Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (2022)

[Updated on 1 June 2020] If you have poor posture, chances are you already know, and one of the indicators could be external aching from several points in your body, including your shoulders that might have tipped you off. However, it is important to note that pains and aches aren’t the only things that bad posture can do to your body. The real problem is that it can weaken your muscles, exposing you to serious injuries.

Poor posture is caused by a host of things. If you are constantly stuck at your computer, your shoulders tend to hunch forward, and your back is forced to hunch forward hours at a time. In case you have other health complications like depression, stress and, inflammation can only make your problem worse. If you don’t stretch and exercise daily; this kind of discomfort will contribute to sleepless nights, waking up stiff, starting a whole cycle.

Ideally, bad posture is caused by both weakened and tight muscles. You’ll first notice tightness in the muscles in your neck, shoulder, and back. The remedy will be to relax and beef up those muscles. However, you will still need a solid core to discourage you from slouching to prevent lower back injuries.

So, what is the best way to improve your posture and keep your back safe? Well, it involves strengthening all of these muscles: your core and entire upper body. This will include exercise such as core building golf swings, shoulder rolls, ‘angles’ that help ease up the tension in your upper back, building the muscles that keep your shoulders in the right position.

But since everyone is a little different, the best thing to do it to book an appointment with your physical therapist. They will be in a much better position to recommend exercises for specific problems you encounter.

What muscles help maintain your posture?

Table of Contents

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It is important to note that having good posture is a combination of flexibility in your skeletal muscles, and balanced strength, which helps you stand and walk gracefully. The conscious activation of the postural muscles is very important, especially when standing or sitting for an extended period. Medical practitioners, advocate training your body to move in such a way that little strain is put on your supporting muscles when performing weight-bearing activities or during movement.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (1)Head support

The average adult head weighs about 12 pounds. Your head needs to be carried over the spine in balance to prevent pain and discomfort in your spine and neck. Your prevertebral, sternomastoid, and scalenus muscles are what enables the head to be flexed when touching your chin to the chest.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (2)

Shoulder Girdle

A flat triangular shaped muscle, known as the trapezius, is what isresponsible for anchoring your shoulder blades to your spine. The trapezius covers the entire section of the neck, thorax, and shoulders. For effective posture, this triangular shaped muscle needs to be equally strengthened at the front and back of your body. The most common imbalance of this particular muscle is normally overextended at the back, and too short or tight across the chest, forcing your shoulder blades to pop-out. This effect causes pain and discomfort.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (3)Midsection

The midsection on the back of an individual’s body has muscles that run laterally to the spine. These muscles are known as the erector spinal muscles. They are the longissimus, spinae, and iliocostalis, respectively. These muscles work together to extend your spine. The multifidus muscles, which is a smaller group of muscles located deep in the back, connect to your vertebra. The most recognizable muscles from the front of your body are the abdominal muscles. The long vertical muscle that runs the entire length of the abdomen is known as the rectus abdominis. The oblique muscles, on the other hand, stretch around the sides and front of your stomach like a corset.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (4)Pelvic region

Several multitasking muscles are located in this region; a few are postural. The Transverse abdominis is a flat, horizontal muscle that lies below the belly button. The iliacus and the psoas work synergistically with the abdominal muscles to support the lumbar back. The tail end of the postural support is the hamstring and gluteus muscles. They work indirectly to help you maintain an upright posture.

How do weak muscles lead to poor posture?

If you have been experiencing chronic neck and back pains, there’s a chance you might have poor posture, however, it’s hard to determine which condition came first. Nonetheless, you will often be advised to strengthen your postural muscles to reverse bad posture.

Types of muscles

Sometimes going to the gym might not help regain correct posture. One reason you might experience this is-you did not target the relevant muscles. These are the stability muscles. Most of the time, gym training focuses on power muscles and not stability muscles. It’s important to note that, muscle exercise alone will not reverse poor posture and postural awareness is a big part of your recovery.

Most people believe that muscles are just muscles, but in fact, they are divided into two basic types: smooth muscles, and striated muscles, which include postural muscles.

