When I was a kid, my mother always told me not to slouch. Being an ornery child, I rarely listened to her. Now that I’m a grownup, her words have finally started to resonate with me. I now know that rounded shoulders or poor posture can contribute to low back pain which accounts for 51.7 percent of reported musculoskeletal impairments. Nearly 80 percent of the population will experience low back pain (chronic or acute) at some point in their lifetime.
Rounded shoulder posture, commonly called kyphosis, is a muscular imbalance that causes roundness of the upper back and shoulders, an increased forward head tilt and a decreased curve in the lower back. All of these biomechanical changes can reduce range of motion or mobility in the thoracic spice and pelvis, placing greater stress on the lumbar spine.
Now that you know that kyphosis is, I have a challenge for you.
If you are sitting down reading this, please stand up.
Place your hand at your lower back with your feet hip-width apart. Stand tall and reach the top of your head to the sky while continuing to look forward (don’t look up). You should feel a natural curve in your lumbar spine and less forward tilt in your neck.
Round your shoulders, or simply slouch, and notice that the curve in your lower back decreases and your neck shifts forward. This kyphotic posture can place added stress on the lower back. In addition to low back pain, you may also notice shoulder pain, decreased running efficiency, negative effects on your golf swing or baseball throw and difficulty with other daily tasks that require you to reach overhead. You can feel and see that your pelvis, thoracic spine and shoulders are all inter-related.
What can you do about poor posture? The exercise below is a simple way to integrate your pelvis and upper back/shoulders while doing a common rowing exercise. This can be done at home or in your office. Perform one set of 10 repetitions two or three times per week for the best results.
It turns out my mother was right. Good posture makes a world of difference. Thanks, Mom!
Information provided by Tami Janssen, MS, ACE certified personal trainer, Ames Racquet & Fitness, 320 S. 17th St. Ames, 515-232-1911.