‘Good posture’ and good health of the body’s supporting structures tend to go together.
Problems with posture can also be caused by conditions that weaken one or more of the structures that support the body, which include the spine, back muscles, hips, shoulders, neck, and the abdominal wall.
In some cases, people are born with genetic conditions that affect the shape of the spine and hips and can influence posture from birth. Being born with legs of different lengths can also affect posture. Such conditions can be managed to minimise the harmful effects they can have on posture over time.
In other cases, injuries from sports or other activities can affect posture as the body protects itself from more injury, such as by limping when you have hurt your foot.
Often, our posture changes as a result of the work we do, or other activities that lead to overuse of different parts of the body.
Underuse can also be a problem. For example, weak back muscles on either side of the spine, or in the abdominal wall at the front of our bodies can affect our ability to maintain a good posture.
For many people, sitting for many hours each day year in and year out causes muscles and ligaments to tighten or become weaker. Both changes can dramatically affect overall posture.
Research has shown that everyone can practise some simple strategies to reinforce good posture and to reduce bad posture. Try this:
- Exercise regularly - even a brisk walk for 10 minutes a day will help you improve your general health and your posture by keeping your body supple and active.
- Do gentle exercises such as those in yoga and Pilates to help strengthen the support muscles in your back and stomach and improve your posture.
- Spend 10 minutes a day doing simple stretching exercises.
- Stand tall, which means straightening your spine, moving your shoulders down to their natural resting position and breathing in to tighten your stomach muscles.
- Do simple head movements to help loosen tightened neck muscles that can interfere with good posture. Try gently moving your head in small circles, or from front to back and side to side.
- Lie flat on the ground for two to three minutes once a day without using any cushions or support and relax to allow your body to readjust to its natural resting position.
Find out more about how to improve your posture at work and at home.
Not sure what to do next?
If you are still concerned about your posture, why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).
Last reviewed: July 2015