Posture as a Reflection of Spinal Alignment

Posted in Back Pain Disorders on Aug 15, 2022

Yet another study has shown how posture is a reflection of spinal alignment beneath the surface. A team of researchers took a series of posture photos, and then a series of general x-rays of the neck (cervical spine) to see if there was any correlation between posture and the curve of the cervical spine as a whole. In brief, the researchers found a 94% positive correlation between posture and general x-ray findings. What this suggests is something that we’ve said for a long time now: 

Posture is not a matter of laziness. It is a reflection of what is going on beneath the surface, and if you have an underlying spinal condition that is affecting your health. The question that we must now ask is, “What IS that condition?”

Posture - “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”

Request Appointment

There is an old expression that we commonly use to describe posture: as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. We should like to think that a tree grows straight upwards. However, if it ever experiences sufficient stress in its youth, it can cause the tree or its branches to tilt or even turn sideways. If you have ever gone on even a very short nature walk, you surely would observe at least one tree that has a subtle bend in it. And while the tree has continued to grow tall, it is not as perfectly straight as you might expect a tree to otherwise be.

We make the exact same argument that this is what causes a person’s posture to go crooked. It is because, at some point in life, you experience a physical injury. Not necessarily broken bones, bleeding or even bruising, but a sufficient knowing that it affects something beneath the surface and causes it to develop of compensating at a somewhat skewed angle. 

Even a deviation as slight as a single degree compounded over months, years, or decades can accumulate to make big changes. And the types of changes those make to your muscles, your spine and your posture can be quite significant:

Related article

Have you Been Told you have a Short Leg?

Have you Been Told you have a Short Leg?

Dec 07, 2016
  • Your head appears crooked
  • Your shoulders appear crooked
  • Your body appears twisted
  • Your head juts too far forwards (causing the bone at the base of your neck to stick out too far)
  • Your back tightens, which affects the way you walk (and causes asymmetrical wear on your shoes)

While each of these things is subtle, they are important signs that something is happening in your body that is not necessarily ideal. And while your body may be strong enough to adapt to these things for a long period of time, eventually time catches up with us all. And when that happens, those things that we just attribute to bad posture or getting older strike hard and fast. But here’s the thing:

The problem may not actually be with getting older or with your posture either. These may simply be the symptoms - the EFFECTS - and NOT THE UNDERLYING CAUSE. So, in order to make a change in your life and improve your health, you need to figure out what that underlying cause is.

Posture and Spinal Misalignment - An Under-diagnosed Condition

We all know what our parents, grandparents, and teachers used to say: “Sit up straight. Don’t slouch. Don’t make that face or it’ll get stuck that way.” There is truth in these old adages. However, have you ever wondered why it is that you can straighten yourself up, you can do your exercises, can stretch your muscles … but then your posture just springs straight back into the position that it was before?

Aha! This is the key point of differentiation right here. So, let’s look at what typically happens and why it is that spinal misalignment as a contributing factor towards posture is such an important but often under-diagnosed condition. Let’s start from a medical perspective. When we suffer injuries, your GP (or paramedics or hospital staff) are looking for overt signs of pathology - fractures, dislocations, and external or internal lacerations - that may have the potential to kill or cripple you. If they don’t see anything wrong, unfortunately, they tell you the absolute worst thing, “You’re fine.”

Related article

You Can See the Neck Misalignment

You Can See the Neck Misalignment

Aug 24, 2016

As a result, you think that you’re fine and don’t do anything more about it. Don’t misunderstand me. They do a wonderful job ruling out the dangerous and scary kinds of things. However, what would be a better way to phrase it is that “You don’t have anything broken or dislocated. So you should probably also get yourself checked up by a physiotherapist or a chiropractor.”Aha! Now, why would that be?

It is because manual therapists including chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, and massage therapists know to look for those subtle problems that may not kill you, but can certainly affect your health in negative ways in the long run. We are very much of the opinion that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, it is a much better idea to get an assessment after an injury happens rather than waiting 10-20 years until you start to experience symptoms because by then the condition will be very chronic (and thus typically take much longer to resolve). The question then is, “Who do you see?”

Posture and Chiropractic

Admittedly, we are biased. Of course, we are going to recommend seeing your chiropractor first. Why? It is because despite what people think about chiropractors working on bones (or muscles), what they are actually working on are your nerves, which are the electrical wires that control and coordinate your muscles. 

In other words, nerves are what make your muscles work. So, if/when you may have chronically tight muscles, yes, you may just need to exercise, stretch, strengthen or massage them … but if they keep tightening straight up no matter how much work you do with them, it is a sign that something is interfering with how they are able to work in the first place. Now, if you see your physiotherapist, osteopath, or massage therapist first, that is no problem. If they are able to help resolve the underlying issue if it is just a muscle problem, awesome! 

However, if the problem hits a plateau and doesn’t quite resolve as well as it should be no matter how much work you’re doing, it is a sign that there is some type of spinal misalignment that is likely having an effect on your muscles, your posture … and until that is resolved, the issues will continue. 

Related article

Can Upper Cervical Care change abnormal spine curves?

Can Upper Cervical Care change abnormal spine curves?

