Have you ever caught yourself hunching over a desk, slouching while scrolling through your phone, or experiencing discomfort in your upper back? You're not alone! Our personal trainers regularly help our clients with postural issues including kyphosis (the medical name for upper back rounding). It’s safe to say that poor upper back posture has become increasingly common in our modern sedentary lifestyles.
In this blog post, we will delve into the root causes of this issue and provide you with actionable steps to fix it. So, let's straighten up and restore balance to our upper backs!
First of all we need to understand the causes of poor posture, here are some (but not all) of the reasons-
Prolonged Sitting and Sedentary Lifestyle:
Spending long hours seated, whether at a desk, in front of a screen, or during commutes, can contribute to poor upper back posture. Slumping or hunching forward places excessive strain on the upper back muscles, leading to muscle imbalances and discomfort.
Weak Upper Back and Core Muscles:
Insufficient strength in the upper back and core muscles can contribute to poor posture. When these muscles are weak, they struggle to support the upper body and maintain proper alignment. As a result, the upper back may round forward, leading to postural issues.
Forward Head Position:
Often caused by excessive screen time and poor ergonomics, a forward head position can create a domino effect on your posture. It places added stress on the neck and upper back muscles, causing them to overwork and leading to a rounded upper back posture.
Lack of Postural Awareness:
Many people simply lack awareness of their posture throughout the day. Without conscious effort, it's easy to fall into bad habits, such as slouching or hunching, which perpetuate poor upper back posture. Our personal trainers spend a lot of time with our clients trying to increase the awareness surrounding posture and alignment but in this day and age, nearly everything is set up to make us sit and stand in bad positions!
So now we know what causes kyphosis, the next step is to start correcting it..
Ergonomics and Environment:
Evaluate and optimize your work and home environments to promote better posture. Ensure your chair, desk, and computer setup are ergonomically sound. Position your screen at eye level and maintain a neutral spine alignment while sitting.
Upper Back Strengthening Exercises:
Strengthening your upper back muscles will really help you maintain proper posture in your thoracic spine and shoulder blade area. If those muscles are strong enough to hold your posture you shouldn’t have a problem with keeping your chest up and shoulders back if you’re aware of it. However, if your upper back muscles are weak and disengaged, you’ll have trouble keeping everything in check no matter how hard you try.
Try these simple exercises to help strengthen your upper back
Scapular Retractions: Sit or stand with good posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, as if trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for a few seconds, release, and repeat for several sets. You can also use a resistance band to make it a bit more difficult like in the video below
Rows: Using resistance bands, dumbbells, or a cable machine, perform rowing exercises to strengthen the upper back muscles. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together with each rep.
Core Strengthening: A strong core provides a stable foundation for good posture. Incorporate exercises like planks, bridges, and bird dogs to strengthen your core muscles, which in turn support the upper back. Check out our blog about our top 5 core exercises here.
Stretching and Mobility Exercises
Chest Opener Stretch: Stand in a doorway with your forearms resting against the door frame. Gently lean forward to stretch the chest muscles. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat several times.
Upper Back Stretch: Interlock your fingers and extend your arms in front of you, rounding your upper back and feeling a stretch between the shoulder blades. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat several times.
Posture Awareness and Corrections
Regularly check in with your posture throughout the day. Adjust your positioning, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chest. Practice mindful posture until it becomes a habit.
By understanding the causes of poor posture and implementing these strategies, you can reclaim a strong and aligned upper back. Remember, consistency and self-awareness are essential. Over time you’ll start to progress with a conscious effort to improve your posture, both at work and in your free time!
If you'd like to work on your posture more or just strengthen your body then you can book in for a free trial personal training session at our Hove studio- just click the link below to get started!