Back Pain, Posture and Muscle Imbalance

Back Pain Causes and Postural Problems

Postural problems are usually the result of incorrect alignment or prolonged positions, which can then lead to muscle imbalances. When you are seated for a large percentage of time certain muscles will become shortened in length. When a muscle is shorter than the optimal length, it not only affects the opposing muscle, which get loose and weak, but can have repercussions on the entire musculoskeletal system.There are 360 joints, 206 bones and about 640 muscles in the average human body. No part of your body moves independently. Even the smallest movement requires the coordination of various muscles and joints. Your muscles are consistently working to keep your body stable and upright. This is generally known as posture.

Most postural muscle imbalances are due to sedentary lifestyles and I want to especially talk about the typical office worker who sits for long hours working in front of a computer. Such postural problems could potentially lead to neck pain, headaches, upper back pain, lower back pain or sciatica. The following are some examples of how these occur.


Due to today’s modern age of computers, workers are drawn in towards their computer screens, keyboards and mouse’s. As a result the shoulders become rounded, the back becomes hunched and the head and neck are protruded forward.

When the shoulders are rounded this causes tightness through the chest muscles and furthermore the muscles in your upper/ mid back and around your shoulder blades become lengthened and weak.  Over time these muscle imbalances can cause your spine to become excessively curved with hunch back posture problems. This can lead to pain in the back, neck, and in some cases down the arms.

Forward head posture also becomes more pronounced from hunching due to the spinal curve having to compensate. Forward head posture develops from computer use due to the strain to read what is on the computer screen. As a result the muscles through the front of the neck and at the base of the skull become tight which can further lead to neck pain and headaches.



Another common problem from sitting too long is tight hip flexors due to having the hips flexed for a prolonged period of time. The resulting effects of this are: the pelvis rotates forward, the lumbar spine then becomes excessively arched tightening the lower back and furthermore the abdominal muscles become loose and weak. The primary hip extensors or glut muscles (bum muscles) also become lengthened and weak as a result. To compensate for the increase in spinal curve in the lumbar spine the thoracic spine becomes more rounded or hunched and forward head posture also develops further.

Sitting for long periods can also cause chronic hamstring tightness due to the knees being bent for a prolonged period. There are a few posture problems associated with tight hamstrings. If the hip flexors are tight and the glut muscles are weakened then the hamstrings will become your primary hip extensor, which is not its normal role and can therefore not stabilize the pelvis as well during movement. As a result this can lead to possible injuries such as sciatica, disc injuries and lower back pain.


Poor posture places additional strain and stress on the muscles, ligaments, joints and discs of the back. Over time this additional strain to structural changes to the discs, muscles and ligaments surrounding the spine. These changes or imbalances are what usually causes back pain. Poor posture is also sometimes due to inherent factors or bio mechanical factors (i.e. leg length discrepancy).

Continue Reading… How to improve your posture 

 Osteopaths at Mosaic Health can help you. Call us today to relieve your back pain

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4 Responses to “Back Pain, Posture and Muscle Imbalance”

  1. Sam December 27, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Hi Admin,
    I am just wondering how on earth you claim there are 360 joints in
    the human body ! , according to science there are only a 100 to 230 joints. .
    Are you guys trying to make things complicated !

    • admin January 13, 2012 at 2:35 am #

      Hi Sam,

      yes it does make things a little complicated. Although there are 206 bones, there are 360 joints in the human body. There are 86 skull joints, 6 throat joints, 66 thorax joints and 76 in your spine and pelvis. Also there are 32 in each upper limb and 31 in each lower limb. The skull is probably where a lot of the confusion lies, as even though the joints do not move very much, they do move to some degree. I hope this helps.



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