Is There Really A “Perfect Posture”?

While many people first come to the chiropractor to seek help with a painful complaint, many people also look to us for help with poor posture. It’s also quite common for people to mention poor posture as part of their overall “list” of issues! Oddly, however, many people can’t quite seem to put their finger on exactly what their posture should be – so this week, we ask the question, is there really a “perfect” posture?


Is There a Perfect Posture?

“Sit up straight and stop slouching!” is a common refrain that you’ve likely heard since childhood, but is there such a thing as perfect posture to start with, and, if so, does “Sit up straight and stop slouching” actually describe it?  The answer is a bit complicated.

The latest research shows that thinking about a “balanced” or “dynamic” posture may be more important than a perfect one – at the same time, we’re also discovering that our ability to change positions and move may be more critical than our static position while standing or sitting.

You see, rather than being a “fixed” ting, your posture comprises a dynamic pattern of responses, reflexes, and habits—not a single position. Gravity, your work environment, and your anatomy all play a role. For instance, sitting for hours staring at a computer screen is a perfect example of an imbalanced and challenged posture due to ergonomics. Over time, this imbalance can lead to forward head posture, which can cause pain and potentially even degenerative changes in your joints. Forward head posture affects millions of people who spend their days using computers. It places stress on the neck and shoulders and weakens the supporting muscles.

Strength and flexibility also play a significant role in your posture. Having good core strength and balancing that strength with flexibility can help you dynamically adapt to your environment  weather that be sitting, standing or undertaking physical activity. While “perfect” posture may not therefore really exist, each of us can improve our strength, flexibility, and ergonomics to reduce our likelihood of experiencing pain.


Improving Your Posture to Keep Your Spine Healthy

While there isn’t therefore a “perfect” posture to aim for, most experts would agree that “good” posture reduces the stress on your spine by balancing the load placed upon the muscles and ligaments that support it.

Good posture is beneficial for the same reasons that poor posture is bad –  it helps you align your bones and joints properly. This helps reduce the wear and tear on your joints and can decrease the strain on the ligaments that support your spine. New research also indicates that maintaining a good or balanced posture can help you use your muscles more efficiently and prevent fatigue.[1]

For many people, preventing or recovering from back pain is the primary goal – and here,  pain, your best posture may actually be one of motion. If you sit in one position too long, small nerves will detect the pressure and send messages to your brain, indicating that you’re uncomfortable—which is your prompt to move!

Researchers believe these “uncomfortable” signals before pain are our body’s way of telling us to move or change positions – for example, a standing desk is one of the best strategies to reduce neck and lower back pain associated with sitting.


When Posture Goes Bad – Postural Stress

Postural stress occurs not only because of your anatomy but also because of the decisions you make each day. Believe it or not, many spend 2 hours or more daily on their smartphones or tablets. That adds up to hundreds if not thousands, of hours each year! The position we hold our heads in while using these devices is referred to as “tech neck.” And over the past few years, the pain associated with these positions has been growing by leaps and bounds.

It’s estimated that tilting your head forward, even just 15 degrees, can increase the weight of your head on your neck by over 3X. Tilting your head forward 60 degrees can reduce the stress and strain on your neck[2]. Over time, this can result in pain, stiffness, dysfunction, headaches, and more. The excellent news about postural stress and tech neck is that a few simple changes to your routine can help you reduce your risk of experiencing pain – Indeed, just taking breaks every 15 minutes and looking up from your phone or tablet can help your body reset and give your muscles a chance to relax, whereas some targeted muscle strengthening can make a significant difference for some people.[3]


Need Help With Poor Posture?

While many people associate chiropractic with treating back pain (and with good reason!) ours is an approach that can be excellent for improving your overall posture, range of motion and dynamic movement. If you’d like to get your posture in check, why not sign up for our next FREE workshop, where you can learn more, and receive a free spinal evaluation from one of our experts!



[1] Breaking up workplace sitting time with intermittent standing bouts improves fatigue and musculoskeletal discomfort in overweight/obese office workers. Occupational & Environmental Medicine. 2014

[2] “Tech Neck” Taking a Toll on Posture. Columbia Spine. 2018

[3] Effects of Lower Trapezius Strengthening Exercises on Pain, Dysfunction, Posture Alignment, Muscle Thickness, and Contraction Rate in Patients with Neck Pain; Randomized Controlled Trial. Medical Science Monitor 2020


Blog by / May 14, 2024 / Blog

Dr. Paul Irvine is a doctor of chiropractic who graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of NSW and in 1996, attained his Master of Chiropractic degree from Macquarie University in Australia. He practised in North Sydney for 5 years before he left Australia to travel and practise in the UK. He joined Complete Chiropractic in 2003 (est 1999) and took over the clinic in 2007