Postural kyphosis is when your spine is bent so that you are always hunched forward a little (or a lot). The shoulders are rounded forward, the head is often forward compared to the line of the spine. Slouching is often the culprit, and in a time when sitting down for work or leisure time is becoming the norm, it’s not surprising that more people are experiencing the symptoms that come with poor posture.
Back pain, fatigue, neck pain, shortness of breath, weakness or numbness, muscle cramping around the shoulders, neck, back, arms or even legs- these can all be due to postural kyphosis. The good news is that in a lot of cases this can be corrected with the right exercises as long as they are done 3-4 times a week (every second day is a good rule of thumb), plus daily stretching.
1: Be aware of your posture
Make an active effort to pull your shoulders back, and your neck in line with your spine, especially when sitting.
2: Chest stretch
Your chest muscles become tight from hunching forward, and when we stretch them out our shoulders are able to naturally sit back further. To perform this stretch, stand up near and holding your arm out straight to the side, parallel to the floor, hold onto something sturdy (like a wall corner or door frame), then shuffle your feet, rotating your entire body away from that arm until you feel a stretch across your pectoral (chest) muscles, hold for 10-15 seconds, then stretch a little bit further and hold for a further 10-15 seconds. Repeat with the other arm.
3: Myofacial release
Using your thumb or fingers, feel between your armpit and collarbone, pull your shoulder forward until you feel the muscle flexing under the skin, then relax that muscle and press your fingers firmly into the relaxed muscle and hold this for 1-2 minutes, repeat on the other side. Do this again directly under your collarbone (about half way along).
4: Upper back stretch
Using either a foam roller, or a few tightly rolled towels, lay down with this item behind you on the floor, you are going to place the roller/towel roll ¾ of the way up your spine in line with your shoulder blades, and then placing your hands behind your head, relax into this position so the roll is pushing your chest forward and your shoulders back. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat again with the roll in line with where your bra clips up (or for men, just above the midway point of your spine).
Using a rowing machine, a resistance band tied to a doorknob (of a closed secure door), or laying chest down on a workout bench and holding dumbells, complete rowing actions pulling your elbows back behind you (tucked in). If you are using a light resistance just do as many as you can, if you are using a heavier resistance aim for sets of 10-12.
6: Chest lifts
Lay face down with your feet tucked under something (a couch perhaps) for leverage, and holding your hands behind your head and elbows out to the side, lift your chest and head up off the ground to the count of three, squeezing your shoulder blades together, then gently lower back down to the ground. Do 30 seconds of repetitions.
NOTE: The above exercises and stretches are not to take the place of advice from your doctor, and any new exercise program should be started only after medical clearance has been obtained.