Flat Back Posture
What's happening to my posture?
The Flat Back posture comprises elements of several distinctive alignment issues. The head, neck, and shoulders, display key characteristics of the forward head posture, while the upper back presents with a straightening of the thoracic spine with the lower backs natural lordosis flattens out. Flat Back posture has the tendency to create little support for the rib cage creating a physical environment in which the chest collapses forward and down. The pelvis also shows an excessive posterior tilt (tilting under) – possibly affecting the degree to which the lower back naturally curves.
Head is too far forward
Neck has an increased curve
Shoulders are falling forward and down
Chest and Rib Cage falling forward
Upper Back Straightening out as you move down the spine
Lower Back flattens out
Pelvis tilting or tucking under (Posterior tilt)
Muscle Shortness - What's overworking?
- Hamstrings – back of the thigh
Muscle weakness - What's too long?
- Quadriceps – front of the thigh
- Lumbar Erector Spinae – muscles running along the spine at the lower back
Flat back posture Considerations
Tightness of the abdominals and hamstrings, coupled with possible weakness in the quadriceps increases the chance of the pelvis tilting (tucking) under and the lower back flattening out, or being placed in an excessively lengthened state.
This has the direct potential of placing ligaments and/or discs of lumbar spine (lower back) at risk of injury or damage.
Just as with all patterns, to improve posture work towards improving the natural curve of the lower back. You can start this process by improving the position of the pelvis.
If the pelvis is tucked too far under, our goal should be to work towards a neutral or balanced position of the pelvis. In a flat-back posture this would need the pelvis to tip (or tilt) forward slightly.
- What is your lumbar spine (lower back) doing?
- Can it offer a slight curve with the balanced pelvis?
Use these considerations as a starting point, but always remember to refer to a qualified practitioner who has the skills to assist in improving your posture.
Kendall, F.P., McCreary, E.K., & Provanc, P.G. (1993). Muscles, testing and function (4th ed). Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins.
Here are some of the other common posture patterns: