seeing someone near where you live?
General advice would be to learn how to exercise properly – that usually helps the most
My right should seems to drop further forward than my left. I also find that my torso bends or curves to the right when I do Body Attack or ab work. I also find that my weight shifts to the right when I am standing up and I constantly have to readjust. I have anterior pelvic tilt to which seems to be more prominent following back work outs. My upper torso also seems to twist to the right. I know that sounds like a lot and I am happy to answer any follow up questions. Thank you for your help.
hi Xander…what is your question?
If I do everything right, my shoulders are still pulling up a bit to hold the weight of my arms off the keyboard so my wrists are lightly resting on keyboard rest. But if I completely relax those muscles between neck and shoulders my hands are heavy on the keyboard rest. Is there a happy medium?
You need to produce the right tension for the task. But there is no “perfect” posture – the best posture is your next posture!
Keep in mind my setup is very ergonomic:
3M lowered adjustable keyboard tray
Kinesis Freestyle 2 split keyboard
I’m getting a Varidesk or Kangaroo Junior Pro standing desk converter for Christmas!
I regularly stand up and walk around and do stretches too. My diet has a fair amount of fruit and vegetables and I’m taking daily vitamins and Cod Liver Oil pills too.
Any advice is appreciated. Can I provide any more information?
Change is what I recommend. Keep the variety in there. Don’t sit for longer than 30mins if possible. Beyond that, if it feels good, then do it!
My new solution is strengthening over time. I do 20 squats, 3 times a day during my workday to increase blood flow. I’m also doing shoulder presses and shoulder raises at a 45 degree angle (between straight forward and to the side) and one-arm dumbbell rows.
This reminds me of how people think changing their diet will help them lose weight when in reality most of the results come from careful, measured strength training to balance out the wildly unbalanced muscles from leaning towards the screen all day.
Hmm, I think changing what you eat affects weight the most. The more I exercise, the hungrier I get. Some experts have pegged it at 70/30 the ration of diet/exercise…that seems reasonable.
There is nothing wrong with strengthening over time
They don’t use a ball in hockey.
“and they only sit on their because” – I think its “there” not “their”
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Antony – Your passion shows. A passionate professional is a good one. At age 50 I have finally been trying to correct a forward leaning posture – think Alan Alda from MASH – with a combination of yoga, core exercises, and light weight training. Unfortunately, tight bands of tissue in the traps make it painful if not impossible to allow shoulders to not rise up towards my ears. along with the tightness is a constant crepitus along the spine with any shoulder movement. Any suggestions?
The best suggestion I can give you is to have someone have a look for you.
In general, doing exercise in all different directions helps but ultimately you need to find out why your body is reacting the way that it is and then address the underlying problem, not the symptoms, which is ultimately the posture you are trying to change 🙂
Anthony…finally a blog that makes sense. I’m a 50 yr old female who became obsessed with my posture about 6 months ago. I was doing erratic weigh lifting and rolling backwards on an exercise ball. I know ‘stupid’.. End result, I’m not as flexible as I once was. I did damage to my t4 region on my thoracic spine. Xray doesn’t show anything therefore it must be muscular. My self diagnosis is t4 syndrome… Haha, I’m a teacher, not a doctor. Anyway, I need to know what is the best way to start real slow at improving first my back and then my posture.
Hi Sherry. I would say the best thing to do is to find someone to help you.
Posture is merely where your body is at any given point in time.
Focusing on good movement ensuring you go through your full range of motion is a good way to start.
Form follows function so keep doing good exercises in a balanced way and your posture will change 🙂
Hi. I injured my arm when I caught my elderly Mum when she slipped in the bath. That was about 5 years ago and it’s never been right since. The doctor gave me tablets which didn’t help. The pain is very specific. I can no longer reach to close the back hatch on the car. I struggle getting the ticket out of a car park barrier machine and I can do my bra up at the back! I can’t clean the back wall of the oven and I can’t clean the inside of the car windscreen. I have terrible posture, always have, and both parents also had it. Thinking of buying one of those braces for posture. I’m sick of this now. I can’t swim anymore either. Except with one arm and go round in circles!!
Hi sandyy- firstly, it is hard to give you specific advice. The best thing to do is to find a physiotherapist/physical therapist to help you.
Secondly, if you had the posture already, it is unlikely a brace is the solution…just guessing though.
Hi, I was recently found to have mild bursitis of my shoulder on MRI. The PT recommended several exercicises to strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, however I have noticed these actually make my pain worse. He mentioned in his evaluation of me that he fellt my problems may be from my shoulders being rolled forward. He wanted me to try to keep them back. I have been trying. I have metastatic breast cancer with mets to my thoracic vertebrae. Do you think trying to correct my posture will exacerbate or improve the pain from the cancer? Right now I have minimal pain, I just don’t want to exacerbate it.
I can’t speak about your condition specifically because it would be irresponsible for me to do so.
In general, for patients like you, I use the following rules.
1. History of cancer means I ask for a doctor to check the cancer is not affecting things
2. I don’t care about posture unless I can show the posture is affecting your pain. If your shoulders are rounded and without pain, I leave it alone.
