There is a hidden epidemic growing in society. It is happening all around us, but while it is easily detectable with the bare eye, we’re so used to seeing it, we barely notice.
I’m talking about the widening collective slump of modern society, a.k.a. forward head posture: the frontward head head, rounded shoulders, and rounded, hunched back.
This used to be the posture of old age. Not anymore. Next time you are in a crowd of people, take a look around you. In its normal position, the head rests effortlessly on top of a straight neck with the back of the ears roughly aligned with the middle of the shoulders. How many people do you see around you whose head posture is aligned like that? Not many. And worse, this forward posture is no longer restricted to the old and feeble.
Forward head posture is not only unsightly, giving the impression of weakness and old age. It is a serious health hazard as well. If you have forward posture, you may already be suffering the chronic headaches, back, neck, and shoulder pain that results from a habitual back hunch. As if that isn’t bad enough, beneath these forward-posture symptoms a far more dangerous condition is developing: hyperkyphosis. Hyperkyphosis is the forward head posture run amok. It is the bad posture of our younger years at its extreme end of progression. And although less known than it’s infamous cousin, osteoporosis, it is just as injurious to your long-term health.
New research shows that unless you take steps to stop advancing kyphosis, it will undermine your ability to live a healthy, happy life as you get older. The greater the back hunch, the more it impairs your physical mobility. All of a sudden, it becomes difficult to perform simple daily tasks like bathing and washing. And people with a slumped posture and bad forward head are far more likely to fall and hurt themselves. As a consequence, older people with extreme forward posture are at greater risk for fractures of the hip, leg, wrist, shoulder, and arm.
But it doesn’t stop there. The forward posture of hyperkyphosis also impairs breathing, becomes the sunken chest constricts the lungs. In other words, your body is slowly being strangled! When you don’t get enough oxygen, it leads to another whole slew of problems. Simple deterioration of bodily functions is just a starter, anxiety attacks and even diabetes can result as well.
With all of this going on, it’s hardly a surprise that people with forward head posture die earlier than their peers. Studies have shown that older men and women with advanced kyphosis have as much as a 44% greater rate of mortality.
In short, if you want to live a long, happy, healthy life, take steps to avoid this source of posture pain and long-term health complications. Here are three tips to get your started.
1. Take a look at your daily habits. Nothing has a greater impact on your posture than the habitual posture you assume throughout the day. Your desk posture and having sufficient posture back support when you sit can make a big difference, particularly if you sit at your desk most of the day. The way you carry yourself when you run errands, how you sit when drive in your car or watch TV all go into shaping your posture over the long run. You’ll get the most posture improvement from simply by paying attention to your body posture throughout the day.
2. Corrective posture exercises make a big difference. They will help alleviate rounded shoulders and bad neck posture and reduce neck pain, tight shoulders, and even back pain. There are many resources for posture improvement exercises, look for some that you do comfortably at home and even while sitting at your desk.
3. Make posture correction a part of your fitness routine. Most fitness routines don’t address posture problems, in fact, if you start out with bad posture, many types of fitness can actually exacerbate the issue. The exception is yoga and Pilates, both of these types of workout help you strengthen the posture support muscles you need to strengthen your core and improve your posture.
In the long run, focusing on correction of posture is one of the best investments you can make in your health. It will impact how much energy you have, how vital and happy are, and over the long term, how well you age and how much you enjoy the later years of your life. The older you get, and the more you see your friends sinking into an increasing back hunch, the more you’ll thank yourself.
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