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Striated Muscles

These are your skeletal muscles. They generally consist of your calf or bicep muscles. Your heart muscles are also classified as part of your striated muscles even though they are different from the other skeletal muscles.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (5)Smooth Muscles

Your smooth muscles, on the other hand, are involuntary muscles that naturally blend into other body tissues to form your intestines and bladder.

Is there are the difference between Smooth and Striated muscles?

The distinguishing factor between striated and smooth muscles is that striated muscles tend to weaken the further they are stretched out. Therefore, if a particular striated muscle is about 10 cm long, it will exert more force at both ends when it contracts than if the same muscle is stretched to 20 cm.

Smooth muscles, in contrast, do not lose strength when they get stretched out. This is a vital feature with a full bladder or stomach. Therefore, the skeletal muscle, a type of striated muscles, gets weak when it is stretched and stronger when it is shortened. For people with bad posture, what does this mean?

Well, what it means is that one of the key things to do to strengthen your weak postural muscles is to shorten the lengthened muscles and lengthen the shortened ones. This activity helps to strengthen your core postural muscles, releasing the overly strong muscles positively contributing to the reversal of poor posture.

Most times, sustaining good posture gets confused with how we think about muscle training programs. When it comes to building strong muscles, a lot of us get confused and think about making more repetitions, carrying heavier weights and repeating as required. This will generally work if we are talking about big power muscles like your thigh or bicep muscles. It is important to note that postural muscles have a higher percentage of Type I fibers. These types of fibers have not been designed for power but endurance.

Therefore, when it comes to the slow twitch fibers, the best workout would be to utilize the lower load threshold, making sure that you are holding it for longer periods at a given time. While this might sound like you are holding the right posture for an extended period, it will help reverse poor posture over time.

When your movement is laded with a heavy load, your Type II muscles take over. It is because of this reason that lower load exercises such as Yoga or Pilates are great for people with low back problems, compared to heavy lifting experienced in gyms.

Signs you have a weak core

It is important to note that your core muscles are the most important muscle group in your body. They generally occupy areas in your lower back, glutes, stomach, truck, and hips. Your core muscles are very important when it comes to lifting, twisting, bending, and reaching. Your normal life needs constant usage of the core muscles. While we often get distracted building showier muscles, a strong core is critical to good postural fitness. Most people have weak, inadequate cores, which directly leads to poor posture. The following are signs you have a weak core:

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Poor posture

Your lower back and abdomen connect to hold your pelvis and spine into position. In the event, these muscles are weakened; the first noticeable sign is instability. Individuals experiencing this effect will only be able to stand for shorter periods. They will also tend to have a slouched, slumped posture that will, in effect, strain their muscles. Only individuals with a strong core can hold healthy postures for long periods. It is also important to note that lower back pain and poor posture are directly connected.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (6)Lower back pain

Back pain is the most common cause of recurrent pain. The vertebrae discs of your spine will not be properly supported if you have weak spines around your spine. It’s important that your lower back has a forward curve to it. Having weak core muscles will make this position virtually impossible. This will ultimately lead to pain in the surrounding muscle tendons.

Poor balance

Your core muscles are responsible for the balance. Since poor balance is not noticeable, you might need to visit a facility and perform a test. You could also check your balance by standing on one foot with your eyes closed. Try one leg, and then the other. If you are unable to hold your position for at least ten seconds, then your balance is subpar, and this could be due to an underdeveloped core.

General weakness

Having muscular weakness in any part of your body could be a sign of an inadequate core. Since your core provides the needed stability for most of your movement, having weak arms and legs may be a revelation of core weakness. Actions such as kicking, throwing punches all depend on your core muscles.

When you fail to pass the ‘hollowing’ test

This is one of the simplest methods you could use to check your core muscle strength. First, take a deep breath, as you begin to breathe back out, try pulling your stomach back towards your spine as far as you possibly can. Try holding this position for ten seconds. If you are unable to make it that far, then your core needs some work.

