sailors-570024_1920Several of us who have been to physical therapy know how much of an emphasis physical therapists place on posture, and for good reason too. How we position our back decides whether our body is placed into optimal alignment which can help offload sore muscles and joints through our trunk, shoulders, and neck.

Correct posture can be hard to get used to for those who normally have a slouched position. Our postural stabilizing muscles in the neck, shoulders and low back can be weak, stretched out, and often go unused. Not only can it be a challenge to hold good posture due to muscle fatigue, but it can also be difficult because we are so accustomed to not holding ourselves in an upright position. Our bodies often find a habitual happy place in which we are more comfortable holding our regular slouched position because of the fact that we are not used to holding ourselves in good posture. These two issues make it a challenge to hold the classic military posture.

In military posture, shoulders are back, the chest is out, and the head is upright. This postural technique is often used in re-training an individual to hold good posture. However, for individuals with low back pain, this may not be the proper form to use right away. Often times, this movement pattern can aggravate or prolong our symptoms

The most common ailment between individuals with low back pain are local muscle tightness and soreness, joint restrictions in the spine, and decreased range of motion. Listed below are the common problems that are associated with attempting military posture.

  • Military posture involves over-extension through our lumbar spine. This can cause overloading of our upper body weight through our facet joints (spine joints) that are not made to bear a lot of our upper body weight.
  • This posture can lead to uncontrollable small movements (joint shearing) through the joints of our spine. This is more likely to happen when holding a military posture during walking, running, bending, and lifting.
  • Maintaining an upright position puts a lot of strain on our low back! If these muscles are already tight and sore from low back pain, think of what will happen to them if they are asked to work even harder to maintain this posture.

So what is the proper posture technique for the maintenance of your lower back’s health?

Gregory S. Johnson, PT, FFFMT, FAAOMPT, and Vicky Saliba Johnson, PT, FFFMT, FAAOMPT, founders of the Institute of Physical Art, have developed a postural technique that focuses on trunk and pelvic positioning. In this position, the trunk is “stacked” on top of the pelvis and lower extremities. This postural technique allows the lumbar spine to be in a neutral position, it keeps low back extensor muscles (the muscles that have to work to keep us upright in a military position) in a relaxed state, and it automatically engages our deep core muscles to activate and support our lumbar spine.

If experiencing low back pain, this technique allows for off-loading of tight and aggravating muscles which encourages healing, places the emphasis of load-bearing through the proper regions of the spinal bones and joints, and allows for a stabilized position through the spine.

For more information on this postural technique, locate a physical therapy clinic in which the therapists are trained in practices from the Institute of Physical Art.