By Dawn Miller
Have you ever been told to “sit up straight” or “stop slouching?” It’s true that good posture is a key to health, vitality, and aging well! Your bones are well-aligned and the muscles, joints, ligaments, and organs can function optimally. Poor posture, on the other hand, contributes to headaches, back pain, fatigue, and joint stiffness and pain. As spinal misalignment becomes more serious, problems develop with breathing, digestion, and balance.
The body gradually reshapes itself over time through changes in muscle, connective tissue, and bone structure in response to your postural habits. Therapeutic yoga provides tools to build postural awareness, change dysfunctional postural habits, and in many cases reverse or lessen worsening spinal alignment.
What is Hyperkyphosis?
A healthy human spine has gentle natural curves that help it absorb stress from body movement and gravity. Poor posture, however, can lead to excessive curvature, particularly in the upper back. One of the most serious postural changes is hyperkyphosis, an excessive curve in the upper spine often referred to as Dowager’s Hump. Subtle changes leading to hyperkyphosis begin many years, even decades, before it’s really visible. Although it was previously thought that hyperkyphosis is the result of bone fractures from osteoporosis, research indicates that in up to 70% of people with hyperkyphosis, the spinal misalignment is due to years of poor posture and associated muscular changes.
Poor Health Associated with Hyperkyphosis
Hyperkyphosis leads to a range of health problems: back pain, restricted range of motion, difficulty getting out of a chair, decreased mobility, anxiety, and depression. In its more severe form, hyperkyphosis results in decreased lung function, increased pulmonary disease, and impaired organ function overall. Older women with hyperkyphosis have a 70% greater risk of bone fracture and the risk increases as the condition progresses. This is because hyperkyphosis creates significant impairments in balance and raises the risk for falling.
Improving Your Posture with Therapeutic Yoga
The good news is that you can change your posture! The therapeutic use of yoga provides tools to build postural awareness, change dysfunctional habits, and improve spinal alignment. A well-trained and experienced yoga therapist can assess postural alignment, identify specific areas of muscular weakness and tightness, and recommend a customized set of home practices to help improve posture and support overall health. To find out more or to schedule an assessment, visit www.northcoastwellness.com or call 216.269.6824.
Dawn Miller, MA is a yoga therapist and registered Viniyoga teacher. She teaches private and therapeutic yoga sessions at multiple locations in NE Ohio including Connor Integrative Medicine Network at University Hospitals and Partners to Empowerment Wellness Center. She also teaches onsite yoga classes for workplace wellness programs.