What Type of Posture Do I Have? Kyphosis, Flatback, Swayback, or Forward Head

Posture is something that plays an important role in our everyday lives. Your posture can actually affect how you feel. Good posture can provide you with higher energy levels, more confidence, relief of neck tension, migraine relief, prevent back and shoulder issues, and support for already existing chronic back pains. There are many different types of posture problems including lordosis, kyphosis, flatback, swayback, and forward neck or head. If you are experiencing any of these posture problems, read on to determine what condition you have and what is actually causing it.

Healthy Posture

Using correct posture and keeping your spine aligned are the most important things you can do for your back. As seen below, having good posture should keep your body aligned. Your ears should line up over your shoulder, which then lines up over your hips, and when standing those points should align over the ankles. If you are having a hard time maintaining good posture, we recommend wearing a posture brace or participating in posture exercises. A posture brace will help train your body to sit up straight and posture exercises will strengthen your core, back, and shoulder muscles to help hold your body in the correct posture position.

the differences between kyphosis, flatback, swayback and forward head in a comparison graphic


Kyphosis is a common condition that results in forward rounding of your upper back region. Compared to natural curves which have a curvature around 20-50 degrees, kyphosis has an excess curve greater than 50 degrees. This causes your spine to hunch over and make you appear to be slouching or have a hunchback. Kyphosis can be seen at any age but is most commonly seen in older women after osteoporosis weakens the bones in the spine until they crack and compress. If you suffer from kyphosis, you may be experiencing back pain and stiffness.

Flat Back

As mentioned before, the spine has a natural curve. It has two curves forming an “S” like shape. When you have flat back syndrome the spine loses the lower curve and becomes flat. This causes the spine to become imbalanced and the patient tends to lean forward. If you have flat back you may have trouble standing up straight or having constant back or leg pain. The flatback syndrome may develop due to degenerative disc disease, compression fractures, or ankylosing spondylitis.

Swayback (Lordosis)

Everyone has a natural curve in their spine, it is called lordosis. But when your posture exaggerates this spinal curve, it can cause hyperlordosis or swayback. When this condition occurs, the spine curves inward at the lower back and neck area. It usually causes back pain and discomfort as well as affecting your ability to move. When you suffer from lordosis or swayback it may appear that you are sticking out your stomach and buttocks.  It also causes your shoulders to sit further back and your head tilts forward. This will throw off your balance and force your lower back to work harder. This posture condition can be caused by many different things including osteoporosis, kyphosis, obesity, and pregnancy. A few other things that can contribute to swayback posture can be constantly wearing high heels or sleeping on your stomach can also contribute to sway back posture. So ditch the heels and start sleeping on your side or back!

Forward Neck or Head

The further forward your head posture is the more stress in puts on your back

In this posture position, the neck and head are in a forward position where the head is extending out past the shoulders. Forward neck can also be called text neck. This is because more and more, we are hunched over our phones and computers all day causing our neck to tilt forward. You may be experiencing tension, stiffness, or pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. The body will follow where your head goes, so if your head is forward, your shoulders and back will also hunch forward. Your neck is designed to stay vertical to support the weight of your skull, which on average is about 10-12 pounds. Every inch that your head falls forward it adds another 10 pounds of stress on the neck, shoulders, back, and spine.

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