Proper posture can help create a sense of poise and confidence. It can also help protect you against more health problems than you might imagine. 

Improved posture can help mitigate symptoms from neck and back aches to serious health problems like repetitive stress injuries, disc degeneration, and even respiratory issues.1

If you’ve been wondering how to identify the different types of posture and find out if you have good posture, keep scrolling. We’re going to break down the 5 postural types, along with the causes, symptoms, and treatments for poor  posture problems.

What Are the 5 Posture Types?

Different types of posture can have many causes. They can start at birth, for example if you were born with one leg shorter than the other, or a spinal deformity. They may be the result of disease or injury. 

But for many of us, the root cause of our postural type is our lifestyle. Your posture can be affected by monitor height ergonomics or even the way you hold your mouse. Luckily, these poor posture problems are preventable and usually very treatable with some simple changes to your routine. 

Let’s look at all 5 postural types and the health impacts related to each.

#1 Healthy Posture

It’s just what it sounds like: This is the ideal postural type to avoid back and neck pain and joint problems.2 

To understand a healthy body posture, imagine a side view of your body. You should be able to draw a straight line starting at the crown of your head and going through the midline of your body all the way to the soles of your feet. The head should be level and in line with the center of the body, not jutting forward.3 The spinal cord should have three gentle curves:3 

  • A slight forward angle at the neck
  • A curve outward at the upper back
  • An inward curve at the lower back

#2 Kyphosis 

Kyphosis posture is indicated by a noticeable curve in your upper back, just below your neck. The shoulders slump forward, creating a hunchback effect.2

  • It often becomes more noticeable with age, especially in older women
  • Osteoporosis and degeneration of the vertebrae also cause kyphosis
  • Kyphosis usually doesn’t develop in younger people except in cases of certain diseases like polio, or as a result of undergoing cancer treatments like radiation or chemotherapy

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#3 Flat Back

Flatback occurs when your lower spine is less curved than it should be. This causes the upper half of your body to stoop. If you notice pain in your lower back while standing for long periods, you may have flatback posture. You might also notice back pain and a feeling of fatigue or weakness in the legs.2

Flatback can occur as a result of disease, like disc degeneration and certain types of arthritis, or after back surgery. It can also be present from birth.2 

#4 Swayback

Swayback posture is identified by the hips and pelvis extending too far forward. The lower back arches steeply inward, causing the stomach to thrust forward. 

Swayback can be caused by too much time spent in seated positions, which causes your abdominal muscles to become too weak to support your spine in a healthy position. Your back muscles tighten and shorten, while your abdominal muscles become weak, allowing the spinal cord to push forward.2

Other causes can include:

  • Injury
  • Neuromuscular conditions
  • Spinal abnormalities
  • Obesity

#5 Head Forward

Here’s the posture problem many of us are suffering from today. A head forward posture is often caused by lifestyle—namely, spending hours a day hunched over computer screens or scrolling our phones.3 

You might also hear this body posture referred to as “text neck” or “tech neck.” Doctors and physical therapists are seeing a rapid increase in problems related to craning the neck too far past the midline of the body.4

It may not seem like a big difference, but angling your head past the midline of your body for long periods puts an incredible strain on your spine and neck muscles.

Tech Neck

Though not a type of posture, tech neck is still something worth considering if you’re hoping to improve your overall wellness with proper posture.

Imagine holding a bag of groceries. If your arm hangs straight at your side, the weight is evenly distributed, and your muscles aren’t doing much work to hold it. You could hold it for a long while without fatigue. 

Now, imagine lifting that bag up just a few degrees. The weight of the bag didn’t change, but the strain on your arm muscles is much higher. 

The work your neck does supporting your head is similar. When your head is centered over your body, your neck muscles are holding up about ten pounds. As you tilt your head forward, to look at your phone or computer, every few degrees of tilt increases the effective weight of your head by many pounds. Angling your head at a 45 degree angle increases the weight of your head to a whopping 49 pounds, putting unnecessary pressure on your neck.2

What Kind of Posture Do You Have?

