Posture is something I work on with many of my clients because over time there have been huge changes in the way we live. Becoming more sedentary or sitting at a desk is certainly one thing we can blame!
Why is good posture important?
Not only does it impact your comfort but also your movement and poor posture can cause a considerable amount of pain and even injuries. Good posture helps you move more efficiently and helps your muscles and joints work together, helping your balance, flexibility and back function as well as preventing injury and pain.
Why does our posture get bad?
Because so many of us drive to work, sit at a desk, drive home and then sit in front of the TV- all this sitting leads our muscles to become a little lazy. This can come in the form of tightness, weakness, or just not really switching on when you need them to. Other muscles then have to work harder to compensate - this can be especially true for the upper trapezius muscles (base of the neck and top of the shoulder working harder) when the rhomboids and lower trapezius get a little lazy or weak.
What is Kyphosis?
It is one of the most common forms of bad posture- rounded shoulders and sometimes upper spine. The neck and chin can also sit slightly more forward.
The cause of this is often muscular imbalance such as:
Tight chest muscles (pectorals)
Weak rhomboids (the muscle between the shoulder blades).
Tight upper abdominal muscles
Weak upper trapezius (back) muscles
Ways to fix bad posture for Kyphosis?
It takes time, don’t expect it fixed in a couple of weeks, it takes little changes over months. First work on your movement patterns, you want to be engaging the right muscles at the right time.
Become aware of your posture when you are sitting at your desk, standing or driving - sit up straight pulling your shoulders back and down. I remember this by popping a post-it note on my desk that will remind me to correct my posture ever-so-often. It’s hard work and you may feel achy after a while but your muscles will soon strengthen and become used to working in this way, it will then become more and more natural and you won’t have to think about it every 2 minutes.
Exercise wise you want to stretch the muscles that are tight and strengthen the weak under-active muscles.
Stretch your chest and ab muscles. This can be done by yourself with some simple stretches or using a foam roller or massage ball or by a sports massage.
Strengthen your trapezius and rhomboid muscles. This can be though exercises such as Y raises, dumbbell reverse flys, floor scapula retractions, cable or TRX rows and wall scapula retractions to name a few. These should be incorporated into a well-rounded programme, some of them such as the Y raises, reverse flys and floor or wall scapula retractions can be done at home.
Some postural abnormalities are genetic and we cannot necessarily change these so easily, however, if you feel yours is explained above and is a result of your daily movement patterns then give these exercises and movement suggestions a go.
BSc Sports Science, Women’s Fitness Specialist and Personal Trainer