How many times have you been told to stand up straight, to not slouch? Probably a million, right?
These days everyone’s noticing a tendency to hunch over computers, to jut the head forward, or more generally how common it is to hunch over with “bad posture.”
The thing is, it’s not bad posture, and it’s not a simple choice. For most people the issue is something called hyperkyphosis.
What is hyperkyphosis?
Hyperkyphosis is an excessive forward curvature of the spine that’s primarily caused by not moving the spine enough.
It hits all ages, all backgrounds, and all fitness levels.
I see it all the time in desk workers, the elderly, video gamers, and even in athletes. It has nothing to do with strength or fitness, but the overall way we move our body.
Modern life doesn’t require we move our upper body all that much, and so most people don’t. This lack of movement, over time, creates a frozen curvature in the spine which we then try to mask with “standing up straight.”
Unfortunately, standing up straight simply hides the issue, but it doesn’t fix it. To do that, you need to actually move the thoracic spine.
Ashley’s 4 step anti-hyperkyphosis program
Step 1: DROP YOUR RIBS
What does your rib alignment look like? Do you thrust your chest forward in order to have “good posture”?
I strongly recommend you stop.
Tilting your ribcage backwards (a move let’s call “rib thrusting”) not only hides the problem, but it makes it harder to use the muscles in our upper back.
Overtime, “standing up straight” can lead to even more hyperkyphosis.
So, step one is to drop your ribs. A good goal is to have your sternum vertical, relative to the ground.
Step 2: Stabilize the shoulderblades
Step 3: Mobilize your thoracic spine
Step 4: Get your neck involved!
These are all easy exercises you can do at home. It’s by no means a complete solution, but will get you going a long way towards improving your spinal alignment.
Bonus points, all of this is good for the shoulders too!