Woman demonstrating a variety of postures

Can Chiropractic Improve Posture?

The answer is yes, but probably not in the way that you think. Every day people visit the chiropractor to improve posture, but most misunderstand the methods in how this is achieved. First, we need to understand a few things: what is good and bad posture? What are the misconceptions patients have about how chiropractic improves posture? How is good posture actually and scientifically improved? We will explore these questions in this article.

What is Good and Bad Posture?

We must first realize that there is not a single perfect posture. We don't all fit into the same exact mold. It is more of a range that is affected by a patient's individual factors. For example, age, degree of spinal degeneration, previous injuries, and congenital factors all play in a role in posture and how significantly we can change or affect it. So what does good and bad posture look like? Let's take a look at the image below.

The first three figures on the left are examples of some common poor postures that we see in everyday life, while the last posture on the right is the ideal posture we try to achieve. You'll notice two words on the image you may not recognize: lordosis and kyphosis. These words describe the natural curves in the spine. In the neck (cervical spine) and in the low back (lumbar spine), we have natural arches that we call lordosis. In the mid back (thoracic spine) the curve angles in the other direction. We call this a kyphosis. Your spine is not a straight line (or shouldn't be). Let's analyze each posture pictured above.


  1. In the first posture, labeled "Lumbar Lordosis" we are seeing an excessive lumbar curve. Some curve is normal, but in this image the pelvis is now tilted forward, causing unnatural curves in the rest of the spine. This can be caused by weak abdominal muscles, tight low back muscles, and tight hip flexor muscles. It is common for people with this posture to experience low back pain.
  2. In the second posture, labeled "Thoracic Kyphosis" we are seeing an excessive thoracic curve. This causes the head to project forward in front of the rest of the body. This can be caused by weak mid-back muscles and tight chest muscles. This is a common poor posture of the desk worker or student, who spends hours sitting every day. Another common feature of this posture is that the arms turn inward, so that the back of the hands are facing forward. This is particularly common when the patient has tight chest muscles.
  3. In the third posture, labeled "Forward Head" we are seeing an insufficient cervical curve. This person does not have a lordosis in their neck and appears as a relatively straight line, even though it's projecting forward in front of the body. This can be caused by weak neck and upper back muscles. This posture is also typical of the desk worker. Another example of this posture occurring temporarily is someone who was in a car accident and experienced whiplash. They typically have a straightening of their neck. We also commonly see a combination of posture two and three in the same person existing simultaneously.
  4. In the fourth posture, we are seeing what an ideal posture looks like. You will notice in this posture there is a red line bisecting the model's body. In an ideal posture, this line should intersect with four key points: Starting at the ear hole and drawing a line straight down to the floor, you should cross the middle of the shoulder, the middle of the hip, the middle of the knee, and the middle of the ankle. When these landmarks are stacked vertically on top of each other, we can consider this good posture.

How Do We Improve Our Posture?

Three women wearing devices that supposedly correct posture

So how do we actually manage to make positive changes to our posture? This is where we see some wild and crazy ideas, but the real solution is simple. First, we increase range of motion in the joints with chiropractic adjusting. Then, we lengthen and stretch muscles to keep them from tightening up and pulling you back into poor postures. Finally, and this is the big one, strengthening muscles in the back and core to retain this good posture naturally, and not relapsing into bad posture again.

I said the solution was simple, not easy. Kind of like losing weight. The concept is simple: eat fewer calories than you burn. It doesn't make it easy to do. It requires time, commitment, and discipline to maintain over a lifetime. Maintaining good posture is the same way. We've seen lots of people ask about posture devices, inversion tables, among other things, and there's no shortcuts when it comes to making real changes.

That's Where We Come In

We are well-suited to take you through every step of the way. A posture improvement program containing the three steps outlined above can be achieved in our office, and we can show you simple exercises that can be done at home in just a few minutes. The combination of our treatment and your commitment to the home exercise program can improve your posture for the long term. If you have any questions about improving posture or how we can help you with your quality of life goals to improve your activities of daily living, don't hesitate to reach out to our office.