3. Exercises and stretches and activity should be pain free. If they hurt, I ask my patients to call or email me so I can help change things.
I hope that helps!
Get better soon 🙂
Thank you very much. I just wanted you to know, they did work me up thoroughly to make certain my pain wasn’t coming from the cancer.
Excellent. Let me know how you go 🙂 Cheers
Hi I am in my early sixties and have severe pain just below my shoulder blade and only on the right side while im standing at the work unit in the kitchen or after using the computer for a while it only lasts for about half an hour but is very irritating is it poor posture
As you can appreciate, it is difficult for anyone to properly examine and provide an opinion on your problem on the internet. Posture can be a contributing factor or it may have absolutely nothing to do with it. I have seen both types of patients with this type of problem. If you have the pain and then you change your posture and the pain immediately goes away, it may be related…otherwise you need someone to properly check for you.
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hmm. I think Id have more trust in what you were saying if you video was not using the well debunked “proof” more commonly used to “prove” applied kinesiology https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aoq0k4iRLUs
Yeah, I made a video on something similar.
It works with weights
Hi Anthony. I sit all day at work and also do weight training 4 times per week.
For nearly 2 years now I have had a “pinch” feeling any time I raise my left arm to the side or forwards. I cant do any bench pressing or shoulder pressing as this makes it worse.
From reading online it seems to be shoulder impingement. However I’ve seen 2 different physios and although it has eased off this could be due to me staying away from problem exercises at the gym.
Have you ever heard of impingement lasting so long???
Im currently doing face pulls with a band twice a day and this has helped. Im just depressed that this problem wont go away and Ive spent a of money trying to fix it.
I guarantee if I did one set of shoulder press I would be back to square one again
Thanks for any advice, Paul
Hi Paul, you have to get to the root of the problem. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the shoulder.
Best general advice I can give you is to move pain free without aggravating the shoulder at a weight that won’t flare it up and then build up from there.
I do coaching sessions if you are ever interested via Skype or in person…
thank you for your blog, and esp this article. Its of interest to me as i have a very straight thoracic spine, how it cam to be that way i do not know, but i suspect its congenital or developed that way. I never noticed it until i injuured my nexk and shoulder many years ago. As the thoracic is straight my shoulders naturally drop forward, I have done a lot of back work and this has improved them but the thoracic is still straight. Opinions vary from the prfessionals ive seen, but in the main most say it shouldent be a problem. Is have you come across this straight thoracic before? If so any tips on how to manage it?
Kind regards Richard
Thanks for your comment. It is hard to say whether it is a problem or not. Theoretically, it should be fine. The main question to ask is whether it affects your function or not…
Hi, I simply have become mad for the past 5-6months…no one understand me and I have hit a point where I am mentally disturbed. These are the things which suddenly happened…. I can’t walk drive look straight…one leg has become shorter,left shoulder hiked up and feels comfortable right shoulder curve inwards pulling down,neck pulled towards the right causing my head to tilt, color none left potrudimg out right seems lower,left rib pushing out,hips tilt in a way I don’t feels comfortable to sit down,my pelvic floor is getting worst,and even my teeth and my face seems the right side being pulled…now my hair and head seems weird when I come my usual style, having all this issue at one go I just feel I should die!! But since I have kids I holding back . Don’t know what to do.
Thanks for the comment – I understand the problems you are having and I am sorry you are going through this.
Have you sought medical help? What have they said?
Hi, Antony and thanks for the article. I have a pronounced collarbone and thoracic outlet syndrome that’s not caused by an extra rib but some impingement due to my shoulders naturally wanting to be up (toward my ears) and forward. I can manage to keep things in reasonable positions during the day, but when I sleep, I revert to what my body wants and I lose all feeling in my hands. Do you have any recommendations on shoulder or posture braces that could help at night?
Hi Diane. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles.
My first instinct is to wonder if the explanation is correct and whether you can retrain the brain.
You can try all sorts of braces but the one that helps the most is the one I would recommend…but also remember that I don’t remember the last time I taped someone or sold or recommended a brace…
I would focus on teaching you how to do the painful postures differently and retrain what is currently painful to being not painful
Excellent article, thank you. Anthony, do you have any suggestions for poor posture and hyper-mobile knee joints? I’m always being told to pull my shoulders back or to straighten my knees – which feels like standing on points. Tucking in my pelvis seems to help slightly. Any ideas would be gratefully received. Thanks
Hi Alison. Movement, strengthening and learning how to control what you have are the cornerstones of my management of hypermobile clients. It’s not a simple fix. Finding the right people to guide you is not easy but there are lots out there.
It is difficult to give advice over the internet…and unethical. Best to check with a physical therapist.
In general, think about the words used – poor posture – what is poor about it? Maybe it is just limited? Or you aren’t strong enough to hold other postures?
Hypermobile knee joints – in general, you can learn to control the knees and get them strong…I’d be checking that avenue of treatment
I don’t like pulling shoulders back (as you have read!) or tucking the pelvis. I would focus on making every posture you find yourself in a strong posture and one that isn’t associated with pain.
