Weekend Challenge: Kyphosis Tester And Preventer
Savers are undoubtedly aware of FHP (Forward Head Posture) and its association with kyphosis, or Dowager’s Hump. But what you may not know is that poor posture can influence your overall health, affecting more than your bones.
There’s good news, though: FHP and kyphosis can be corrected and prevented with the right kind of exercises. Also, with a simple evaluation, you can find out if your posture needs attention.
So this weekend, I challenge you to take proactive steps to correct FHP – starting with the Kyphosis Tester And Preventer. And you’ll also be able to determine the extent of your FHP and/or kyphosis with a step-by-step DIY Posture Evaluation.
Let’s get started!
Posture is about so much more than just standing up straight. When you sit or stand with correct posture, your joints are aligned and your body does not have to fight gravity to stay upright. Instead, gravity works with your body, not against it, to promote excellent balance and relieve pain.
When your skeleton and muscles are aligned in proper posture, all body systems can work together more efficiently. Take a look at the following ways your posture can affect you.
- How others see you matters when it comes to workplace attitude and job security. If you’re slouching most of the time, you might be perceived as less effective and vital as a worker.
- Your breathing is compromised by FHP and rounded shoulders. Not only is deep breathing alkalizing for the body, promoting bone growth, but it’s also crucial for all of your body systems that rely on oxygen-rich blood.
Digestion is more efficient when your body is “at rest” in a state of good posture. When you’re hunched forward, it constricts your digestive organs, from your liver to your intestines. Slouching shortens your esophagus, too, and may contribute to indigestion and reflux.
Efficient digestion is vital for bone health, too, so that your bones obtain the nutrients they need from the foods you eat.
- Depression can be worsened by poor posture, and depression harms your bones. Remarkably, research has shown that your posture profoundly affects your self-image, and good posture promotes self-confidence.
- Pain in the head, neck, upper back, and shoulders can result from poor posture. Your muscles must work against gravity to keep you upright, and your muscles become tight and fatigued as they pull against misaligned bones and joints. This can cause tension headaches, “cricks” in the neck, and tightness and aching in the shoulders and upper back.
Joint misalignment occurs with poor posture, and not just in your vertebrae. The joints in your hips, shoulders, knees, ankles, and others all are affected by how you sit and stand. When the joints are out of alignment, the friction of everyday use occurs in the wrong areas of the joint, leading to inflammation, arthritis, and even joint degeneration. In addition, joints that were never intended to bear significant load end up compromising for the misaligned joints, overburdening the joints and causing pain and deterioration.
All of this combines to reduce your ability to balance, making you more likely to fall and break a bone.
- Fatigue is the natural consequence of not taking in enough oxygen and of constant muscle strain. Headaches and other body pain can simply you out, contributing to feeling weak and tired.
For these reasons, your bone health depends on excellent posture. Indeed, your whole body health is connected with how you position yourself in space.
How Do I Know If I Have Unhealthy Posture?
Given the importance of posture, it makes sense to evaluate your body position so you know where you stand, so to speak. You can do this easily at home, which we will discuss in a moment. First, I’d like to get to today’s exercise.
This exercise involves lying in a prone position, so you’ll be more comfortable if you use an exercise mat or even a firm bed – just as long as it’s not a thick, soft mattress.
- Lie on your stomach and prop yourself up on your elbows.
- Slowly raise your head so that there is a straight line from the back of your neck to your lower back. If you cannot bring your head up that high, don’t worry; just do the best you can.
- Slowly lift your head from this position, aiming the top of your head toward your bottom. Go as far as you can, and then lower your head back down to the starting position described in step 2.
- Repeat this motion eight to 10 times, doing more or less as your fitness and comfort levels allow.
Did you find this exercise difficult? It’s possible that your posture is suffering. Here is a simple test you can do at home to evaluate your posture, followed by a study showing targeted exercises really do help correct posture.
Posture Evaluation: Key Points
To assess your posture, the following key points should be observed. Find a full-length mirror and stand in front of it as you normally would. First, take a look at the following points from the side:
- Lumbar vertebrae: are they curved moderately, or is there a sharp curve inward and forward (lordosis)? Are the lumbar vertebrae rounded outward or flat? They should have a gentle curve forward.
- Upper back: a very slight curve posteriorly should be observed.
- Neck vertebrae should have a slight forward curve. The back of your neck should not look “folded” or creased.
- Pelvis should be neutral, not tilted forward or backward.
- Your head should be positioned so the top of your head is toward the ceiling, not the back of your head. There should be no noticeable tilt either forward or backward.
- Your shoulders blades should not jut outward, but should lie flat against your upper back.
- Take a look at your knees. They should also be neutral, not hyper extended or bent.
- Ankles should have neutral joint alignment, not tilted or flexed inward or outward.
Now turn and look at your posture from the front, standing with your feet about three inches apart.
- Feet should not be pointing noticeably inward or outward.
- The right and left halves of your body should be roughly symmetrical – check your head first. If a line was drawn from the top of your forehead to your chin, would one ear be higher than the other? Would the line go between your eyes, or would it be much closer to one eye than the other? Continue that line down to your abdomen.
- As you continue, is one shoulder higher than the other? How about your chest – does the imaginary line run down the center, or is it to one side?
- Check to see if one of your hips is higher than the other.
- Your knees should both be facing forward and one knee should not be markedly higher than the other.
You can ask a friend or family member to assess your posture from behind, or you can use a hand-held mirror to view your posture from the back as you stand with the full-length mirror behind you.
From the back, the following points should be noted:
- Head should not be tilted or rotated to the side.
- Shoulders should be level.
- Scapulae (shoulder blades) should be level, without either scapula jutting out or sitting higher than the other. They should be flat, not tilted forward as with kyphosis.
- Hips should be level as well.
- Check your thoracic spine – it should not curve left or right.
- Are your knees angled inward or outward? They should be level and neutral.
Now that you’ve evaluated your posture, you can take action to correct any problems. And you can rest assured that your efforts will help, as the following study points out.
Research Demonstrates How Exercise Corrects Posture
Scientists examined the effects of a 10-week long home exercise program designed to improve FHP. Participants performed stretches of the neck extensor muscles and the chest muscles each day, and various exercises to strengthen the neck flexors and shoulder retractor muscles.
When compared to the control group, the exercisers showed “significant differences” in their range of motion and postural measurements, leading the study authors to conclude that:
“…short, home-based targeted exercise program can improve postural alignment related to FHP.”1
This is good news indeed! And it gets better: the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is just the thing for a “home-based, targeted exercise program” as described in the study. The moves in Densercise™ are similar (but not identical) to the exercises you’ll find in the Weekend Challenges, such as the Advanced Forward Head Posture Corrector, a Weekend Challenge that makes a good companion to today’s exercise.
Densercise™ is designed to be clear, concise, easy to follow, but challenging enough to give your bones the stimulation they need to reverse low bone density. Densercise™ targets all the vulnerable areas of the skeleton, too, with moves that focus on the hips, ankles, wrists, vertebrae, and so on. There are quite a few posture exercises in Densercise™ as well, and now there’s scientific proof that such targeted moves do correct and prevent FHP.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Please feel free to discuss today’s challenge by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend, and stand tall!
1 Harman, K., Hubley-Kozey, C.L., and Butler, H. “Effectiveness of an exercise program to improve forward head posture in normal adults: A randomized, controlled 10-week trial.” The Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. 13. 3. (2005): 163–76. PDF.