Posture vs alignment: what’s the difference?


It’s commonly understood that good or bad posture can have an effect on how you feel, your spinal health and your overall health. Much less common is a thorough understanding of alignment: what it is and how it affects your body.


Our chiropractor, chiropractor Dr Jessica Mangala, delves into alignment, posture and the differences between the two below.


What is posture?


Posture is behavioural and refers to a combination of muscles, reflexes and the natural position of your spine. We’ve talked in-depth about posture in a previous blog, but the main points to understand are:

  • Posture is about the position of your body – especially your spine – while sitting, sleeping, lifting and standing.

  • “Good posture” is about maintaining ideal spinal position as you go about life and correct ergonomics plays a huge part in it.

  • Your posture can be changed or affected by your behaviour, habits and injury which means you can make a conscious effort to improve posture by changing your behaviours



What is alignment?


Alignment, otherwise known as spinal sagittal alignment1, refers to biomechanical factors. The main points to understand about alignment are:

  • Alignment concerns things like pelvic tilt (anterior or posterior tilting), range of movement in the spine, flexibility of the spine and optimal curvature of the spine in a sagittal plane.

  • It can also be affected by your muscles. Symmetry through musculature on the left and right halves of the body and anterior (front) and posterior (back) halves affects alignment.2

Why the difference matters


If you’re having trouble with back or neck pain, understanding whether your posture or alignment is the cause can help you to seek the best treatment.


Problems caused by bad posture, like a stiff neck or sore muscles, require awareness and education for changing your habits. It might mean updating your work or sleep environment. Much of the time, once you’re aware of what makes good posture and how to address any problems (consult an expert if you’re unsure), posture can be largely managed yourself.


On the other hand, if you have complaints arising from alignment issues, a visit to the chiropractor can help. Chiropractors can use postural images (posture screen), physical examination, functional movement tests and range of movement assessments to effectively determine where an imbalance may be present. Your chiropractor can then provide treatment such as mobilisations, adjustments, postural corrective devices as well as stretches and exercises to correct the alignment issue.


It's important to maintain both good posture and good alignment. Once you’ve settled into good habits, over time, your nervous system develops muscle memory and forms good motor patterns to help support both.


Want to address issues arising from your posture or alignment? Book in for a chiropractic appointment today to see how our team can help you.



Sources

1 BG Diebo, JJ Varghese, R Lafage, FJ Schwab, V Lafage, Sagittal alignment of the spine: What do you need to know?, Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery, 2015

2 J Legaye, G Duval-Beaupere., Sagittal plane alignment of the spine and gravity: A radiological and clinical evaluation, Acta Orthop, 2005