By Doctor Rosemarie Jabbour (Chiropractor)
I wrote this article to give you as much information as possible about sway back posture, from a chiropractic point of view.
Many people who experience sway back posture may develop tight muscles and stiff joints, especially around the shoulders, spine, pelvis and legs.
Read on to find out more about this common posture problem and how you can begin to address it today.
The Importance of Good Posture
Did your mum ever tell you to sit up straight and to watch your posture? Guess what - she was right!
Good posture is vital to living a healthy and pain free life as your body is in its natural alignment and can function at optimal levels.
You are strongest when your body is aligned with your head directly above your shoulders, your shoulders above your hips and your hips directly above your feet.
Our Top 5 Reasons Why Good Posture is Important
You look, feel and act more confident
Good posture takes pressure off your lungs (bad posture reduces lung vital function) and breathing becomes easier and deeper
Good posture decreases abnormal wear and tear on joints
Healthy spine equals optimal health
When your muscles, joints and ligaments are working as nature intended, your vital organs and the nervous system are able to function normally
However, simply sitting up straight will not give you good posture, especially if you have underlying structural issues, such as sway back posture.
5 Bad Postures to Watch For
Over time, poor posture (including lumbar lordosis, thoracic kyphosis, flat back, sway back, scoliosis and forward head posture), put extra pressure and stress on your spine, shoulders, hips, and knees. These degenerative postures cause or contribute to the following health problems:
- Back pain
- Hip pain
- Knee pain
- Headaches and migraines
- Reduction in vital organ function (including reduction in lung capacity)
- Overly tight muscles in some areas
- Weak muscles in other areas
- Irritability or general feelings of discomfort
- Pain when running or exercising
So, now that we have covered the posture basics, let's learn more about a very troublesome posture: sway back posture.
What is Sway Back Posture?
You can see in Image 2 above, the second last outline d) sway back posture, a structural representation of sway back posture.
Sway back posture, also called hyperlordosis, is setup by tight hamstring muscles pulling the hips out of alignment, weaker muscles such as the glutes and hip flexors not being able to hold a strong posture, and a forward positioning of your hips/pelvis infront of your centre of gravity.
You can observe sway back posture by looking for the following posture indicators:
- Tilted pelvis
- Pelvis positioned forward of your centre of gravity
- Noticeably tight hamstring muscles
- Forward head posture
- Upper back curvature
- Sunken chest
These indicators are all visible in Image 3.
Can you relate to any of these or do you see your posture in one of the above images?
As a consequence of your pelvis being pulled forward, your upper body changes position in what's called a compensatory adaption. Your head, upper back and chest shift away from normal alignment into this new compensatory position, creating a new set of structural problems.
Sway Back: problems associated with tight hamstrings
- Tight hamstrings pull the pelvis out of alignment
- Extra stress and pressure is placed on your back, contributing to back pain
- Other concerns include disc degeneration, nerve interference and bulging discs
Sway Back: problems associated with forward head posture
- Headaches and migraines
- Neck tension and tight muscles
- Stress on the spinal cord and nervous system
- Feelings of irritability and discomfort
Sway Back: problems associated with a curved upper back
- Development of a hunch
- Reduction in natural height
- Tight chest muscles
- Weaker upper back muscles
Sway Back: problems associated with sunken chest
- Reduction in internal organ vital capacity
- Difficulty breathing
- Tight, shortened chest muscles
Who Gets Sway Back Posture?
I have found that sway back posture is common in runners, ballerinas and people who sit or work in sedentary jobs. It may also appear in older adults due weakening of the gluteal muscles with age. Having said that, a lot of people are prone to similar posture problems across the board.
In addition, those patients who come into clinic in chronic pain frequently present with sway back posture, or a related poor posture.
Treatment Options for Sway Back Posture
To fix your pain, look to your posture
Possible underlying structural issues need to be addressed to correct poor posture. If you're crooked on the outside chances are you will be crooked on the inside. Addressing postural problems takes time and there are no quick fixes. This is especially true the longer you have had bad posture.
Consider the following options:
- A thorough chiropractic exam and check up can determine if the cause of your pain and poor posture is from an underlying structural misalignment
- A series of chiropractic adjustments aim to increase joint range of motion, increase flexibility, take pressure of the nervous system and restore a more normal alignment to your spine and pelvis
- Specific stretches, exercises and other forms of manual therapy tailored to address the problems associated with sway back posture also help
- Soft tissue therapy to relax tight muscles
- Ongoing coaching and advice to help you adopt better posture habits including at work, at home, while driving and when sleeping
Other Things You can do to Help
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach
- Improve posture at home and work
- Choose ergonomic office chairs and sit properly behind a computer
- Adjust your car seat to provide maximum support to your lower back
- Try functional training to engage and activate a wider variety of functional muscles
What About a Sway Back Brace?
A sway back posture brace may help train your body to sit up straight. This works in combination with posture exercises that help to strengthen your core, back muscles and shoulder muscles to help your body return to a more normal posture.
At New World Chiro we offer patients a unique traction station, called the Universal Traction System, built specific to help correct bad postures, address muscle imbalances while at the same time training your body to sit up straight. This traction stations works in a similar way to a sway back posture brace.
The system is unique in that is consists of a series of straps, harnesses, pullies and bands that are attached to small weights.
It may benefit those who have severely limited extension or forward head posture, muscle imbalances, as well as anyone who wants to improve their posture.
The principle behind the system is based on chiropractic biophysics: aimed at changing spinal structure while improving postural mechanics, strengthening muscles and reducing pain. You can ask us more about sway back posture braces and traction by contacting us.
Improve Posture Today
It's never too late to take better care of your spine and body. To book a chiropractic consultation at New World Chiro please phone or email us today.