Failing to hold a plank

Planks are one of the most popular abdominal position. This exercise can also be done as a strength exercise for your muscles. Planks are done by getting into a push-up position. Make sure you are holding your body is such a position that your entire weight rests on your arms, elbows, and toes holding your hips steady into position. Try holding this position for as long as you can. In case you are unable to hold the plank position for more than 50 seconds before your hips eventually give out, you have a weak core.

Your core produces the power that drives most of your movement. Therefore, having a weak core will affect every movement you make, and improving your core will work to your benefit. Fortunately, there are several simple exercises that have been designed to strengthen your core muscles. In case your core needs improvement, it’s important that you start exercising.

Exercises to Strengthen Weak muscles for better posture

A basic remedy to poor posture caused by weak muscles is simply getting up. Frequently getting up from a slouched position and doing the following easy exercises could significantly help you revitalize your weak muscles as well as a hunched over posture.

Wall Angel

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (7)

First, try standing with your back against a flat wall. Make sure that your feet are four inches from the base. Maintain a slight bend on your knees. Your head, spine, and glutes need to be against the wall. Now, slowly bring your arms up with the elbow bent so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades together to form a letter “w.” Hold this position for 3 seconds.

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The next step involves straightening your elbows to raise your arms to form the letter “Y.” Make sure not to shrug your shoulders to your ears. Repeat this position at least ten times, starting at “W” position, holding it for 3 seconds and raising your arms to form the “Y” Do at least two to three sets.

The Hip Flexor Move

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (8)

With your hands placed on your left thigh, press your hips forward to the point your hip flexors feel a good stretch. Contract your abdominals slightly tilting your pelvis behind while your chin is parallel to the floor. In this position, contract your abdominals, ensuring that you slightly tilt your pelvis aligning your chin parallel to the floor. Maintain this position for about 30 seconds before switching to the other side.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (9)The Doorway stretch

This workout is meant to help loosen tight chest muscles. Stand in your doorway, lifting your arm so that it is parallel to the floor. Bend your elbows so that your fingers are pointing the ceiling. Then, place your hand at the door jamb.

Now lean slowly into your raised arm pushing against the door jamb for about ten seconds. At this point, relax the pressure, pressing your arm against the door jamb again. Make sure that there is a slight lunge with your limbs, and your chest is moving forward past the door jamb for about ten seconds. Repeat this routine three times on each side.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (10)The X Move

This workout is meant to help strengthen your upper back muscles. These are the ones that are in-between your shoulder blades. Sit on the floor, extend your legs forward. Using a resistance band, place it around the bottom of your feet and cross one side over the other to make a cross formation. Grasp the ends of the band with your arms making sure they are extended in front of you.

Now, pull the end of the bands towards your hips, making sure you bend your elbows so that they are pointing backward. Hold and slowly begin to turn. Perform around eight to twelve repetitions for three sets.

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (11)

The Chin Tuck

This is perhaps one of the best workouts to reverse forward head posture by strengthening your neck and muscles. You can perform this exercise sited or standing. To effectively do this exercise, you will need to start with your shoulders rolled back and down. Facing straight ahead, place three fingers onto your chin. You will also need to tuck your chin, forcing your head to move backward. Maintain this position for about three to five seconds before releasing.

The more of a double chin you can make the better the outcome. In case you are doing this exercise in a stationary vehicle, try performing the chin tuck by pressing the back of your head to your car’s headrest for about five seconds. Do about 20 repetitions of this routine.

The V-Move

Muscles and poor posture - Your Body Posture Back Pain & Conditions (12)According to a Scandinavian study conducted in 2013, doing the V-Move two minutes a day, five times a week will decrease your shoulder and neck pain, significantly improving your posture. In an upright standing position, stagger your feet so that one is slightly behind the other. Grasp the handles, or the ends of the resistance band lifting your arms upwards and slightly outwards from your body. Make sure it is at 30 degrees. Make a slight bend in your elbows. Stop at the shoulder level; hold and return. For this exercise, it is important that you keep your back straight and your shoulder blades down. Repeat this routine for about two minutes, five days a week.

