Your spine is made up of five separate sections, all of which are curved. The inward curves are called lordotic curves whilst the outward curves are called kyphotic curves. When these curves become excessive you can develop problems with your spine such as back pain. Because of modern-day posture caused by long periods sat at your computer or watching TV, your upper spine can develop an excessive outward or kyphotic curve which presents as rounding of the upper back and a forward head position. There are a number of things you can do to avoid developing an excessive kyphotic curve, which is correctly termed hyper kyphosis.
Soft Tissue Release using a Foam Roller
Lying face up on a foam roller and performing soft tissue release can help to reposition your spine and is a lot like having a massage. Foam rollers are available from sporting goods stores and in 2010 cost around $15.00. You should spend 5 minutes a day using a foam roller to maximize its effectiveness but be careful not to overdo it. If you are overly aggressive with your rolling you may make your back sore.
Door way Chest Stretch
Kyphosis is, in part, caused by overly tight chest muscles. When your chest muscles shorten and become tight they pull your shoulders forwards and inwards which can increase your kyphotic curve. Stretch your chest by using a standard doorway. Standing in an open door way and place your elbows on the door frame at shoulder height. Bend your elbows to 90 degrees with your hands flat on the door frame. Keep your elbows in place and lean through the door to gently stretch both sides of your chest at the same time. As you feel your chest muscles relaxing, increase the depth of the stretch. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times every day.
Strengthening the muscles in your mid-back can help to draw your shoulder blades back and lessen your kyphosis. Attach two rubber exercise bands to a sturdy anchor at chest height. Grasp a band in each hand. Keeping your elbows level with your shoulders and held out wide, pull the band towards your face-hence the name of the exercise. Concentrate on keeping your elbows up and your wrists straight. Pause for 1 to 2 seconds in the most contracted position before slowly returning to the start. Repeat for 15 to 20 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between sets. This exercise can also be performed using an adjustable pulley.
Standing Wall Angels
This exercises strengthens the muscles between your shoulder blades but does so isometrically. This means that although your muscles are working, they don’t actually move. Your muscles often work isometrically to maintain your posture. Stand 12 inches away from a wall and lean back against it. Keeping your head against the wall, raise your arms and place your elbows against the wall. Bend your arms to 90 degrees and place the backs of your hands against the wall. You should now be in a “stick ‘em up” position. Slowly slide your hands up the wall as far as your flexibility allows while pushing your elbows against the wall. Once you have reached up as far as you can, slowly lower your arms until your elbows are level with your shoulders. Perform 8 to 12 repetitions, resting 60 seconds between sets.