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HEALTH When slouching becomes a pain

Help at hand for kyphosis

Lee Kennedy

Do you slump in the middle back area, the thoracic spine? Have the muscles in the front of your body become short and tight and the muscles in the back of your body become weak and overstretched, and does this cause your spine to curve backward and your head to poke forward?
This slumping of the middle back area, the thoracic spine is called a kyphosis. As the head migrates forward, it can cause chronic neck tension and can also limit our ability to breathe freely.
The collapsing chest compresses the diaphragm at the base of the rib cage, and the tightness of the intercostals restricts the lungs’ ability to expand.
Since I last touched on the subject of kyphosis in January, I have received several queries about the condition. Seems like the topic is worth revisiting.
Here are some useful daily yoga practices to help alleviate the symptoms.
Back body stretch
To stretch the back of the body, lie on your back on the floor with a rolled blanket under the middle of the back, just below the shoulder blades but not as low as the lower ribs.
Open your arms to the sides, creating 90-degree angles at the elbows and shoulders.
Alternatively, try sitting on the floor with the edge of a chair seat pressing into your middle back, and then lean back.
Let your head move toward the back of the chair, but be sure to support your head with firm pillows or your hands so you don’t hyperextend your neck.
In both positions, keep your knees bent so that you don’t over-arch your lower back. Hold each of the supported backbends for two to five minutes, and be sure that you can breathe normally throughout.
These simple stretches can be the most effective way to stretch connective tissue.

Front body stretch
Lie face down on the floor with your arms by your sides. Lift your nose and breastbone three to four inches from the floor.Keep your hips on the floor to protect your lower back from overarching.  It’s best not to lift your head higher than a few inches from the floor and keep your gaze on the floor rather than on the wall in front of you. Over time, build your endurance so you can hold this pose for 30 seconds and repeat it three or four times.

Lee Kennedy
qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit Yogadara.com or call 0863906343 for more information.