Oct 30, 2019

Posture and Upper Cervical Chiropractic

Upper cervical chiropractic is a unique approach to helping posture and body function. Our focus is on the alignment of the top vertebrae in your neck called the atlas (C1) and axis (C2). The alignment, motion, and stability of these vertebrae have a powerful influence on brain health and also body function, including posture. In brief, where your head goes, your body goes. Thus, it is common for a problem with the alignment at the top of your neck to affect your shoulders, and your hips and to show up as a posture problem, which in turn produces any number of symptoms:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Shoulder or neck pain
  • Low back pain or sciatica
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • TMJ pain or disorders
  • Neuralgias or neurological disorders

By focusing on the alignment in the top of your neck, and upper cervical specific chiropractic is looking to help restore normal flow and function so that your body can work and heal from the inside out the way that it is designed. Atlas Health is the leading Blair upper cervical chiropractic healthcare centre in Australia. Located in North Lakes (north Brisbane), our mission is to help people get back to enjoying the things in life that matter most to them by helping to restore the alignment, motion, and stability in the upper neck. The approach we take, known as the Blair technique, recognises that every human being is different on the outside and inside as well. Thus, we take a personalised approach to your healthcare to achieve the greatest positive improvements in the most precise way possible. For more information or to schedule to consultation to find out how we may be able to help you, click the Contact Us link on this page or call us direct at 07 3188 9329.  


Guyot MA, Agnani O, Peyrodie L, Samantha D, Donze C, Catanzariti JF. Cervicocephalic relocation test to evaluate cervical proprioception in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.Eur Spine J. 2016 Oct;25(10):3130-3136. Epub 2016 Apr 12.

Related article

The Last Place in Australia for the Blair X-Ray

The Last Place in Australia for the Blair X-Ray

May 03, 2016

Hong SW, Lee JK, Kang JH. Relationship among Cervical Spine Degeneration, Head and Neck postures, and Myofascial Pain in Masticatory and Cervical Muscles in Elderly with Temporomandibular Disorder. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2019 Mar - Apr;81:119-128. doi: 10.1016/j.archger.2018.12.004. Epub 2018 Dec 7.

Johnston V, Jull G, Souvlis T, Jimmieson NL. Neck movement and muscle activity characteristics in female office workers with neck pain. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2008 Mar 1;33(5):555-63. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181657d0d. 

Kim BB, Lee JH, Jeong HJ, Cynn HS. Effects of suboccipital release with craniocervical flexion exercise on craniocervical alignment and extrinsic cervical muscle activity in subjects with forwarding head posture. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2016 Oct;30:31-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2016.05.007. Epub 2016 May 24.

Kocur P, Wilski M, Goliwąs M, Lewandowski J, Łochyński D. Influence of forwarding Head Posture on Myotonometric Measurements of Superficial Neck Muscle Tone, Elasticity, and Stiffness in Asymptomatic Individuals With Sedentary Jobs. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2019 Mar - Apr;42(3):195-202. doi: 10.1016/j.jmpt.2019.02.005. Epub 2019 May 20.

Kocur P, Wilski M, Lewandowski J, Łochyński D. Female Office Workers With Moderate Neck Pain Have Increased Anterior Positioning of the Cervical Spine and Stiffness of Upper Trapezius Myofascial Tissue in Sitting Posture. PM R. 2019 May;11(5):476-482. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2018.07.002. Epub 2019 Jan 14.

Mingels S, Dankaerts W, Granitzer M. Is There Support for the Paradigm 'Spinal Posture as a Trigger for Episodic Headache'? A Comprehensive Review. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2019 Mar 4;23(3):17. doi: 10.1007/s11916-019-0756-2.

Related article

Can Chiropractic Help with Sciatica?

Can Chiropractic Help with Sciatica?

Dec 11, 2019

Tang R, Ye IB, Cheung ZB, Kim JS, Cho SK. Age-Related Changes in Cervical Sagittal Alignment: A Radiographic Analysis. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2019 Jun 27. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000003082. [Epub ahead of print].

Vaghela NP, Parekh SK, Padsala D, Patel D. Effect of backpack loading on cervical and sagittal shoulder posture in standing and after dynamic activity in school going children. J Family Med Prim Care. 2019 Mar;8(3):1076-1081. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_367_18.

Wang L, Liu X. Cervical sagittal alignment in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis patients (Lenke type 1-6). J Orthop Sci. 2017 Mar;22(2):254-259. doi: 10.1016/j.jos.2016.12.006. Epub 2016 Dec 23.

Brunette J, Gélinas L, Chankowsky J (2021) Functional Leg Length Discrepancy among Pediatric Scoliosis: A Reversible Neuromuscular Compensation from Craniocervical Junction Misalignment. J Musculoskelet Disord Treat 7:105.  

de Albuquerque PMNM, de Oliveira DA, do Nascimento Alves LI, et al. The accuracy of computerized biophotogrammetry in diagnosing changes in the cervical spine and its reliability for the cervical lordosis angle [published online ahead of print, 2022 Jul 30]. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2022;10.3233/BMR-210375. doi:10.3233/BMR-210375.

Leave a comment