Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 12:22 pm | Overcast with Haze 65º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Are You Slouching Toward Back Pain with Your Posture?

Click to view larger
(Cottage Health photo)

How long has it been since someone told you to “sit up straight"? Kids get advice on their posture all the time, but some adults could definitely use a reminder.

People who slouch throughout the day can be vulnerable to a wide variety of problems, including back pain. If your back aches, you just might be able to relieve your pain by straightening up your act.

How Does Poor Posture Cause Back Pain?

“When everything is properly aligned, the joints and muscles in your back easily share the burden of supporting your body weight,” said Dr. Richard Kahmann, an orthopedic surgeon affiliated with the Cottage Center for Orthopedics.

Poor posture disrupts this balance. As reported by the Cleveland Clinic, slumping forces the muscles and tendons in the lower back to work harder than usual, raising the risk of sprains and strains.

Poor posture can also cause unnatural wear between joints, potentially setting the stage for arthritis.

What Can I Do to Improve My Posture?

For most people, good posture doesn’t come easily. In fact, it usually takes a lot of practice to keep the back in its “natural” position. Many people with back pain need to enlist an occupational or physical therapist to help them improve the way they stand, sit, and sleep. Once they get into the habit, good posture eventually can become second nature.

Here are the basics of good posture:


» Think tall. The top of your head should stretch toward the ceiling.

» Think straight. You should be able to draw a straight line from your earlobe to the front of your anklebone, crossing the tip of your shoulder, the middle of your hip, and the back of your kneecap along the way.

» Think proud. Keep your chest out, your shoulder blades back, and your stomach tucked in.

» Keep it even. When standing still, your weight should be evenly distributed on each foot. You can also try setting one foot on a box or a footstool. Switch feet every several minutes.

» Forget fashion. A high-heeled shoe can throw off your posture and strain your back. Your shoes should be flat and comfortable.

» Don’t become a statue. Move around as much as possible, and don’t let your knees lock.


» Sit straight. This mantra of first-grade teachers really is good advice.

» Keep your upper back straight, your head high and your shoulders relaxed.

» Choose your chair with care. A firm, straight-backed chair can give your back extra support. The ideal chair will also have armrests. If your chair at work doesn’t have armrests, position it so you can easily rest your arms on your desk.

» Do your leg work. Your knees should be about the same height as your hips, and your feet should be flat on the ground.

» Consider a cushion. A small cushion or towel tucked between your lower back and the chair can help keep your spine in line. Besides, it feels great!

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Enter your email
Select your membership level

Payment Information

You are purchasing:

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series