What Causes Bad Posture?

Causes of Poor Posture Revealed

What Causes Bad Posture?

If you have bad posture, what have you done to fix it? Many people - not knowing what they're dealing with other than what they see in the mirror  - try lots of things at once: Exercise, massage, chiropractic,yoga, holistic therapies, workstation modifications, and even a trip to the doctor.

Good posture is a form of fitness in which the muscles of the body support the skeleton in an alignment that is stable as well as efficient during movement.

Related: Posture Definition

Unfortunately, there are numerous factors encountered in life that can get in the way of good posture. For many of us, bad posture is the consequence of dealing with gravity on a day to day basis. For others, it comes about from an injury, a disease or via genetics - i.e., the things that for the most part, you can't control.

While lifestyle changes and/or medical treatment can certainly be helpful, determining which are appropriate for you to try is best based on an awareness of the underlying problem. (Note:  In some situations, this may involve getting a diagnosis from your doctor.)

Here are 7 possible reasons why you may have bad posture.


Back muscle spasm getting you down?
Back muscle spasm getting you down?. Anne Asher

After an injury, nearby muscles begin to guard the vulnerable area. Muscles adjacent to an injury work in a diminished way to keep the affected part stable and free from re-injury. This is a necessary function, but it causes those muscles to weaken. The imbalance between muscles that guard an injury and normal, working muscles can cause abberations in body posture.

Related: Back Spasm Quick Fix Exercise Program


Disease and Nutritional State

Vegetables for a healthy diet
Vegetables for a healthy diet. Andrea Mainardi/EyeEm/Getty Images

The continued presence of disease, dehydration and/or malnutrition lead to conditions that directly affect your musculoskeletal system. These structures provide the strength and flexibility needed for body support and movement, so keeping them nourished may be one component of good posture development.


Computer worker diagram shows desk height, hip and knee angles and more.
Desk height should be level with your comfortable elbows. Andy Zito/Illustration Works/Getty Images

When you have muscle weakness, tension or muscle imbalance, your body will likely find ways to accommodate them.

Getting to your intended goal is negotiated using alternate, but less efficient patterns of muscle contraction and stretch. In this way, the body still gets to its goal, but with a comprised alignment.

You might understand this process as a sort of detour.  If you encounter an obstacle in the road while driving, you'd probably swerve to miss it but also to keep going towards your destination.  The musculoskeletal system -  in tandem with the nervous system - also develops detours; this is to allow you to complete the intended movement even though some muscles and joints may not be contributing fully or working with teamwork.

Muscle Tension and Muscle Weakness

Woman does neck exercise
Woman does neck exercise. photography33

Just as in the case of an injury, if the body has areas that are extra weak and/or strong, it will not be held upright against gravity in the most effective manner. This will cause poor posture and pain.

Mental Attitude and Stress

Stress can lead to a decrease in full breathing, which in turn compensates body posture, as the two are often inextricably linked.

Heredity and Genetics

Genetics. Atomic Imagery/DigitalVision/Getty Images
Sometimes it's just in the genes!

Shoe Choice and The Way You Wear Them

Stiletto Heel
Stilettos and other high heeled shoes may do damage to your low back. lucydphoto/Moment/Getty Images

Clothing, and especially shoes can affect posture.Heels throw your body weight forward which can easily catapult you into misalignment.

And if you wear down the outside of the shoes faster than the inside (because of your usual weight-bearing habits)  imbalanced kinetic forces will likely be translated up your ankle, knee, hip and low back.  This may lead to pain or bad posture in any of these joints as well as your lumbar spine.