Have you noticed, either on yourself or others, a slight 'hump' on the lower neck/upper back area?
I have on myself, so naturally, I've researched to see what can be done to prevent it developing.
Often called a Buffalo or Dowager’s. ‘Dignified older lady’ is the definition of Dowager, which I think is rather charming. The Hump is not some Marvel Comic character, it's medical term is Kyphosis and in advanced cases results in a pronounced bent-over posture. Kyphosis can be the result of advanced osteoporosis, the vertebrae of the spine become so porous that they can weaken and often fracture.
Let's look at the beginning of a hump, to see if there is anything we can do to avoid its appearance in our lives.
The key is posture: it is essential to keep the spine straight and in correct alignment, all day, every day.
The Alexander Technique is excellent to re-educate the body and gently encourage it away from bad postural habits. If you don’t have a practitioner near you,
what can you do yourself?
Strengthen the abdominal girdle so that the back is not having to do work it was not designed to do. Check your posture right now. No, don’t straighten up, how are you really sitting, what is the cold honest truth? Are you a true couch potato; slumped in the chair, tummy relaxed and protruding, back curved, neck bent and head thrown back as you focus through your glasses?
Not using the right glasses, or relying on the restricted view of verifocals, when using the computer can be doing you no favours whatsoever. In addition, way too much use of the cellphone can contribute to neck problems.
A good investment to consider, would be a pair of specs just for computer use. I have to admit, this is my key postural problem and am heading out in January to replace my 'computer glasses' (which my dog thought he'd eat for a light snack!). I keep them on the computer, they are large and they are made SPECIFICALLY for the distance my main computer screen is from my eyes. They make such a difference because NOT using them for a few weeks, following Merlin's antics, I'm noticing a 'heat' in that C6, 7 and 8 area, I know that area is being compromised and I MUST do something now to prevent further damage. So believe it or not, until I get my new specs, I'm sitting here typing with a book on my head (more about that later).
I talked above about encouraging the abdominal girdle to do it's structural job in keeping your upright, rather the the spine doing all the work. Here is a simple exercise (from Pilates) and one you can do anywhere, anytime; in fact do it RIGHT NOW :
Suck your navel right in, try and get it to touch your spine [remember in the 60’s when we squeezed ourselves into tight jeans, lying on the floor with a coat hanger in the zip, slowly zipping it closed? Well, that’s the feeling; breathing your tummy in as far as it will go to get into a pair of tight trousers].
Release it 50% and stay with that for as long as you can. In reality that is how our abdominal girdle should be engaged all the time.
You might not believe me, but if you could get that girdle working efficiently, myriad back problems would magically disappear as the abdominal muscles do the job they were designed to do and the back can stop troubleshooting. In addition, with improved posture the organs have more room in which to function. The ultimate benefit of course, is you will immediately look slimmer and younger - no need for a surgical tummy tuck!
Place the heel of your right hand on your forehead with your fingers curled over your head.
Note where your middle finger lands and imagine a thin silver cord stretching from this precise point up to the sky.
The cord tightens and pulls you up off your heels.
Stay there for a second and then gently lower the heels keeping the head and neck in position.
Ensure you are ‘tummy tucking’, breathing normally and smiling.
Remove the hand from above the head and with the middle finger gently push the chin in/back towards the spine, only a tiny amount; this will have the effect of further correcting the position of the neck.
You are probably sitting or standing there feeling a little odd in this position but it is the posture you should be aiming for all the time.
Stagnation is your enemy. So keep everything moving in the neck and upper back by exercise, stretching, massage and hairbrush tapping [using a cheap plastic hairbrush, lightly tap the area with the spiky side of the brush, it is as if 100 little fingers are stimulating the area].
Do a little self-reflexology and firmly massage all around the base of the big toe, down and around the bunion joint.
Work from within by keeping well nourished with a healthy diet. The chemicals in convenience and processed foods can play havoc with our bone health. Keep the joints well oiled with supplements such as Flaxseed Oil, Eskimo Oil or Udo’s Choice Oil capsules.
Water is key to everything, so drink lots to ensure you are not suffering from dehydration.
Do the Hook Up
Place the middle finger of the right hand in the navel
The middle finger of the left hand goes on the 3rd eye in the space between your eyebrows.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply, press in with both fingers and gently pull up.
Stay in this ‘hook up’ position for 20 seconds as it will encourage the flow of energy up the spine.
If energy flows through an area, health improves. The Hook Up encourages the flow of energy along the entire Microcosmic Circuit that runs straight through our Kyphosis area.
Emotionally, any stiffness in the body reflects stiffness in the mind: is a lack of mental mobility contributing to the problem? Quietly contemplate; are there any areas in your life, thinking or attitude where you are becoming too rigid and could benefit from you lightening up, being more flexible?
Bones are associated with Water Element which governs ‘fear’ in our lives; what are you fearful of? Confront it, pick it to pieces in your mind, it is often not as bad as we imagine. Let go of the fear and start believing that ‘all will be well’.
Yoga is a gentle yet effective way to spinal health. I even saw a report of an elderly lady with a really pronounced Kyphosis actually reduce it with yoga !
Try looking over the left shoulder as far as you can, keeping the girdle engaged and posture correct.
Repeat on the right hand side.
Return your head to the centre and lower your right ear to your right shoulder [don’t cheat and lift the shoulder]. Repeat on the left side.
Hold all these movements for a minimum of 10 seconds.
End by letting the head fall forward and slowly rolling it around to the left, back to centre and then around to the right, returning to centre.
Lift it up slowly. [never, ever throw your head straight back, it can result in injury].
Obviously do not attempt any form of neck exercise if you are injured in that area, always check with your Doctor first.
BOOK BALANCING. Finally, when I was a schoolgirl we were made to walk around the classroom with a book balanced on our heads – sounds very Victorian doesn’t it but you know, they had some pretty good ideas.
Try it right now and watch your posture instantly improve – think of how straight and upright native women can appear when carrying bundles on their heads.
Try and get up out of the chair and walk around the room with the book balancing.
When you are sitting at the computer, keep a lightweight book on your head to prevent you slipping down into damaging posture.
We should be in good posture all the time, not just a couple of minutes a day. So, place ‘post it notes’ around your home, office and car and every time you notice one, do one of the techniques featured in this article, over time you will begin to re-educate and reprogramme your body into flexibility and strength – it is never too late to start.... in fact, TUMMY TUCK RIGHT NOW!