Age with grace, not a hunched back

Source: Pinterest

Does your posture conjure up images of an old dowager, hunched over her grocery bags?  If so, you are not alone.  Everyday we engage in activities that facilitate this posture: carrying groceries and backpacks full of heavy books, hunching over computer terminals, even positioning ourselves on our bikes in spin classes can help create a forward head and hunched over shoulders, also called thoracic kyphosis.

Kyphosis doesn't just look ugly.  It can lead to compromised respiration, muscle imbalance, and psychological stress.  It hinders our muscles from working optimally.

How can you tell if you have it?  This month I came across a quick and easy way to identify kyphosis, so I thought I would pass it on.  After all, knowledge is empowerment, right?  Here it is, put forth by trade magazine, IDEA Fitness Journal:
  1. First, find the indentation in between your collarbones at the front of the neck.  This is called the sternal notch.  Place one finger here.
  2. Then, find the bone in the back of you neck that protrudes the most.  Walk your hand down one vertebra.  Place another finger there.
  3. Look in the mirror.  Are the two points parallel?  If the sternal notch is lower, you are kyphotic.
Did you detect kyphosis?  Don't fret.  Given our lifestyles, most of us have at least a mild case of it.  And, with a few exercises, you can dramatically improve, if not get rid of the condition all together.  Here are two, simple exercises that dramatically improve your posture. 
  1. Chin tucks.  Chin tucks will strengthen your neck flexors and realign your head so that it sits properly over your neck.  To peform, pull your head back as far as you can, giving yourself a double chin.  (You will look ugly, old, and fat while you do this, so I suggest refraining from looking in the mirror).  Perform 15 times and hold 5 seconds each time.  Repeat.
  2. Shoulder squeezes.  Stand up straight, feet hip width apart.  Hold your ribs in and pull up your pelvic floor.  Slide the shoulder blades together without letting the ribs lift up.  Hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat.  
Easy, right?  Perform each of these exercises every day and you will begin to see a marked improvement in your posture, making you feel healthier, more confident, and more beautiful.  

That's a good way to start out the new year!

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