Hope that helps!
Why is my physio telling me to pull my shoulders back and down then? It seems the beliefs differ from physio to physio. I feel like im getting suckered everytime i see a health professional because it conflicts with the last. Does anyone actually no what they are talking about or do they just beleive their own bullshit? Not having a go at you personally Antony. Sorry for my frustration
Ask your Physio to read this blogpost and respond.
Unless your shoulders are in your ears, you probably don’t have to pull them back and down.
It is what is taught to us but people don’t test their advice enough.
I dont think he would appreciate a client telling him he is wrong. Are posture corrective exercises something you beleive in?
If he is a good Physio, he will consider what you say. I ask my patients to show me what they find on the internet because I’d rather give my reasons why I think it is good advice or not rather than have them try figure it out on their own.
You aren’t telling him he is wrong, you’re merely saying you are confused and this blog post seems to make sense.
If pulling your shoulders down and back makes you feel better and stronger and less pain, then go for it. Otherwise ask for more proof.
I am not sure posture is the problem. I teach people to be strong and efficient in any posture they find themselves in, not try find the holy grail of the perfect posture because life is rarely perfect.
Be strong in all movements and postures
Be free in all movements and postures
Be comfortable in all movements and postures
Be able to do all movements and postures pain free.
Thanks antony that sounds like good advice.
I have really rounded shoulders from bench pressing and maybe not enough back exercises. I try to strech my pectoral muscles however the problem is still there. It is so difficult to keep my shoulders pulled back and its really uncomfortable sometimes. Do you have any suggestions as it is really upsetting me as I look more narrow and smaller with rounded shoulders, plus I know it is back for my posture/health. Kind regards,Dean
Your health doesn’t usually hinge on your posture so cut yourself a break 🙂
Is your program balanced? Maybe you need a coach to check it or get someone to assess it for you.
Forget stretching and do better and more varied lifts.
I found your article very informative. It clarify me of many questions I had concerning
I have a grandson that was diagnosed with “Chest Cave-in). We noticed that little by little he is acquiring shoulders and head forwards.
Can you tell me if there is connection with the problem and his chest. Also he was offered the option to a very painful surgery to correct this problem, but do you know if there is some type of brace that will improve some his growing problem.
Hi. It is difficult to say for sure why things happen. The shoulders sit on the rib cage. “Chest cave in” often doesn’t affect the back of the ribs but it can.
Best to see someone for specific advice on this.
I’m sorry I can be more specific for you.
Hi, I wanted to ask if it’s normal to have a constant ache in the middle of your back when you are starting to improve your posture? I get relief when I sit down and slouch, curl up comfortably ect, but that is exactly what I’m trying to avoid doing!
There are many reasons why you might be experiencing pain. Please check with someone knowledgeable about it. Maybe test them first though and ask them what they think good posture is. A good posture is ANY posture that allows you to do what you want without pain. There are no “bad” postures.
If you find slouching is comfortable – great! If you can only slouch, then you have a problem.
Work on making every posture painfree.
I hope that helps!
I am desperate to figure out a solution for me. I had back pain in my low back/SI joint area for over 6 years. Eventually I got to a good spine doctor who attributed it to scoliosis and spondylotethesis (may have spelled that one wrong) and some disc problems. In the end, he and my physical therapist pretty well fixed my lower back problem. However, towards the end of treatment for my low back, I started getting a terrible pain around my right shoulder blade. The first doctor diagnosed it as a muscle strain and sent me for more physical therapy. Eventually I got a referral to my spine doctor because all my X-rays and MRI really showed were my scoliosis, loss of cervical lordosis (if I’m spelling that right, the PT said it was mild though), and some mild degenerative discs. I got sent for phonopheresis (another thing I might be misspelling) with the PT by the spine doctor. That didn’t help, but the PT also did some stretches and exercises, too, which helped, but I finished PT and it still hurts some. Too much for me to be satisfied just living with the pain in my shoulder as an active 31-year-old. Where I am right now is my PT thinks it is related to my scoliosis. He says my shoulder blade has a kind of knot on it, but both my shoulder blades do, so it is just how they are, but my spine curves in towards my right shoulder blade so maybe that has something to do with it. Obviously I’m paraphrasing in a much less intelligent, knowledgeable manner, haha. But in the end, when I finished my visits on my originall referral, he said he didn’t think there was anything else he could do and sent me on my way, which was disappointing because I really felt like he was onto something and my best hope of it getting fixed. My spine doctor currently thinks that it might be related to a degenerative disc and swollen nerve and is treating it as such. But I don’t think that treatment is helping and I think it is last shot he will take at fixing it before he gives up, too. One thing the PT pointed out and I have noticed is that my right shoulder is more rounded (I call it my slumpy shoulder) and my right shoulder blade protrudes. Even when I feel like I’m sitting with good posture, that shoulder slumps forward more and I really have to work with it and really pay attention to get it right. I was googling for things to do for it or possible posture correctors when I came across this article. I’m just not sure where to go from here. I feel like the slumped shoulder may not be the only problem, but might be part of it. The Occupational Therapist my mom works with thinks I should try a chiropractor, but that makes me nervous. I started trying to sew my own sort of support/brace for my shoulder, but I’m not certain that’s a good idea or would help, and it is only meant to be a sort of band aid until I can find someone to fix the problem permanently. If you can offer any advice, I would appreciate it.
