Aside from flowing off the tongue nicely due to some awesome alliteration, is there any link between back pain and bad posture? The correct answer is yes. The correct answer is also no.

The No Argument

In general, it is hard to specifically pinpoint any cause of back pain. Even structural injuries to the spine, such as stenosis, fail to be good statistical indicators of an increased likelihood of pain. One person will experience extreme pain, while another person will be asymptomatic, despite having nearly identical structural health. To compound that confusion, it is almost impossible to measure posture. Since correct posture is not a static pose but rather efficiently moving through life, there is no one test that can effectively rank someone’s overall posture compared to others. We know, we’ve tried. This leaves us with no highly convincing evidence that back pain and bad posture are linked.

The Yes Argument

So why was a connection made and why do so many medical experts continue to support one? Any answer to that on my part is speculation, but here goes. 1) It makes sense. 2) Numerous anecdotal stories suggest a link, and a significant one at that. 3) Posture training is essentially zero risk – both financially and physiologically.

  1. It makes sense. Moving inefficiently (with bad posture) by definition is an increase of the stresses imposed on the musculoskeletal system. It then follows that increased stress can lead to a recurring overuse injury or the development of chronic conditions through a gradual process of wear and tear. It is especially logical to link poor posture and biomechanics with back pain that is worse after certain activities, such as sports, work, or even bending over.
  2. Physicians, physical therapists, athletic trainers and the like all have personal experience with people who saw significant improvement in their pain by improving their posture and biomechanics. You can check out our testimonials page for success story after remarkable success story for the ActivAided posture training shirt alone.
  3. It is essentially zero risk. Posture training can be done by almost everyone with little to no physiological risk or financial cost. Because of that, it is often recommended to individuals whose current alternative is invasive surgery or treatments. For them, the “can’t hurt” mentality is all they need for posture training to be an appealing alternative.

These are all important points, and none of them seem to have much rebuttal even among skeptics. So although the medical community emphasizes statistical significance and strong demonstrated results, in this case it is understood why there are no definitive clinical trials published in peer review journals. There is no one test that identifies someone’s overall posture “rank”. Pelvic tilts, or even the degree of the spinal curvature are only measured at one point in time, and don’t really say anything about how efficiently the body is working. Using an EMG to measure which muscles are firing, and how active they are, is more telling, but extremely limited in scope. They can only be used in controlled settings, not in the real world under normal circumstances. On top of that, back pain is extremely common yet known to be difficult to generalize. We have not even been able to effectively link structural injuries with likelihood of back pain. As a result, medical experts are somewhat okay with basing their recommendations solely on what makes sense, even without statistical significance. Especially when there is little to no risk to their patients.

How to Start Posture Training

If you fall into the “worth a shot” category, or even just “why not,” check out our Guide to Great Posture. It can be your first step towards working to correct your posture. If you’re completely on board and ready to experience back pain relief,  learn more about ActivAided posture training. You can shop confidently with our 30 day money back guarantee. Order and try the RecoveryAid posture shirt for 30 days. If you are unhappy with it for any reason during that time, you can return it for a full refund. We are confident that you too will become a success story. And like you, if it helps, we don’t mind if it’s “just anecdotal.”