New Evidence to Support the Protective effect of Good Posture.


The Undesirable Flat Back.

This posture flattens the lumbar lordosis. The red line represents the loss of lumbar lordosis (flat back).
We tend to adopt this posture each time we sit down and with time, we flatten and stiffen our backs, ending up with back pain and sciatica.

The Protective Curve of Good Posture.

This posture maintains the lumbar lordosis, as represented by the green curve. There is mounting evidence to show that the lumbar lordosis helps to maintain healthy discs. This posture does not come naturally, since we spend so much time sitting, which encourages slouching. But, by developing a habit of being “posturally-aware”, we can keep our backs in good condition without it costing a bean.

A Brazilian group of researchers compared the shape of young people’s lumbar spines and their MRIs. None of the 70 people aged between 20-40 years old had back pain.

The group found that the people with flatter backs were more likely to have worn discs, especially at the L4/5 level.

The team concluded that their findings supported the idea that when the spine is less curved (less lordotic), then more force is placed on the fronts of the shock-absorbing discs, instead of a more uniform loading when the lumbar spine has a natural curve, or lordosis. The team felt that the flatter back causes the eccentric forces to wear the shock-absorbing discs prematurely, an observation published in earlier reports.

The pictures below are taken from an earlier publication which supports yoga, but demonstrates a clear association between disc degeneration (worn discs) and a flatter back/ loss of lumbar lordosis. Read on…

The picture on the left is an MRI scan of a fit and well 50 year old lady who has no back pain. The spine looks like a ladder, with the rungs made by the shock-absorbing discs. The bottom of the picture is the sacrum and the top of the picture is the mid-spine, at a level just below the tips of the shoulder blades. The yellow arrows are pointing to the three lowest discs, called L3/4, L4/5 and L5/S1. The bottom two discs are darker than the rest, which reflects their dryness and signs of wear. Note the overall shape of the spine in this picture- it’s pretty straight. This may sound like a good thing, but actually, it means that the natural undulating curves of the spine have straightened out and the spine will tend to rely more on the discs as shock absorbers, rather than its overall shape.

This picture on the left is an MRI of a fit and well 50 year old lady who has no back pain and does yoga regularly. Look at the shape of the spine- it has a gentle curve called a lordosis. This flexible, well-used spine is capable of absorbing repetitive loads which occur with everday activities like walking and the spine does not need to rely as much on its shock-absorbing discs. The discs are well-preserved and there is virtually no wear in any of them. Remarkable!

Yoga paper link to full article