Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Looking at Dowager's Hump

A few weeks ago, I finished a book aptly names "Power Posture", by Lee Parore. It is a very good book that really emphasizes strengthening the body's center base (pelvis to thoracic spine). When you really think about it, having optimal posture is about protecting the spine during movement. The spine serves as the chassis for the human body and we are only as strong, erect, and powerful as the condition of the spine is. That is why most corrective exercise emphasizes on maintaining an optimal posture and strengthening any weak links to ensure that the spine is maintained through physical activity and life.

The book also touched up upon something that I have been seeing my some of my overweight patients--mostly women up-wards in age--that I think most of you have seen.

Dowager's hump is a condition mostly seen in women (however some men can develop it also), that develops during advanced stages of osteoporosis. Exacerbated by poor posture, when one's posture is slouched over (kypohsis) for long periods of time (years) and a weight gain occurs, the spine begins to "bow". Much like the shape of a bow (bow and arrow), gravity continuously pulls the mass forward. If there is a pronounced weight-gain anteriorly (belly fat), the condition of the posture worsens. As the process of kyphosis (slouched over) progresses, slight fractures in the vertebrae may occur. This process is due to aging and the onslaught of osteoporosis. As the condition advances, a "hump" forms at the base of the neck. Sometimes, the hump is made up of fatty tissue or flesh in overweight individuals. This condition was terms "Dowager's"--meaning dignified elderly woman--because it is typically seen in aging females.

As a fitness professional, what can you do to help your clients or friends prevent the unsightly appearance of Dowager's hump?

1.) Practice good posture - it doesn't matter how many corrective exercises for posture you place in an exercise program; if they do not practice optimal posture during the day excessively, your exercises will never win.

2.) Consistency with good posture - building optimal posture is about consistency. Everyday gravity is waging a war on static muscles to "let go" and release; pulling the spine into a "bow". Combating this is very important through awareness in seated positions, walking, and standing for prolonged periods of time.

3.) Work the back - poor posture is a combination of weakness of the posterior muscles and overly strong anterior muscles. Maintain your back muscles--specifically the rhomboids, erectors, low traps, teres minor, infraspinatus, and glutes--strong through corrective exercise designed to target those areas.

4.) Move! - if you are upwards in age and overweight, it is time to lose the excess weight. See a nutritionist and follow a healthy eating plan. Combine that by following a sound exercise program or simply move more! If you are upwards in age, join a class that involves others in a social atmosphere and move!

Hope this helps you to understand what that meaty looking hump is on your overweight client or aunt's neck base is. Read more about Dowager's hump here.

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