Hi Tarah. I hope you can appreciate I cannot give you specific advice about your condition.
We know that many of the things you see and have been told about your spine don’t necessarily give you pain.
Forget what is “right” – can you find positions and postures that are pain free? If so, that’s great news.
Where are you in the world (city/country). There are good PTs but you have to look for them.
I’ll give you the secret to good PT…
1. Clear red flags
2. Clear obvious tissue damage like bones, ligaments and muscle tears – they just take more time to get better.
3. Regardless, teach pain free movement asap
4. Plenty of reassurance, education and psychosocial support
5. Whatever they can do, they can keep doing
6. Whatever they can’t do, they get as “rehab”
7. If it hurts, decide if you want to do it or not. You have the power
8. If you already have a “way” to do things, then find other “ways” so you can develop variety and resilience.
I really find when I’m in bed the affect my poor posture has on my shoulders. Is there a position I can try to sleep in which can correct my posture?
Also would you recommend trying the upright device?
I am in my early 20s and I know it is my core muscles that are leaving me with a por posture. I have been trying to correct it but it seems to be slow process. If I can do something while sleeping or a device I can wear during the day I would really appreciate any advice.
I would also like to add that I am by no means over weight. I am 5 foot 1 and weight 46kg
Or the lumo back and lift?
Thank you for your advice in advance 🙂
There is no such thing as a bad posture. Your best posture is your next posture.
Be more varied in your daily life and sleeping won’t affect anything 🙂
Thanks Antony for the good advice. Actually, since I am sitting all day and had quite stressful times recently, I am having shoulder problems for quite a while now. What helped me apart from your tip not to force the shoulders in any direction (which I did before) was to strenghten my “inner corsett”/core muscles in the way, Esther Gokhale and Benita Cantieni say. This really made the difference at least for me, plus a shoulder roll now and then.
Antony, What are your thoughts on posture braces and correctors? I saw your blog while searching for them..
Hi – I think those things are useless. Posture Correctors just hold you in a position. The body is dynamic and strong and stable. I think they are a waste of money and people selling them should stop doing so.
It is better to become strong and capable in any posture or position.
“I loved this post! There are so many people who suffer from postural problems! I will bookmark it for future reference.
Thanks for posting!”
First of all thank you so much for your great article, it has already answered some of my questions and helped me see some things I’d been thinking about the wrong way. However, I have another question: Two weeks ago I decided I want to do something about my rounded shoulders. When standing I think I have a more or less good posture, at least up to my shoulder blades, people always say that and it feels and looks ok I think. But my shoulders/neck are r ally bad. So I decided to start pulling my shoulders back, always, sitting and standing. And after like an hour or two, it started hurting around my upper spine, between the shoulder blades. That was what I’d expected, because of all the years of having them hunched forward and my body’s being used to another posture etc, so I just carried on. And I’ve been doing this for literally two weeks now without a break and by now, thepain in my upper back around the spine has still not left, but has grown so badly I couldn’t fall asleep yesterday, for forever, whichever position I was in, and I usually just lie down and then I’m out. My back just hurts so badly, so I take it I’ve been doing something wrong by just pulling my shoulders back? But am I supposed to start letting them fall forward again? Because that doesn’t feel or look good either. What do you suggest? Any exercises or corrections I should start?
Thank you so much for your website and I’d be incredibly grateful for your help!!! Thanks a lot already!
Hi Anna. Just stop it. Change takes time.
I can’t give you specific information about you without a consult.
I suspect you are just really diligent. Your shoulders sit on your rib cage so you cannt really change the position easily.
It doesn’t matter for function anyway.
Find someone to help. Worst comes to worst, I do Skype consults.
‘A flat back between your shoulder blades is NOT normal’ plus Flat Back Syndrome
I dont think my low back is completely flat, but my hips are definitely tilted back, so I have reduced lower lumbar curve. That led to forward head & shoulders.
If I can mobilize my lower lumbar, it will help my upper back. My thoracic spine is the only part of my spine that is quite healthy but after reading your site, I’m wondering if the thoracic curve is also missing.
Is there a way to determine it?
What kind of professional should I go to to get an assessment?
Hi! Great post! I am wondering about specific exercises to help with my back pain. I have a very large bust, 36J, that causes me a lot of problems. I have constant pain between my scapula and I almost always have rib subluxations. My lower back is always stiff and sore as well and my scalenes are constantly tight. I go to chiro and massage regularly. I will be investing in a posture support to get an hour of relief every day, and hopefully help my ribs stay where they belong. Ive jad 3 kids and rib pain compared to labor!
I would love to start some strengthening but have only been told to do the resistance band row exercise.
Keep up the great work!
Hi Kristine – it is difficult to give you good advice for your specific problem.
I would recommend strength training if your medical health professionals allow it.
The best is to find a suitably qualified physical therapist (physiotherapist) and go from there. Where do you live (city and country)?
What a BRILLIANT article! What you say makes SO much sense to me. I’ve struggled with neck and upper back pain for 4 years, especially after pregnancy and having kids. Two weeks ago i had a breast reduction because I thought they were the culprit. They definitely weighed me down – excuse the pun!- but finding out that posture is the biggest problem because neck pain is worse. Anyway, feels like a Chinese puzzle that I have to fix… I have been going weekly to physio and massage for 1.5 years now, so I think a good bio kineticist and this advice is all part of healingreat and an answer to prayer. Thank you!
This was such a great article! Thank you! I have dealt with pain for years and the shoulders back thing I totally understand – you pull too much and it creates new issues.
Hi Anthony Lo fascinating read. So it caught my eye because of the don’t pull your shoulder blades back heading. Little background, I’m 20 years old, I had been lifting weights since I was 14 and injured both my shoulders during weight training, I had shoulder surgery on both shoulders for instability (anterior arthroscopic surgery) but it didn’t fix my pain, my pain was always in my shoulder blades before but now it’s in my shoulders neck and shoulder blades. So after doing a lot of research I figured I have rounded shoulders because my thumbs are always pointing towards each other when I relax myself. So for the last week I’ve been keeping my shoulders pulled back and making sure my thumbs point out… All day long and at the end of every day I am in massive amounts of soreness… In my neck, shoulders and shoulder blades. I’ve also been doing physical therapy, strengthening and stretching routines given by my PT, I am basically curious to ask if you think I should continue to live my daily life by trying to have as close to perfect posture, until I have fixed my rounded shoulders. My doctor also has told me I have shoulder impingement and bursitis. Thank you very much for your time and input Anthony, have a great rest of your day!
There is no such thing as perfect posture.
I teach people to be as strong and mobile in as many postures as possible.
I do Skype consults if you are interested.
It is difficult to provide advice otherwise.
I have seen patients like you and I think a change of mindset and a good rehab program will help you the most.
Which city and country do you live in?
I live in Buffalo New York area and the United States, I am definitely interested in a Skype meeting, this shoulder blade pain I’ve been dealing with for 4 years or more now I will do anything at this point to fix, I thought surgery was my answer and that didn’t work either. Thank you
Use the contact us function on the website and I will email you back the Skype consult requirements.
I don’t know anyone in buffalo NY I’m afraid.
Hi there again Anthony, I sent you an email at the email above if that’s what you meant by contact us.
Hi. Haven’t got anything yet. Send to Antony
this is a great article! Love the logic behind this. I used to be so relaxed, but I started to try and “fix” my posture and ever since have made myself so much tighter, mainly wtih the shoulders. The only thing differently is instead of pulling the shoulders back, I was “rolling” them back as suggested by Esther Gokhale from the Gokhale Method. And while she has many logical and beautiful points to her book, I’ve have not found a lot of them to be useful and some of the them more detrimental (shoulders/neck)
Thank you so much for this article and other perspective. As a perfectionist, this perspective is just what I needed
Thanks David. I’m glad you found this helpful. Let us know how you get on!
I have been pushing my shoulders back for a long time because I thought I had bad pousture. I think I have bad posture. So now my shoulders look different and look weird. I think it’s because of me pushing my shoulders back. Please help me, I️ want good posture!!!
Hi. Maybe just relax? It’s hard to help you more than that because I haven’t assessed you.
Hi, I have recently been to see a sports therapist who said that I have a raised left shoulder. He gave me Pec minor and levator scapular stretches to do. Do you think this article still applies to me with just one raised shoulder and do you think I would benefit from any exercises?
I do think this article applies.
Pec minor pulls your shoulder forwards and down so it doesn’t make sense it contributes to a raised L shoulder.
Just exercise. Your shoulder blade sits on your body – so just use it in ways you want to. If you can do everything you want, does it matter what you look like?
Well it is the reason I went to the therapist in the first place that is the problem. I have been experiencing mild shoulder pain and a tingling sensation on the shoulder blade which I thought might be a nerve problem. He said it may be nerve problems but the cause is posture related.
Do you think back exercises aimed at pulling the shoulder downwards might benefit me? If so, can you recommend any?
I know this sounds finicky but it is important…I hope I am guessing correctly that an elevated L shoulder is what you think the problem is…
You went to the therapist because you have mild shoulder pain and a tingling sensation…that to me is the problem you have. Whether the shoulder is elevated or not is irrelevant because people have elevated shoulders and no pain and people have “perfect” looking posture and do have pain.
Posture might be associated with your symptoms but the cause of your problems are not usually posture-related…you’ve probably had the same posture for years without problems.
The way we deal with pain like yours is to dissociate the pain from any symptomatic postures and then get you back to the same posture without pain.
Here is a video on how I teach people to rehab their pain… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXJeymJkQZ0
I think any exercise that is not painful is good to help pain.
