Mom Was Right, Sitting Up Straight Is Important. But Why Is It So Hard

Mom was right when she told you to sit up straight. Remember all those times when you were slouching as a kid, and your mother asked you to sit up tall? Mom knows best, and she knew that slouching puts incredible stress and strain on your spine and shoulders. Sit up straight, and you’ll be keeping these structures in the best position possible to prevent pain and movement dysfunction.

So why is it so hard to sit up straight?

Understanding posture--and the importance of maintaining proper posture--can help you move better and feel better. And understanding the basic anatomy of your spine and how it moves can answer the question of why it is so hard to maintain perfect posture.

Anatomy of Your Spine

Your spinal column is made up of bones that are stacked upon one another. Between each bone is a disc--soft spongy material that acts as a shock absorber between the bones. The bones protect your spinal cord and allow for normal motion to occur. Several ligaments hold one bone to another, and muscular attachments move your spine.

When viewing your spine from the side, you should notice some natural curves. In the upper, or cervical, spine, there is a forward curve called a lordosis. Your thoracic spine, the middle part, has a rounded curve called a kyphosis. There is another forward curve in your low back, or lumbar spine. These curves maintain your spine in the best position possible for functional movement. Loss of these curves--primarily while sitting--can lead to abnormal motion, excessive stress and strain, and pain.

Attaining and maintaining proper posture can be your key to pain-free motion.

Why Do People Slouch?

Since we understand how important attaining and maintaining proper posture is, you would think that it should be easy to sit up tall. So why do people slouch?

Bottom line: slouching is easy. It takes very little effort to slouch or sit with poor posture.

When you are sitting, your muscles have to work to consistently keep your spine upright. Remember those curves from our anatomy lesson? Maintaining them in the proper position takes effort, and our bodies simply do not have the endurance to maintain upright posture at all times. Gravity simply takes over, our muscles relax, and our spines fall into a position of poor posture. But this slouching places excessive stress on our joints, muscles, and spinal discs, leading to painful conditions and dysfunctional movement.

The Negative Effects of Consistently Poor Posture

We all slouch from time to time; maintaining proper posture 100% of the time is difficult, if not impossible. But consistently sitting or standing with poor posture can have negative consequences.

Various conditions that may be attributed to poor posture may include:

  • Back pain or sciatica
  • Bulging or herniated spinal discs
  • Shoulder pain
  • Hip pain
  • Knee or ankle pain

Since poor posture can be a very important variable in so many different painful conditions, finding ways to correct your posture should be a top priority in your life.

Take Action To Correct Your Posture

So people slouch because sitting up straight is hard to do. It takes work and effort to counteract the force of gravity and to maintain upright sitting posture. So what can you do?

First, when sitting you must use a supportive device that helps to maintain the correct alignment of your spine. It should be comfortable, but still provide enough support to maintain the position of your spinal curves.  (Or you could purchase my posture support invention: The Posture PT... Hint Hint)

Second, be sure to exercise regularly. Keeping muscles and joints moving well in all directions can help you easily attain and maintain proper posture. A visit with your physical therapist can help determine which exercises are best for you to do.

Finally, find ways to consistently remind yourself to sit with proper posture. Set an alarm, and when it rings, sit up tall. Taking the time to consistently sit with proper posture can help you maintain a pain-free lifestyle.


Brendan Ridings
Corrective Exercise Specialist &
Inventor Of The Posture PT (Don't be afraid to reach out with questions... I would love to speak with you!)


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