This page is one of a series on understanding and improving your posture. Posture is the position the body adopts in response to the effects of gravity. It is the way you hold yourself in sitting, standing or lying down.
'Good' posture allows movement with the least amount of strain and damage. 'Good' posture is sometimes described as 'back straight, shoulders back and tummy in'. In many respects this posture is good, but posture is about more than sitting or standing as straight as possible. Normally your body adopts many different postures in order to do different tasks and moving into different positions during the day helps the body to remain flexible.
It is better to think of 'good' posture as a position in which you:
- feel safe and well balanced
- are able to do everyday tasks easily
- are doing the least amount of damage to your body
Posture only becomes 'bad' when it causes harm to your body or stops you doing everyday things. This may happen if you:
- hold one position for a long time
- feel unbalanced and have to use effort to stay upright
- find that stiff muscles make it easier to sit or stand in a bad posture, which makes the problem worse
Our other articles in this collection will help you find out more about good and bad posture, how your core muscles affect your posture, and check and improve your own posture. We also have a list of useful links relating to posture, so you can explore this issue in more detail and find exercises or support to help you.
MS symptoms that can cause poor posture
There are a number of MS symptoms that can make it harder to maintain a good position. These can come on gradually without you noticing. A physiotherapist will be able to assist you in assessing these issues in more detail and helping with your specific problems.
If you have any weakness or imbalance in your muscles, especially the core or postural muscles in your back and stomach, it will be harder to keep your back and pelvis in a good position and keep a good posture. You may end up with an arched or slumped back, which can lead to neck and back strain. Strengthening the core muscles will help. You could join a yoga, tai chi or pilates class, or look at our suggested exercises for posture here.
Weakness in other parts of your body can also affect your posture. Having weaker legs can result in stress in the pelvis and spine. If you find you are walking with a limp or dragging your feet after a while, try and pace yourself. Rest regularly to allow your muscles to recover, and consider using a walking aid for longer distances.
Vision problems can be common in MS. If your eyesight is poor, you may find that you hunch over a book or newspaper, or lean forward awkwardly to see the television or computer screen. To avoid this, ensure that your reading area is well lit, adjust the font size on your computer screen, and take regular breaks to prevent eye strain.
Numbness or tingling
If you have numbness or tingling in your legs, it may cause you to feel a bit unsure of your balance. This may cause you to stoop forward when you are walking, so you can see where you are putting your feet. To avoid getting neck or back strain, try looking ahead a few metres to scan for obstacles, and this may keep you a bit more upright.
Fatigue can also have an impact on your posture. It is a natural tendency to sag and slouch with the effects of gravity when you are fatigued.
Your fatigue might be caused directly by MS (primary fatigue) or by secondary factors such as lack of sleep, stress, low mood, poor fitness or lack of exercise, inadequate diet or side effects from medication. In all cases, the key to managing fatigue is planning, prioritising and pacing your activities and using energy effective strategies. Exercises to improve your posture will help train your muscles so they tire less easily.
Last updated: May 2018
Last reviewed: May 2018
This page will be reviewed within three years