I would suggest you stop worrying about posture as being the problem but instead focus on finding as many different things you can do without pain 🙂
I have been to several chiropractos and so many doctors I that I can’t even count for severe neck pain and headaches. Nothing that anyone has recommended has given me any kind of relief. They just diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and gave me medication. I know that it is due to posture, my shoulders are constantly forward and my head is as well. I struggle to hold myself up when I am in a chair so I got a stand up desk but it doesn’t help that much. Do you have any advice on things to do when I have got to a point where I am having so much pain, muscle spasms, and headaches? It doesn’t seem that any doctors, physical therapists, or chiropractors have worked on posture with me, just relaxing and building strength in my neck muscles which didn’t help.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Thanks so much!
First of all thank you for the very informative post. I’ve found some very helpful cues from yourself and I’m grateful.
I would like to seek your opinion. I have chronic R shoulder pain, physio believes I have anterior tilt and have winging. In my case, I have been told to practice slightly pulling shoulders back and down as they are in forward tilt. Even when I extend from my crown to centre myself I have the issue.
Does this seem sage advice? I will say that from a results point of view I’ve had markedly less R shoulder pain. However, I have had L trapezius area pain and slight pins and needles.
I can’t offer you specific advice.
In general, I don’t consider winging of the scapula to be a problem to correct.
In general, I want everyone to be able to use their shoulder in whatever posture or position they find themselves in.
So, no, in general, it is not advice I would support…but it might be right for your case. The number of people where it is truly a problem is extremely low.
Your need to develop and engage your serratus anterior muscles. This will prevent them from pushing out and will help stabilize your shoulder joint anytime you have a resistant force in front of you (i.e. the floor during push ups)
I get horrible back and neck pain when my posture gets out of wack. I have worked on it for years and years, have made great progress, and I still find myself losing it every so often. It usually happens when I get sick or start losing sleep. Once I start sleeping better or get over the illness (and get a good shower, haircut, shave etc), I begin to be able to think about more things at the same time and with feeling healthier, I begin to to feel stronger and my posture improves as a result.
I agree 100% with the author. Forcefully pulling the shoulders back is NOT the solution, ever! I was always told that, read it everywhere, and it NEVER helped me. In fact, try this. See how many push-ups you can do with your shoulders pulled back versus centered.
The human body is not a block of steel where you attach arms and legs to it with screws and pins. It is a dynamic creation that seeks a center, and positioning any of your body parts in an extreme manner will require effort, will eventually cause pain, and bad posture.
I can give everyone a few tips that I have discovered. I will try keep it succinct, but as the author stated, regarding posture, that is a tall order.
1. I like to wear a tight T-shirt under my actual shirt. This seems to give me external input as to the actual position of my body parts and helps me to stay centered and attached to my core.
2. Take a really deep breath, extend your spine to the sky like a giant hand is pulling your head upward, and lift your chin a little. Now exhale and relax (slightly), but keep your rib cage expanded like it was when it was full of the air you breathed in. Now when you breathe, only your belly may move in and out, but not your chest, because it already expanded. Now you have created the foundation needed to build your good posture on. Eventually, your rib cage will relax and get smaller, because you are not a block of steel, so just do this every so often to refresh yourself.
3. As far as positioning of actual body parts, as the author stated, it needs to be learned for the actual activity you are performing, but if you are just standing still, stay away from extremes and refer the author’s article where he describes alignment of the pubic bone and breast bone etc. No need to repeat what he already said, and quite frankly, he said it better than I can.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! Get plenty of sleep, go to the dentist regularly, brush and floss, shower regularly, get regular haircuts, shave your face and/or body, eat healthy, don’t drink to excess, stop using tobacco or drugs, exercise regularly, stay active, stay in contact with friends and family, and be a positive force in your community. All of these things, and more, will (unexpectedly) help your posture.
Sorry if you got tired of reading this, but posture, in many ways, is an observable indicator of one’s overall health. So it is not something that can be simply “done”. It must be accomplished with a multi-pronged strategy of achieving many quality of life standards, practice, learning about your body, improving your body, learning a few tricks here and there, and maximizing your overall health.
Thank you for your comment
Hi, I am a 46 year old female and I suffer from roller shoulders and winged scapula. I have constant pain under shoulder blades. While lying on my back, I can not extend my arms above my head and place them flat on the ground. Just hanging clothes in the closet causes pain and weakness. lWould a posture corrector brace for clavicle and rolled shoulders help me? I’ve had this condition since I was a child,
I would not be comfortable giving any sort of specific advice with a consultation.
If you have had this for some time, I would look to use movement and training to address things, not “posture correctors”. But I can’t say for sure.
I do online consults. Or find someone who understands pain science well.
I have twin 10 year olds who do a lot of competitive swimming, and train 7 hours a week. The ‘stockier’ one seems to have a very relaxed posture, shoulders and arms nice and loose like a marionette, with good alignment. The ‘slim’ one is much taller, considered tall for age, and has developed a very rounded back and what some call swimmers’ slouch. Being very tall also seems to have made this one a little self-conscious which further encourages a stooping posture.
I don’t want to be a nagging parent, giving constant reminders to sit up straight etc, as I reckon this would be counterproductive and might further impair correct posture and development.
