The Seated Kyphosis Corrector is a convenient and effective exercise to prevent and correct rounded shoulders and poor posture, two problems that can be greatly exacerbated – even caused – by sitting down for long periods.
So why not make some of that “sit time” productive? This exercise pushes the shoulder blades back and down, counteracting forward head posture (FHP), slouched shoulders, and flattening your upper back. And it feels fantastic!
One of the reasons it feels so good is that it targets the muscles that can get so tight and sore after a long day at the desk. Let’s take a look at some of these muscle groups and how they relate to posture and osteoporosis.
These muscles are named from the Greek word trapezion, which refers to the muscles’ quadrilateral shape. (As you might suspect, the rhomboids, discussed below, are also named for their shape.)
The “traps” have a kite-like shape that fans out across the upper back. They include the upper, middle, and lower traps, and they attach to the thoracic and cervical vertebrae and the top of the shoulder joints.
Weak traps allow the shoulder blades to slip apart and the thoracic vertebrae to hunch forward. The neck also sags forward when the upper traps are weak. Strengthening these important muscles draws the shoulder blades back together, lifts the head above the shoulders, realigns the spine, and stimulates bone growth as per Wolff’s Law.
The major and minor rhomboids are small but important muscles that lie underneath the traps. They connect the shoulder blades to the ribcage, cervical vertebrae, and thoracic vertebrae. They are responsible for rotating your shoulder blades in and back, as in today’s exercise. And they also play a role in head position due to their connection to the neck and upper back vertebrae.
Working the rhomboids is an excellent way to increase density in these critical vertebrae.
Pectoralis Major and Minor
The “pecs” are the primary muscles in the front of the chest. When they are weak or tight, the chest caves in and pulls the shoulder blades forward and down. Stretching and strengthening the pecs is important in maintaining proper posture. Too often, emphasis is placed on strengthening only, and the pecs can actually become tighter if overworked. Stretching and opening the chest are just as important as working the muscles.
All of the above muscles (and more) are worked in the Seated Kyphosis Corrector. Here’s how to do it.
- Sit up straight on the edge of your chair. “Straight” means your ears are directly over your shoulders (if possible), and your shoulders are over your hips. It doesn’t mean your chest is thrust out or your back arched.
- Draw your belly button in slightly to engage your core and keep your hips from tilting backward. This is also a way to “sneak in” some abdominal strengthening as well.
- Bend your arms at an approximate 90-degree angle and keep your elbows at your sides, palms up.
- Pull your shoulder blades in and bring your elbows back. Make sure you’re using your traps and rhomboids to move your elbows; don’t try to move them on their own.
- Now that your shoulders are back and your chest muscles stretched, gently push your elbows down toward your bottom.
- Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, and then release.
- Repeat this hold and release pattern 5 to 10 times as often as you like during the day.
Exercises like this one improve posture, obviously – but the benefits of good posture (and by extension, the benefits of posture exercises) go well beyond looking more youthful and improving bone health. And the research is showing this more and more.
Proper Posture Contributes To Many Health Benefits
The issue of posture has come to the fore recently, as the use of computers and electronics – and the slouched posture that goes with it – has become universal. Doctors and researchers around the globe are beginning to take posture more seriously, and new research from Germany reveals some fascinating benefits of “walking tall” and sitting up straight.
Study Shows Good Posture Relieves Depression
It’s generally accepted that those who feel confident and happy will exhibit those feelings with good posture. But research suggests that it works both ways.
The study involved 30 people diagnosed with major depression, who were divided into two groups. One group was asked to sit in a slouched, slumped position, while the other group was asked to sit upright. Then both groups were shown 16 words that were positive, like “beauty” 16 negative words like “dejected.” Each time the participants were shown a word, they were asked to imagine a scenario where that word would be applicable.
Both groups engaged in unrelated activities for five minutes, and then were asked to recall as many of the words from the previous session as they could. Amazingly enough, the participants who had heard the words while slumped recalled more negative words than positive ones. The upright group’s recall was more balanced and unbiased.
The study concludes that,
“The findings indicate that relatively minor changes in the motoric system can affect one of the best-documented cognitive biases in depression.” 1
What better time to boost mood and confidence than autumn, when lower levels of daylight can affect depression?
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Enjoy the weekend!
1 Michalak, Johannes, Mischnat, Judith, and Teismann, Tobias. “Sitting Posture Makes a Difference – Embodiment Effects on Depressive Memory Bias.” Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy. February 27, 2014. Vol. 21, Issue 6, pages 519-524. Doi: 10.1002/cpp.1980. Web. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cpp.1890/abstract