Weekend Challenge: Gentle FHP And Kyphosis Corrector
This weekend you’ll be “waking up” key muscle groups in the neck and upper back – muscles that tend to “fall asleep” with chronic Forward Head Posture, or FHP.
Savers are familiar with FHP, an unbalanced position of the head that can wreak havoc in your posture, contributing to kyphosis (also known as Dowager’s Hump). FHP actually causes far more than just this postural issue; it can give rise to all sorts of problems as the body is forced to compensate for the imbalance it causes.
So let’s take a closer look at FHP and what you can do about it.
Forward Head Posture (FHP) typically arises from several lifestyle factors. Prolonged sitting, especially while craning forward or downward to peer at a screen, is a major culprit. Professions like hairdresser, dentist, and so forth also that require leaning forward and/or down throughout the workday. Hobbies like woodworking, model painting, sewing, etc. can also result in FHP. And finally, lack of exercise and regular movement prevent the body from “resetting” and recovering from the muscle strain caused by FHP.
The issue with FHP is that it tends to become chronic. It’s not just poking your head forward briefly once in awhile; it’s typically a constant postural error.
As a result, the muscles that hold the head up become strained and imbalanced, with the neck flexors in the front becoming weak, and the neck extensors in the back becoming tight. The upper back muscles also become tight, while the chest muscles weaken.
A stiff neck, headaches, back pain, shoulder stiffness, and other conditions can then result. And you have difficulty “straightening up” because the necessary muscles can no longer pull the head into the right position.
FHP has a devastating effect on your bone health. For instance, your spine follows your head; it has to, because if it didn’t, you would fall over! So when your body is in a state of compensation, it’s calling upon muscles that aren’t designed to act as stabilizers (such as movement muscles) to do the work of keeping you upright. This means your balance is very compromised, which in turn means you’re at greater risk of falling and breaking a bone.
That’s not all. According to a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the greater your “kyphotic index” – that is, the greater the curvature of your upper spine – the higher the risk for vertebral fractures, even after adjusting for age, body mass, existing fractures, and bone density.1
In addition, FHP pulls your spine out of alignment, putting stress in all the wrong areas. In contrast, healthful stress on the bones through exercise stimulates bone growth where your bones need it most.
So with that said, let’s take a look at this weekend’s exercise, which is a simple move that wakes up those snoozing, weak muscles in the neck and upper back, and “teaches” them how to hold your head in the right position.
- Get down on your hands and knees with your toes on the floor and your heels up.
- Now sit back and bring your hips down to your heels, and go down on your elbows. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders.
- Tuck your chin and bring your head back and up so it’s level with your upper back.
- Hold this position for two to three minutes, depending on your comfort level. If you feel fatigued after a minute or less, that’s fine; just do what you can. You can relax and repeat if you like, or do this exercise periodically through the day.
And for more moves that address FHP, proper posture, and kyphosis, try following this weekend’s move with these other challenges:
Now that you’re training these muscles to keep your head in an optimal position, you’ll “feel it” when you begin to slip into FHP during the day. And the more you perform exercises like this one and similar moves in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, the better able your muscles will be to correct FHP before it becomes chronic.
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As always, feel free to share your thoughts on today’s challenge by leaving a comment below.
Have a great weekend!
1 Roux, C., et al. “Prospective assessment of thoracic kyphosis in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 25. 2. (2010): 362–8. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19594302