Hi nico. Thanks for the comment.
Maybe something you can check is that your taller twin can still move into all the positions the stockier one can. If so, there is usually nothing to worry about (best to check with someone who shares my philosophy about posture though!)
One way to increase the variability of the taller twin’s postures is to encourage activities that require looking and reaching up above their head.
Don’t nag on the posture…it doesn’t work and just creates another burden. Best to encourage all movements and don’t demonise their current posture.
All the best
Not sure if this site is still active, but here’s goes my question. I am 68 years old, and have had scoliosis since my mid-20’s. Long story short, this was a medical mistake. I had to be on strong cortisone for a disease I had, and while the doc prescribed antidotes, he neglected to put me on calcium supps, so the cortisone ate up my calcium (I was 17 years old, and still had growing bones). Now, I look like the hunchback of nortre dame. It wasn’t discovered until adulthood, and so nothing could be done. I was hoping there was a special shoulder “brace” that would keep my shoulders BACK, but after reading your article, I guess that is not a good idea. I’m so tired of looking like I’m 88 instead of 68. My mind and face are NOT feeling my age, but boy my back sure does. Any suggestions at all?
I am sure there are solutions for you. This is not the forum to provide individual advice.
I’d ask a good physical therapist about the exercise options available to you.
Hi, just a question on head and neck positioning for posture, you hear the phrase point the crown of the head towards the ceiling, does this mean to tilt your chin slightly so that the neck lengthens and the crown points to ceiling.?
I am someone who is very conscious of their posture and continually try to keep in good posture but at times a find it so tiring and too much work. Its as if it takes all of your time and attention, and i don’t favour this.?
I don’t suffer from any pain, neck, back or anything so maybe i don’t need to be as conscious.?
Any advice please, i love your posts! 🙂
Hold you neck and shoulders however you like! If you don’t like where they naturally sit, you can just take the time and effort to change it to something you do like.
There is no right or wrong posture.
Your neck has so many joints so you can orient your head in many ways and they are all good to have strength and endurance in all of these positions and postures.
If you want things to change, then put the effort in. If you think you have to do that to have good posture, then someone has unfortunately misinformed you.
I can’t specifically speak to your case but most people don’t need to work so hard on their posture such that it takes their time and attention!
I had a surgery in Oct and had 2 incesion in my abs on the same side and the color bone neck area same side as the others. It removed one of my 6 pack muscles so I have a 5 pack now and from a previous surgery 10 years ago in the same side as the scars I have one of the front neck muscles that was removed it seems which was verified by my last surgeon. Anyway, since that surgery I’ve had some issues regaining my posture. I kept being told be physio to put shoulders back and align my spine. Nothing about my bottum have which I’d begun over flexing and sticking my bum out, I used to ride horses and had great ositure so I knew something was wrong. However I was so tight I coukd not seem to realign. It kij dif became second nature to throw the hsoukders back and over flex at the hip and waist. Then I got lower back pain and ive never had that before. I alps developed shoulder pain in the back which was new. I began recently to try to retrain the lower have and tighten the abs up and the bum to get it more in line, it feels like alot so i test it by seeing if i can still rotate my hips forward, ie like in riding there is still forward and backward movement in the pelvis telling me it’s a happy center and just feels like to much right now like when I corrected riding potion in the past. But I got stuck on the shoulders and neck. Lower back pain has improved with exception to how the scar tissue is pulling on me. Now the shoulder upper back area I still have pain in. I rralised the last day I was throwing my shoulders back. Forcefully possibly again over extending backwards in hyper flexion and forcing my head back as well. Does that sound like I made the right connection and the pain could be related to that upper posture? Before I read this I took a walk and tried to alow myself to not force back to alow my body to align itself into a comfort zone. I was still sore in that area but not as much, but I’m guessing the area is irritated now so it may take time for all pain to cease to know if I made the right move and it was enough. What would your advice for some on elik eme be? I’m worried I’ll always feel bad orw eird walking and that I’ll never find my center again do to the missing muscles now and the ot I got was less than helpful and seems to have put me in a bad position anyway. Btw this artical helped me alot and I’m so glad I found it. It was the best info I have found on posture and so discriptive too.
Hi Bevin, Sorry I missed this post for a couple of months!
I hope you are continuing to play with this.
I cannot provide you personal advice as that would be unprofessional and to be honest, not the best for you and your circumstances – I do offer private online consultations if you are interested.
What we feel and what we actual do are often 2 different things so I’d encourage you to use video and mirrors to help you explore different postures and positions.
Let us know how you are going!
I remember coming across this a long ago and it being interesting and useful.
Now I’m studying anatomy and taking a NASM course and I’ve mulled over tons of information, and I feel like you are one of the only people that understands the shoulder complex. Since I child my shoulders have sat more forward (evidenced by all my mom’s photos haha) and I’ve always very comfortably done well with activity.
What’s funny is I used to that I had to fix that and now I understand why I would cause impingement at times in my shoulders. I’ve become very skeptical of what even professionals say and I try to stick with fact and reason to form my own opinions.
