Today, most people spend a good part of their day sitting down. This is not doing your posture any favors- ditto for your back, neck, and shoulders.

Sitting all day leads to slouching; slouching to back, neck and shoulder pain

We know that it is popular these days for articles about posture to emphasize the importance of proper posture- especially when it comes to slouching.


Studies dating back to 1996 1 have demonstrated that slouching while sitting or standing plays a role in progressive disc degeneration.

More commonly referred to as lumbar degenerative disc disease (DDD), the causes are multi-factorial, while slouching on its own is unlikely to cause DDD, it can be a significant contributing factor.

Symptoms of DDD may be familiar to some: consistent “low-grade” pain that flares up when performing certain motions or activities; pain that shoots down the leg (sciatica); relief of pain when lying down in a reclining position; relief of pain when knees are elevated

Being seated loads your lumbar spinal discs by more than 3 times compared to standing. Poor posture exacerbates these stresses.

Slouching for prolonged periods of time also loads and strains the iliolumbar ligaments.

A strained iliolumbar ligament can make it uncomfortable to sit (regardless of position), kneel, or to stand up. Pain can be ongoing, intermittent, or episodic.


Many of the same stresses that slouching places on your lumbar spine are carried upward to your neck.

Slouching increases the perceived weight of your head

You may not realize it, but your neck and upper spine have to keep your head upright all day and night. It’s safe to say that a fair amount of stress is placed on them consistently, as they bear the weight of your head until you lie down.

When you start to huddle forwards — which is exactly what we do when slouching — you change the physical dynamic between your head, neck, and cervical spine.

Every 2.5cm of forward positioning adds approximately 3.5kg of additional load to the neck.

This additional load fatigues your shoulder and upper back muscles, causing muscular imbalances, and also contributes to spinal disc compression.

A compressed disc can impinge nerves, restrict movement, and cause significant pain. In the case where nerves are impinged, pain may radiate into the arms and lower back.


Simply put: a slouching position creates an environment where your shoulder blades are no longer in proper alignment.

Known as the scapulae, they drift apart to the sides of the rib cage when sitting slouched. Over time, this leads to weakness of the posterior shoulder muscles, tightness of the anterior shoulder muscles and a multitude of conditions that can include impinged nerves, restriction in range of motion, and rotator cuff dysfunctions.


A study published in Manual Therapy 3-found that the shoulder range of motion is significantly greater when exercising proper posture.

This is because your shoulders are in better alignment, allowing the rotator cuff to properly function; when your shoulders are misaligned, they can pinch against the acromion — the bony part of the scapula (shoulder blade).

Shoulder impingement symptoms include; difficulty raising arms above your head; difficulty reaching behind your back; pain when twisting or extending your arm; weakness in the affected shoulder extending down into the arm

Proper posture is more an exercise in habit than it is anything else. Once you form new habits, it becomes much easier to consistently exercise good posture.


Original Article:

Author: NELLIE NTHIGA, BDM, C&P Health Centre