I am aware of the various protocols for correcting the upper crossed syndrome. I am working with an 80 year old man who has this problem (one of many). I am using the NASM protocols to help correct his rounding shoulder and forward head. He can not lay flat on the floor and have the back of his head touch the floor. It will dangle. He can not even draw his shoulders back flat against the wall. What I am wondering is, can one truely reverse this situation, or is it more or less easier with those whose bodies are younger? He stands a little straighter after the session, but I can tell he quickly goes back to his old posture. My client has asked doctors about the fact that he can't put his head back, and he was told to put a pillow underneath. They didn't indicate that he could ever correct this.
Thank you for your question. You are correct; most often it is much easier to correct this “situation” in a younger client due to many physiological and habitual factors. However, don’t give up! As the skeletal structures change, so do the myofascial system (muscle and its surrounding and intervening fascia). The good news is, myofascial structures given the proper load will deform in relation to lines of stress imposed on them. Therefore, with proper training, any client of any age can change to some degree. The exact degree can not be answered as it will depend on many factors.
- Improve your client's ankle extensibility as tight ankles will cause increased kyphosis.
- Improve your client's hip extensibility as tight hips will draw the body into an abnormal kyphotic curve.
- Use standing exercises instead of lying exercises to enhance thoracic mobility. For example, have your client stand in a stride stance with both arms straight out in front. While keeping the head straight, rotate (transverse plane) the arm that matches the leg that is forward around the body. The key is to pull with the ribs and not just the arm. Done correctly, the head stays straight but one arm is behind (or close to) while the other stays in the start position. You have created cervical rotation even though the head remains straight because you moved the thoracic spine under the head. This exercise works wonders for the upper quarter. Performed regularly, your client will improve upper body posture and most important – function! If this description is new to you, I strongly recommend purchasing Gary Gray’s Functional Video Digest on The Thoracic Spine. Gary explains in detail MANY options for your client’s problem.
You are on the right track. Just add our suggestions above, and if you have any further questions, please contact us!