Also it is very noticeable that pulling the shoulders back my head stick out and having the forward naturally pulls the head back (as your article explains). I’m curious; can you explain why this happens anatomically???
Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and for providing another perspective of reason.
Hi David – sorry I didn’t see this until now.
I think the head moves forwards because it is relative to the thorax position – I’m sure someone might mention that chickens and bird walk that way – maybe it’s related but I’m far less sure to talk about that being the reason why hahaha.
This is really excellent, helpful information! Thank you so much for posting. I can’t tell you how many times I hear people tell someone to “stand up straight”, but there are never any specific steps given. How long should I do them to see the first results? Do you agree with the importance of releasing muscles mentioned here myergonomicchair.com/core-exercises-for-posture/?
Hi Anna – thanks. It is difficult to say what you need without an assessment.
The information in that website is about 40yrs old and not applicable nor confirmed by the research but it lives on!
Exercise in a way that allows you to develop strength and control and power in all ranges of motion and positions and loads in a safe way for you…and the best way to determine that is to get help. If you cannot find someone to help, I do online consults. If the price is too much, there are others who charge less than I. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cheers
I’m confused on how this article tells any real information. It feels like it’s repetitive and doesn’t exactly list why I shouldn’t keep my shoulders back. The only thing I saw was about the ribcage thing, but even then it seems like a “do it if you want” kinda thing. There’s no set reason. I’ve started keeping my shoulders back. Doing so instantly stopped pain or uncomfortableness from my bad posture. I often sit for extended times, this being one of the reasons I wanted to change. Along with that, I walk better. Keeping my shoulders back has also encouraged me to keep my head balanced so that I can see everything. And good posture has also allowed me a very aware physical look. While slouching and holding the posture you say to be good has given me pain. In all, this article is very confusing and has little evidence of why I shouldn’t hold my shoulders back when it has given me all these benefits.
I’m glad you are doing well. My referral bias is a lot of people who pull their shoulders back and maintain the pain they have. Variability is kind. The research supports my position. Results for you or for me can be subject to post hoc fallacy where the results don’t prove the reasoning. Have all the postures my friend. There is no bad posture.
Hi I hope its still ok to ask questions. This article is amazing and as another commenter wrote being out of whack posturally can cause so much pain and misery it’s hard to bear. I had a bad habit all my life of sitting in a chaise longue position slumped to the right leaning me head on my hand. . 40 years. I recently realised this has caused alot of problems. I have mild pectus excavatum but the top two ribs on the side I kept leaning on, (right) stick out Alt.I thought holding shoulders back would help but this has cause nerve pain in back below shoulder blades radiating from the spinal disc that sticks out the most (t3 I think) n slight kyphosis imo.I went to a physio who said my posture was ok but that my right pectoral were extremely tight from overuse. I’m training and have hammered the chest before I knew this too so that hasnt helped. I’ve stopped putting my shoulders back and having my right shoulder in a more forward position makes my protruding ribs look not as bad. How do I keep my body and shoulder in a comfortable position. Is it about loosening the tight chest and working the back more. How di you isolate back muscles without activating the chest at all. My chest is so tight it stifles my breathing to a degree and pulls my throat.im trying to straighten my ribcage up too. Thanks in advance and sorry for the novel!
Hi Sam. Never too late to ask. It’s hard to give opinions without an assessment. I do have online options. If we remember that the body adapts to what we do to it, the general principle is to train it to adapt to the way you want it to. Hope you have a good day. Cheers
Hey Sam. Thanks for the comment. Apologies for the delay in replying. It is unethical and dangerous for me to give individual advice without an assessment. Also, you are with a physio already, which is great.
So I will speak in general.
1. Your body is adaptable – I don’t care hold old or young people are, we see adaptations at every age.
2. Adapting to a common position is ok. Peoples bodies do that. It also means that people can train to adapt it to different positions 🙂
3. Understanding how to do that requires an assessment and experience at doing that. If anyone is interested in that, I do consults for that online and in person. I am also happy to work with people’s current providers – I don’t need to be the first provider you see or the only one. I’m happy to be part of a team. http://www.antonylo.com
I hope it goes well for you Sam.
I get a huge ache in my middle back slightly to the left whenever I’m sat down or standing for too long. Sometimes numbness and a little bit of numbness in top right side of my left food. I have started to work on breathing more diaphragmatically, and core work. However when I try flobility exercises I get a pain through my my neck into my chest, like a string being pulled. I also have a slightly uneven chest/sternum. I am worried this could be affected by a buldging disc or something. But either way my posture is constantly causing me problems. I’m currently on a coach and I’m having to sit in random positions to make it more bareable. What do you think
Hey Luke. Thanks for the comment. It is unethical and ill advised to give individual advice without an assessment.
So, in general…
1. Numbness is usually a neural sign – see a doctor or healthcare professional like a physio or physical therapist about that. There are many reasons why numbness occurs – usually doesn’t need surgery or anything but that’s what an assessment is for.
2. The neck pain into the chest thing is also something to check.
3. I do online and in-person consults if you are interested. http://www.antonylo.com
I hope you find the help you are looking for Luke. Cheers