The Right Kind of Exercise Can Improve Posture Over Time
If you’re like most of Americans, then you’re hunched over your computer or cell phone for over 10 hours per day causing slumped shoulders and forward head posture. Doctors refer to this as kyphosis and over time it can lead to rigid muscles along the shoulders, chest and arms while simultaneously causing weak upper back and neck muscles.
Kyphosis can be caused by arthritis, osteoporosis-related fractures in the spine, deteriorating discs, or injuries, but today we’re seeing more and more cases of kyphosis because of poor posture.
Why Should You Care About Posture?
- Poor posture can make you look shorter and display a lack of confidence.
- It affects overall strength, balance, respiration and can cause nerve impingement
- Can lead to chronic headaches as well as pain all the way down the kinetic chain hip pain, knee pain and back pain
- May lead to pain all the way down the kinetic chain affecting our ankles, knees, hips, backs and more
- Can lead to degenerative spinal diseases which impact every part of our bodies
Who Is Affected By Poor Posture?
All of us! Between driving, cell phones, computer time and poorly designed office ergonomics most of us notice enter chronic pain due to kyphosis before middle age. Furthermore, children in their early teens are already showing early signs of kyphosis due to increased electronics use.
“When your alignment is off, it has an impact on your whole body,” says Dr. Beth Frates, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School. “Think of it as a chain reaction,” she says, “Poor posture pulls other parts of your body out of line, leading to muscle pain and other problems. This is similar to what might happen, for example, if you favor a sore knee. It affects not only your knee, but often your hip and back, which are now out of alignment, says Dr. Frates. (Harvard Health Publishing February 2020)
How To Fix It and Avoid Chronic Pain
Let’s take a non-technical look at the affected muscles:
When the shoulders slouch the neck and upper back muscles remain elongated which causes them to weaken over time. The front muscles, however, like the chest, shoulders and biceps are in a shortened state. This constant shortening causes tightness and only makes the slouching worse by pulling you further down.
If you’ve already started to slouch, then your first step should be to your physician, chiropractor or orthopedist to rule out any pathology such as osteoporosis or degenerative disc disease. You can read more about creating Healthy Bones
“A 2017 study in Osteoporosis International found that people who participated in a six-month program that included posture training and exercises designed to strengthen the spine were able to reduce kyphosis, compared with people who did not go through the program.” The study suggests that we can reverse kyphosis with the very carefully selected exercises. That’s a win in my book!
Carefully Selecting Exercises To Improve Posture and Reverse Kyphosis
Exercises that target the upper body, arms, back, and abdomen are likely to benefit your posture by strengthening the muscles that help to hold you erect.
If your posture is already a problem, you might also consider working with a physical therapist to improve your strength and flexibility, says Dr. Frates.
Also, be aware of your posture at work, in the car, when standing and walking.. basically everywhere. Remember, don’t slouch!
If you still you’re not sure where to begin, then fear not! We can help you with that. You can click here to inquire about where to start
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