One statement I have regularly used in reference to back pain is, “We are starting a new epidemic of poor posture and there is concern it is contributing to a lot of spinal pain/issues.” Some may question this line of thinking, because there is this general thought or need that there has to be some underlying mechanical problem whether due to heredity or trauma. This statement may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. At our clinic we are seeing more patients often in their teens for back pain and after an extensive workup no structural abnormalities are found; however, they respond to physical therapy and proper posture techniques.
I remember my parents telling me to sit up straight and keep my elbows off the table. At the time, it seemed more manner-related than spinal protective, but in retrospect maintaining good posture gives your body a fighting chance to prevent chronic degradation or remodeling. Take a look at the trees here in SE Idaho, due to wind and other stressors often their trunk is not perfectly straight, so they compensate by remodeling and changing the curve to best support the overall mass. The same concept can be applied to human race when we are constantly engaged in one position, such as sitting or standing in one place.
We have long recognized that repetitive hand movements such as typing or working on an assembly can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, so too slouching in a chair, leaning over a computer and constantly looking down at a cell phone can cause neck/back pain. The problem appears to be increased with time, which is very concerning, considering the next generation-- -they have essentially had cell phones or computers most of their lives. This is not to say that posture is the only cause of back pain, just that it appears to be a risk. Furthermore, it is a modifiable risk, meaning that you are in control of making the proper changes, and there do not appear to be any side-effects. So, when in doubt, sit and stand up straight. *Ideas taken from Harvard Health Publications: Posture and Back Health http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/06/08/412314701/lost-posture- why-indigenous-cultures-dont-have-back-pain Disc Degeneration with Osteophytes https://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/spinal_bone_spurs/disc_degeneration/