(Video) Effects Of Bad Posture On the Body (Only Few People Know This)


How can poor posture result in back pain a bad posture can result in tight muscles? ›

Unsupported postures cause the loads on your spine to disperse incorrectly, weakening the tissues in your lower back. As a result, the intricate network of muscles, discs, and joints in your back tend to be pushed beyond their tolerable limit, causing pain.

What muscles are affected by poor posture? ›

Therefore, when one is sitting in this awkward posture, it is common to see tightening of the fascia and muscles of iliopsoas, pectineus, occipitals, pectoralis, trapezius, sternocleidomastoid, levator scapularis, adductors, and piriformis.

What is meant by poor posture and how can it have a negative effect on your breathing? ›

You can think of the effect poor posture has on your breathing in exactly the same way! If your posture is slouched and hunched over, your chest and rib cage will be in a position which is less favourable to your lungs filling with air. This is because the movement of your diaphragm will be limited in this position…

What are the symptoms of poor posture? ›

6 Signs You Have Poor Posture
  • Rounded shoulders (and tight pecs) Occurring in tandem, high rounded shoulders and tight pectoral muscles are signs of poor posture common among office workers. ...
  • Forward head carriage. ...
  • Hunched back (kyphosis) ...
  • Recurring headaches. ...
  • Tilted pelvis. ...
  • Back/ neck pain.
May 20, 2019

What is poor posture? ›

Postural dysfunction or “Poor” posture is defined as when our spine is positioned in unnatural positions, in which the curves are emphasised and this results in the joints, muscles and vertebrae being in stressful positions. This prolonged poor positioning results in a build up of pressure on these tissues.

What causes poor posture? ›

As we get older, bad habits such as slouching and inactivity cause muscle fatigue and tension that ultimately lead to poor posture. The complications of poor posture include back pain, spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, rounded shoulders and a potbelly.

Can poor posture cause muscle pain? ›

If you're a serial sloucher, you can probably trace your neck and shoulder pain, stiffness and aching back right back to your posture. Ignoring advice on good posture can affect your overall health and set you up for neck and shoulder strain, back pain and even joint damage.

What is the most common source of back pain? ›

Strains and sprains: Back strains and sprains are the most common cause of back pain. You can injure muscles, tendons or ligaments by lifting something too heavy or not lifting safely. Some people strain their back by sneezing, coughing, twisting or bending over.

Does posture affect muscle? ›

Poor posture can contribute to tension headaches, due to increased muscle tension in the back of the neck. Often if we correct our posture, we can reduce muscle tension and improve our headaches,” says Strang.

Why is good posture important to your health? ›

Proper posture improves spine health

Sitting and standing with proper alignment improves blood flow, helps keep your nerves and blood vessels healthy, and supports your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. People who make a habit of using correct posture are less likely to experience related back and neck pain.

Can poor posture affect your heart? ›

Did you know that slouching can even affect your cardiovascular health? The same pressure that it puts on your stomach also squeezes your heart and lungs. Poor posture impairs circulation, which makes it harder for your heart to do its important work.

How can poor posture be prevented? ›

How can I improve my posture when standing?
  1. Stand up straight and tall.
  2. Keep your shoulders back.
  3. Pull your stomach in.
  4. Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
  5. Keep your head level.
  6. Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides.
  7. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Oct 25, 2017

What are the common postural conditions? ›

There are three common types of postural problems, they will each be examined and explained within this article. I will also provide information on what you can do to help the problem and attempt to combat them. The three most common ones are Kyphosis, Lordosis and Scoliosis.

What are the 3 postural defects? ›

Types of Postural defects
  • Scoliosis.
  • Kyphosis.
  • Sunken chest.
  • Genu valgum(k-leg)
  • Lordosis.
  • Abdominal ptosis.
  • Flat foot.
  • Genu varum(bow-leg)

What are the five main cause of poor posture? ›

Five Common Causes of Poor Posture

Bending in awkward positions while using these devices causes discomfort around the neck, back, and shoulders. Muscle tension or muscle weakness: If you have certain stronger or weaker muscles than others, it may enhance poor posture.

