Hello, Naomi here, I’ve been a Massage Therapist for almost ten years, helping people to overcome their postural problems. There are three common types of postural problems, they will each be examined and explained within this article. I will also provide information on what you can do to help the problem and attempt to combat them.
Kyphosis is used to describe the curving of the back which leads to the top of the back rolling forward and causing a ‘hunchback’. The shoulders appeared curved and the scapulas are positioned further away from the spine. The chin also protrudes forward instead of being tucked neatly under the head.
It is caused by a plethora of factors including degenerative diseases, injuries, muscular conditions and problems such as slipped disks and also bad posture during adolescents, sometimes it will develop later in life, sometimes due to stress or a change in job which causes a stooped and rounded posture.
For some it can lead to pain, tiredness and in some causes breathing problems because the chest wall is not open as it should be.
Kyphosis can affect other areas of the body as the curve increases. The muscles in the upper back become out of balance and the pectoral, scapula muscles (shoulder blades) and internal rotators (within shoulders) will begin to tighten as they readjust to their new position, this in turn may lead to a weakness in the lateral and upward rotators in the shoulders. This causes a loss of strength in these areas. Due to the protrusion of the chin the sternocleidomastoid (neck muscle) becomes incredibly tight and uncomfortable which can lead to headaches.
There are several treatments for Kyphosis but they all depend on the severity of the diagnosis. If the spine is in the early stages of curvature then massage and stretches can be extremely beneficial. Massage can help relax the tight muscles and help release them from the facia, which in turn will help stop tight muscles pulling on the spine and other bones. Deep Tissue Massage techniques will be given to the pectoral (minor) rotators, scalene, trapezius, rhomboids and upper thoracic erector spinae muscles. Once the muscles are loose and relaxed then it may be an idea to visit your chiropractor to be realigned. For more serious kyphosis surgery may be required but afterwards massage can be used to keep the muscles loose and help with developing stronger postural muscles to stop it reoccurring.
Lordosis is an increase in curve in the spine. It is caused by certain muscles around the hip and lower back becoming tight such as the erector spinae and the hip flexors, whilst others such as the abdominals and the hip extensors become weaker, this presents a very inward curve in the central lower back. It is believed that if the spine is flexible and the curve can be straightened by bending forward then there is no need to seek help. But for some this curve can lead to lower back pain and can become uncomfortable as the muscles tighten often going into spasm. For some it can impede fitness routines as the muscles have very little mobility. Massage can really help with the release of tight muscles and help with the pain associated with Lordosis, the best treatment for Lordosis is to strengthen the core muscles and help loosen the lower back; so massage combined with exercise will be the best medicine, loosen the back muscles and tighten the abdomen muscles, some strong balancing and awareness of posture and lordosis can be cured.
Both Kyphosis and Lordosis occur naturally to a certain degree in everyone as the spine’s natural shape has a slight curve at the top and the bottom this enables the spine to deal with any daily impact. Only when these curves become exaggerated can they become a problem. The third common postural problem is another curvature of the spine but unlike Kyphosis and Lordosis it is not natural.
Scoliosis is described as the spine curving to either side of the body like ) or a (, the spine can also curve twice creating an S shape, in this circumstance the person may look straight as the curves counteract each other. The curve can impact on the ribs as it may start to pull the ribcage out of position. It is not always caused by anything in particular and can sometimes go unnoticed. Often it appears in adolescence during growth, sometimes comes about after injury because of overcompensating, it is sometimes treatable, although sometimes not fully, as with the other two, treatment varies depending on the severity. Massage can release the tightness in the muscles that are holding the vertebrae in their uneven position, sometimes this can encourage recovery of Scoliosis, often a visit to a Chiropractor after a few massage sessions can be the best prescription, although it cannot always be cured, massage will relieve the pain and discomfort caused by the curved spine.