A dowager’s hump is a rounding of the upper back, sometimes known as an excessive kyphosis. It is strongly associated with osteoporosis or osteopenia. There are two things that you must do to help this condition from getting worse. Oh and by the way, A dowager’s hump is completely avoidable.
But firstly, Let’s have a quick look at a few facts.
Osteopenia is a narrowing of the bones whereas osteoporosis is where the bones have become porous. Osteoporosis is also avoidable and contrary to popular opinion, is not a calcium deficiency due to lack of calcium intake, it’s a calcium deficiency due to lack of calcium absorption.
Furthermore, milk is not a good source of calcium because it is not absorbed easily by the body. It is not necessary to drink milk for healthy bones. When was the last time you saw a gorilla slipping down to the shops for a pint of milk?
There are much better foods that you can eat that are absorbed readily by the body such as certain nuts and green leafy vegetables. Another thing, men are at risk of getting osteoporosis- this is not a ‘woman’s disease’. You may have seen people with dowager’s humps. They tend to affect women over 50 and you will see a rounding of the upper back, and perhaps a fatty hump at the base of the neck. The reason is that due to poor posture and weak bones due to either osteoporosis or osteopenia, the thoracic vertebrae start to collapse and become wedge shaped at the front.
I have spoken about poor posture in regards to neck pain and its damaging effects on lower back, rotator cuffs, hips, upper backs and increased risk of degenerative joint disease and here we see it again. Your posture is key!
If you spend your time sitting and standing in a slouched position you round your whole spine. This puts your neck in a forward posture, your chin juts out, this is known as the forward head posture. It is the major cause of neck pain. It also happens to be the major cause of your dowagers hump! If you think about it-osteoporosis doesn’t make your vertebrae wedge shaped at the front causing your neck to round, your posture does. The osteoporosis just makes the problem worse due to the weakness in your vertebrae.
When you sit ‘tall’ in correct posture you align the spine vertically so that your spinal curves are in correct position. It is only then that the forces on your vertebrae are evenly distributed. The spine is stacked one on top of the other very much like you stack blocks one on top of each other.
So sitting tall and standing tall you place your spine in good position, the muscles are now engaged, which makes them stronger whilst you retain good posture . The laws of gravity are now pushing down through the centre of each of your vertebrae not down through one side.
As soon as you start to slouch, whether it be standing or sitting you then put your vertebrae into flexed positions. (They are all tipping forward.) As you continue to sit and stand like this your spine starts to wear down especially so if you suffer from osteoporosis or osteopenia. The vertebrae then eventually collapse where there is excessive weight-the front portions of your vertebrae. You no longer have nice block shaped vertebrae, now you have wedges. This is an avoidable condition through correcting both your diet and posture.
Imagine the tires on your car. If they are badly aligned they will wear unevenly. One side of the tire will be fine whilst the other side takes all of the weight of the car and gets worn down very quickly. Iif you left it long enough it would collapse which is excatly what happens to your vertebrae!
The major difference is that you can get a new set of tires but not a new set of vertebrae.
If you have a dowagers hump it is essential that you do corrective exercises to retrain your muscles. Prolonged forward head posture creates major muscular imbalances and these MUST be addressed. You need to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak long ones.
Moreover, If you are doing exercises like bringing your knees to your chest, pulling your arms across your chest to stretch the backs of your shoulders and others like this you are worsening your problem! You are putting more pressure on your weakened vertebrae and stretching your already overstretched muscles.
If you want to know more check out my DVD.
It has everything you need in order to treat and remove the causes of your dowagers hump. It shows you how to correct your posture and the corrective exercises to help your dowagers hump.