How do I improve my posture? ›

Try this instead: Sit all the way back in your chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back to protect your spine's natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher, than your hips. Place your feet flat on the floor.

What muscles improve posture? ›

Exercises to strengthen your core and buttock muscles, and back extensions, will help correct a slouching posture.

What helps back pain and posture? ›

Good Posture

And poor posture can make back pain worse, especially if you sit for long periods. Don't slump over your keyboard. Sit upright, with your shoulders relaxed and your body supported against the back of your chair. Try putting a pillow or a rolled towel between your lower back and your seat.

How I cured my back pain? ›

10 Ways to Manage Low Back Pain at Home
  1. Keep Moving. You might not feel like it when you're in pain. ...
  2. Stretch and Strengthen. Strong muscles, especially in your abdominal core, help support your back. ...
  3. Keep Good Posture. ...
  4. Maintain a Healthy Weight. ...
  5. Quit Smoking. ...
  6. Try Ice and Heat. ...
  7. Know Your OTC Medications. ...
  8. Rub on Medicated Creams.
Dec 21, 2020

What are the 3 main causes of back pain? ›

Car accidents, falls, muscle sprains, strains, and fractures are also causes of back pain. Injuries can lead to some of the physical problems, but some can cause pain all on their own.

What causes muscle pain? ›

The most common causes of muscle pain are tension, stress, overuse and minor injuries. This type of pain is usually localized, affecting just a few muscles or a small part of your body.

Does poor posture cause back pain? ›

Back Pain. One of the most commonly known side effects of poor posture is unwanted strain on your upper and lower back. Slouching forward puts pressure between your shoulder blades and causes you to flatten your back muscles.

What are postural muscles? ›

Core stability muscles, or postural muscles, are the deep muscles in your abdomen, pelvis and back. They act as a corset or scaffolding holding you together rather than moving your trunk. It is important to have good postural muscles to help maintain a good posture.

How can I straighten my muscles? ›

Standing Posture
  1. Stand with weight mostly on the balls of the feet, not with weight on the heels.
  2. Keep feet slightly apart, about shoulder-width.
  3. Let arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  4. Avoid locking the knees.
  5. Tuck the chin in a little to keep the head level.

Can Tight muscles cause poor posture? ›

Muscle strength and length

Over time, poor posture that demands support from phasic fibres causes the deeper supporting muscles to waste away from lack of use. Weak, unused muscles tend to tighten, and this shortening of muscle length can compact the bones of the spine (vertebrae) and worsen posture.

Can tight muscles affect posture? ›

Tight muscles.

If you hold your body in the same position for too long, your muscles can shorten, pulling your posture out of alignment.

How can poor posture result in back pain ABCD? ›

Some common ways you can get back pain due to poor posture include: Sitting for extended periods of time – Prolonged sitting causes the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles to become weaker and overstretched as well as shortening hip flexors, interrupting blood circulation and uneven weight on your discs.

Does posture affect muscle? ›

Neck Pain & Headaches

Poor posture puts pressure on your posterior muscles, which has a negative impact on your neck. Whether your shoulders are hunched forward or your head is aimed downward, the strain put on your neck by the tightness of these muscles can lead to tension headaches.


1. Bad Posture Causing Neck and Back Pain
(Cumberland Chiropractic and Sports Medicine)
2. How To Fix Lower Back Posture
(Tone and Tighten)
3. Doctors Debunk 11 Myths About Posture And Back Pain | Debunked
(Science Insider)
4. 5 Best Sitting Posture Tips to Reduce Back Pain & Neck Pain - Ask Doctor Jo
5. How To FIX Your Posture | 10-Minute Daily Routine
(Tone and Tighten)
6. 3 Overhead Press Mistakes (That can lead to back pain/poor posture)
(Back Intelligence)

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