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Common Postural Problems....and how to avoid them! Part1: Kyphosis, or Roundback

Last time I talked about hands and wrists and how to prevent overuse of the muscles and joints. Over the next few weeks I am going to cover three common postural faults. Their technical names are Kyphosis, Lordosis and Scoliosis. Postural faults are common and can affect your self-confidence and well-being. The good news is that there are things we can all do to improve our posture. For each postural fault, I will outline the symptoms, causes, and corrective measures. Today I am focussing on Kyphosis. Kyphosis is when the spine has an excessive convex curvature in the central and upper regions. The shoulders appear rounded and the chin can jut forward. It can be caused by numerous factors, such as neurogenerative disorders, injuries such as a slipped disc, osteoporosis, or poor posture ("slouching") as an adolescent. It can also develop later in life, due to vertebral fractures or aging of the spine. This is known as "dowager's hump" and results in a stooped posture. Depending on the severity of the curvature, it can be corrected by strengthening exercises and improved posture. More severe cases may need surgery. As the spine curves further out of alignment, the muscles around tighten and shorten to compensate, in particular around the shoulders and scapula. This results in them becoming weaker. Massage will warm up and loosen the muscles and help them to lengthen and become stronger. Yoga and Pilates classes can also help as the teacher will correct your posture so that you can feel what is correct, and practice it. The moves will help to strengthen your core (tummy) muscles better support your spine. I go to a weekly Pilates class and our teacher always starts with how to stand correctly! She starts with our feet and works all the way up to the crown of the head and I am sure I end up 2 inches taller! One stretch you can do to lengthen and stretch out your spine is the active child's pose. Begin by getting into table top position on your hands and knees. Move your hands forward along the ground until you feel a stretch. Slowly sit back on your ankles, letting your knees widen out, and rest your forehead on the floor. Maintain the stretch while you take deep breaths in and out. Another stretch is the standing forward fold. Stand up straight with your knees soft and your shoulders back, looking straight ahead. Slowly bend forward at the hips, keeping your spine long and straight, aiming for a 90 degree bend. Allow your arms to drop straight down in front of you and touch the floor if you can. Take deep breaths in and out as you hold the position. Share any tips you have in the comments to help us improve our posture and protect our muscles against strain and weakness :)

photo credit: By Laboratoires Servier - Smart Servier website: Images related to Vertebral column disorders, Skeleton and bones and Bones -- Download in Powerpoint format.Flickr: Images related to Vertebral column disorders, Skeleton and bones and Bones (in French)., CC BY-SA 3.0,

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