Many people often struggle with finding the right sitting or standing posture. Improper positioning can cause pain in their neck and back when sitting or standing for extended periods of time. There are many tricks or “body cues” we try as an attempt to make these situations better. The problem becomes that not every person sees results from the same cue. We all have different weaknesses, flexibilities, and strengths. This is why your co-worker’s suggestion to “pulling your shoulders back” or “pulling your abs in” may not be working for you.

Posture Cues and What They Target:

  1. “Pulling Your Shoulders Back” : This cue tells your body to target the muscles between the shoulder blades to stop the shoulders from rounding forward while sitting or standing. This is a big issue with desk jobs and using a computer. This cue can be tricky because your neck or back position may not change therefore it may not improve your overall posture. You may need to strengthen these muscles but improving the whole posture is needed to prevent that neck or back pain at 30 minutes at your desk.
  1. “Pull Your Abs/Core In” : This cue targets the abdominals to tighten the core and brace the low back and pelvis. This is often used in standing and during activities such as weight lifting or sports. By pulling in your core, you increased the overall pressure into the abdomen and “brace” the spine as a whole. This is where “too much” support can be not good. The spine needs to be controlled, not braced. If you move like a stiff person, your body will become stiff. This cue may also not change any muscle tension at the neck or shoulder that can still affect the back. This is also A LOT of work and is not sustainable throughout the day.
  1. “Walk/Run with the Knees or Feet Straight” : This is often what people try because of foot, knee, or hip pain when attempting to run or walking for long periods of time. Some have been told they have flat feet, weak glutes, or poor knee control. All or none of these issues can be true but may not be the ONLY problem causing pain. There too many moving pieces in these situations and this cue will not work for everyone. This can lead to people walking or running on the outsides of their feet, straining the muscles in the quads or hips, or causing back or neck pain from tensing up trying to change your running or walking posture.
  1. “Pull Up from Your Spine” : This cues the spinal muscles to help support from the pelvis to the neck primarily while sitting, standing, and even running. This can take pressure off the neck and low back muscles without having to tense the whole core. This can be helpful if there is nothing restricting your posture, such as tight muscles. If there is too much resistance from flexibility limitation, the body plays tug-of-war, making it difficult to achieve the right position, causing more frustration and discomfort.

Most of these cues have a purpose but a cue needs to improve the WHOLE posture or movement to be effective. This is where Physical Therapy can help you! Let us identify where your body is restricted from tight muscles, lacking movement control, and areas needing strength. We can improve the WHOLE YOU!

Call us at (206) 402-5483 for an appointment or schedule online at Let one of our therapist assess your individual needs to get you on the right track and better movement and less pain.