Avoid the Hump

February 10, 2011

We all have that aunt, uncle or grandparent that we love dearly but pray we will never end up looking like because of that hump they have on their back. Is it inevitable that as we age we will begin to resemble the Hunchback of Notre Dame…absolutely not! But in order to ensure this you have to start taking the proper steps now.

The hump is medically referred to as Dowager’s Hump. It is caused by a hyperkyphosis, or abnormal outward curvature of the thoracic spine. It is generally brought on by osteoporosis of the spine. With age the bones of the spine begin to weaken due to bone loss.  If there is too much pressure on the anterior portions of the bone they will begin to wedge or fracture and cause a hump like appearance in the upper back. It is found in men and women and like osteoporosis if the proper steps are taken it is completely preventable.

There are two main steps you can take in order to prevent a Dowager’s Hump from forming:

1)      Maintain strong healthy bones – it is a biological certainty that as we age our body less easily absorbs calcium and actually starts resorbing it from our bones. Therefore it is important that we do what we can to build up our calcium supplies and slow the process of resorption. One way to do that is to take in more calcium and the other ingredients like magnesium and Vitamin D that our body needs to absorb it. The best way to do that is to eat foods from nature that contain these essential nutrients and if you are not getting enough from your food, supplement your diet with a high quality supplement. Another way to ensure strong healthy bones is through weight bearing exercise. Bone grows to stress, so if you put good stress on your bones by doing weight bearing exercises they will begin to thicken and become stronger.  As a result you will have more bone mass as you get older.

2) Improve Posture – posture is one of the biggest predictors for Dowager Hump development.  If you do not maintain good posture throughout your life then you are constantly placing abnormal stress on the spine. As stated earlier, it is this abnormal pressure that accelerates the development of osteoporotic compression fractures. One of the most common abnormal postures in society today is Anterior Head Syndrome – where the head sticks out forward past the shoulders. This is largely due to prolonged time staring at a computer.  Believe it or not this is very hard on your body. Every inch your head is in front of your shoulders equates to 10 times more force that the muscles, nerves, and bones in your upper back are supporting that they shouldn’t have to. Along with the neck pain, shoulder pain and headaches this can cause, it also leads to the formation of a Dowager’s Hump. Have your posture checked by a professional that focuses on posture and the structure of the spine before you start to look like your great Aunt Mary!

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