To test whether you stand with a healthy posture, you can try the wall test:3

  1. Stand with your back to a wall, with your heels 2 to 4 inches in front of it. Your head, shoulder blades, and rear end should touch the wall.
  2. Now, place one hand between the wall and the curve of your back, with your palm towards the wall. 
  3. The space between your back and the wall should be about the depth of your flat hand. If it’s a squeeze to fit your hand, the arch of your back may be too flat. If the space is larger than your hand, you may be arching your back too much.

Symptoms of Bad Posture

There are some common signs of a problem with posture developing. If you work at a desk job, you may already be noticing some of them. Pay attention to signs such as:1

  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet
  • Neck stiffness and aching
  • Back ache
  • Jaw tension and soreness
  • Headache

Other symptoms are more subtle and may require a doctor’s diagnosis, such as eye strain, difficulty breathing, and poor circulation.1 Long-term, some types of posture problems can even lead to higher mortality rates.2 

How Do You Correct Posture Problems?

Postural problems are extremely common, and there are many simple steps you can take to correct your postural type.4 

Be aware of your posture – Note when your head is past the midline of your body and pull it back. Check in with your body frequently while working, noting aches and stiffness that are signaling it’s time for a change in position.

  • Change position frequently – Keep this in mind not just when working at your desk, but also when relaxing with your phone. Use armrests or a pillow to support your arms and hold your phone up at eye level.3
  • Take frequent breaks Every 30 minutes to an hour, stand up from your desk to increase circulation. Rotate your head and roll your shoulders.
  • Try Bruegger exercises4 – This is a simple arm and shoulder stretch you can perform in your desk chair. Sit at the edge of your chair, with your arms extended to the sides and behind your body. With palms facing upward, move your shoulder blades toward each other. Keep your head centered over your body. Hold for 30 seconds, remembering to breathe. Repeat several times.

How to Avoid Posture Problems At the Office

A good workstation should allow plenty of adjustments to your chair, desk height, and monitor height. An adjustable sit-to-stand desk is ideal to allow the most flexibility in posture while working.

Check your desk posture — When seated at your desk, look for these points:

  • Feet should be flat on the floor or on a footrest

  • Knees should be at a 90 degree angle, without pressure on the back of your thighs and with a gap between your knees and the edge of your seat

  • Top of the monitor should be at eye level or slightly below

  • Shoulders should be relaxed, with forearms parallel to the floor

If you work from home, it’s tempting to work from your bed or the couch. But over the long term, the health problems caused by unhealthy posture are much more costly than setting up a properly equipped home office. Ergonomically correct furniture can even be a tax writeoff in some cases—your doctor may be able to provide a letter verifying the medical need for an upgrade to your workspace.4

Healthy Posture Starts at the Office with Juniper

Bad posture can lead to problems ranging from a stiff neck or tight muscles to chronic, long-term health issues that seriously impact your quality of life. Luckily, with a few simple stretches and some changes to your routine, you can head off this problem before it becomes serious.

  • Remember to take frequent breaks from working at your computer or looking at your phone

  • Change positions and your viewing angle frequently while scrolling your phone

  • Make sure your workstation at home or the office is set up ergonomically

Setting up an ideal posture-friendly work environment can be quick and easy with Juniper Office. Our free 3-D office space planning and design service will have you working in comfort in no time, whether you’re revamping your home office or designing a workspace for your entire team. Contact us today and take the first step to a healthier office.


Sources: 

  1. Spine Health. Poor Posture and Its Effects on the Body. https://spinehealth.org/poor-posture-and-its-effects-on-the-body/ 
  2. Healthline. The 4 Main Types of Posture. https://www.healthline.com/health/bone-health/the-4-main-types-of-posture 
  3. Mayo Clinic. Good Posture TIps. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076817?
  4. Healthline. 4 Simple Tips to Avoid Developing ‘Tech Neck’ During COVID-19. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/4-simple-tips-to-avoid-developing-tech-neck-during-covid-19