How to Improve Kyphosis
How to Improve Kyphosis
Good posture is so important for many reasons, and has a huge impact on your comfort levels day-to-day. When you have good posture, your muscles and joints typically work better together, because they are more efficient. This means proper spinal (back) function, better balance and an increased range of motion (flexibility). Having good posture, and therefore a good range of motion, can allow you to get more out of your workouts, and it can also reduce your chance of an injury.
Over time, there have been some massive changes to the way that we as humans live and move — specifically, we are becoming more and more sedentary. In simple terms, being sedentary means spending more time sitting and less time moving around.
How many of you have gotten up in the morning, jumped in your car to drive to work, sat at a desk all day, driven home and parked yourself on the couch to watch television for a few hours, only to go a bed and do the same thing all over again the very next day? That is a lot of sitting!
This pattern of behaviour is so common, especially with the increase of office-based jobs. Not only can a lack of exercise (and movement in general) lead to weight gain, but it can also wreak havoc on your posture.
Thanks to this sedentary behaviour, our muscles can learn to become “lazy” (I mean, why would you choose to get out of bed if you didn’t have to, right?!). This “laziness” can come in many forms — including tightness, weakness, or simply not activating when they are supposed to. But of course, we still need to move, so often our body tries to compensate by getting other muscles to work harder in order to help “pick up the slack”.
To be clear, there are also postural abnormalities that are genetic, such as odd-shaped bones or disproportion. However, we cannot necessarily change these easily, so today I’m going to focus on postural changes resulting from muscle imbalances, such as kyphosis.
What is kyphosis?
One of most common forms of bad posture is kyphosis or ‘rounded shoulders’. I have provided an example of what kyphotic posture looks like in the image below.
As you can see, someone with kyphotic posture is slightly more rounded in their upper spine and appears a little ‘slouched’. Their shoulders roll forward (hence the name ‘rounded shoulders’) and their neck and chin sit slightly more forwards. Like all other postural abnormalities, kyphosis is generally caused by muscular imbalances, and in this case can include, but is not limited to:
- Tight pectoral (chest) muscles
- Tight upper abdominal muscles
- Weak upper trapezius (back) muscles
- Weak rhomboids (muscle between shoulder blades)
How do we fix kyphotic posture?
To determine the cause, and fix postural dysfunction you need to look at two key things. Firstly, movement patterns and then exercise, as these two things go hand-in-hand.
In relation to movement patterns, this means making sure that we move in the right way to engage muscles effectively and efficiently. For example, sitting in a slouched position at your desk for 8-10 hours a day for months and even years on end, versus maintaining an upright position throughout the day. It is a great strategy to start by analysing your day-to-day movement patterns to highlight any issues with your regular behaviour. As muscular imbalances are often a result of poor chronic (long-term) movement patterns, it may take some time and effort to fix, so don’t get disheartened if you don’t notice a ‘fix’ right away.
You can make adjustments by:
- Becoming aware of your posture throughout the day.
- Finding positions you are in regularly and try to improve them (such as driving or sitting at your desk).
From an exercise perspective, being proactive with specific exercise training can help you improve and reduce the negative side effects of kyphosis and other postural dysfunctions. Activity such as stretching the muscles that are tight and strengthening muscles that are weak or under-engaged is a great way to be proactive and to work towards a solution using exercise.
1. Stretch your chest and abs
In the case of kyphosis, you can stretch your pectoral (chest) muscles. While a massage therapist can help, you can also do this yourself with the help of a foam roller or massage ball. The beauty of these methods is that you can work at your own pace and control how much pressure you apply. You can then follow this on with some static stretches.
2. Strengthen your rhomboids and trapezius
While I do incorporate these types of exercises into both my BBG and BBG Stronger programs, over the next few weeks in my blog, I will show you some exercises that can help strengthen these muscles. Regardless of whether you are working out from home or the gym, these moves are definitely good to know.
Love, Kayla xx
* Results may vary. Strict adherence to the nutrition and exercise guide are required for best results.