Hunchback posture, also known as “upper crossed syndrome” affects the majority of the western population nowadays due to increase technology use, excessive low back flexion and increased time spend being sedentary.
Having a hunchback posture can make you more prone to injury in the gym and decrease strength performance in exercises like the bench press and overhead squat.
Poor Posture results from 1 of 2 things….
- A weakness in or inactivity of the muscles responsible for pulling the back upright
- Over-activity or tightness in the muscles responsible for pulling the back forward.
Another common posture related problem particularly when doing overhead pressing movements in the gym is the tendency to hike the shoulders towards the neck, rather than pressing downward and forward. It is not uncommon to see neck pain and stiffness when lifting. Many individuals that present with “upper crossed syndrome” often shrug their shoulders up when pressing (e.g. during pushups), doing dips or bench press.
They anchor their shoulders off the neck instead of into the rib cage. The easiest way to determine and correct your own technique is to video yourself doing a pushup or bench press motion. Look for the shoulders drawing towards the neck, rather than pressing forward and down into the ground.
This short resistance band drill will help with the motion of drawing the shoulders down to the ground and teach you to recognize when there is an overworking of the neck and how to adjust it.
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The good news is with some simple Strengthening exercises, foam rolling techniques and mobility drills, you can fix and reduce the effects of “upper crossed syndrome” in as little as 10min a day.
Specifically the lower Trapezius and Rhomboids are not getting enough activation and strengthening in order to pull your back upwright.
1. WALL SLIDES (3 sets of 8 reps)
Stand heels, upper back, shoulders and arms against the wall. The goal is to slide your hands up and down mimicking a shoulder press movement pattern. Don’t compensate by arching your back and loosing contact with the wall as you raise your arms up.
Instead flatten your lower back before starting the movement by engaging your abs and keeping this contact as you perform the movement.
You should feel strong activation in your upper back, NOT in your shoulders or traps. If you need to make this movement easier, move the feet further away from the wall.
2. PRONE “Y’s” ( 3 sets of 8 reps)
Press your arms and raise them to the level of your head while keeping them straight
Hold the top position for 1-2 sec and then come back down and repeat the movement.
It’s important you don’t compensate by arching your lower back or sticking your head forward during the movement. You should feel a strong contraction in your back as you do the exercise.
MOBILITY & STABILITY
3. Foam Roller (3-5 min)
Lay with foam roller in the middle of your back hands placed over the head. Lift the hips and slowly roll up and down to loosen upper back. Lower hips down and then place foam roller between shoulder blades.
Take a deep breath in and as you exhale extend over the foam roller while holding head to release tension in the neck. Repeat the process getting a little lower on the back each time. Avoid the area of the lower back directly above the sacrum.
4. Behind the neck shoulder mobility drill ( 15-20 reps)
This can be done with a broomstick or resistance band. Stand straight and use very wide overhand grip on the stick. Take the arms overhead and behind your neck, returning to the start position while maintaining straight arms throughout the movement.
The narrower the grip, the more shoulder mobility you will need. Start with a wide grip and gradually narrow your grip over time.
You can also perform this movement lying down with your forehead in contact with the ground. This will incorporate a little lower trap and rhomboid involvement to help strengthen them.
Now its time to give that routine a go!
Altogether it should take you less than 10 minutes a day. Ideally perform this every day. Always be mindful of your posture throughout the day whether it be sitting or standing. Imagine someone pulling your body with string. Everything should be aligned!