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  • Writer's pictureClaire Callaghan

Body language - moving well, feeling better

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

I once crossed paths with the actress Nicole Kidman in a Sydney cafe. What struck me most (apart from surprise!) was her impeccable posture and presence. It's inspiring to see what poise can convey, but this goes beyond aesthetics.

How can I make my upper back straighter?
Rounded back posture makes our shoulders droop and we lose height

Forward head posture, rounded shoulders and slumping are more problematic and painful for women as they get older, and affect how we move, feel and even how we work, walk and run. It's not just being lazy or inattentive that leads to us being hunched - though the screens don't help. So why is it that women suffer from this? Do you recognise this in yourself?

Midlife and the forward slump

Our skeleton is constantly renewing, breaking down and building up again, and the hormone oestrogen regulates this bone uptake and resorption. Oestrogen production decreases in the perimenopausal years, and once women pass through menopause, oestrogen sharply declines. Bone loss accelerates unless steps are taken to prevent this. If women's bones become thinner (osteopenic or osteoporotic) there is an increased tendency towards what's called a kyphotic posture.

This is a posture where there's a rounding of the mid back (thoracic region), bringing them further forward. It affects how we sit, stand, move, run and do any sporting activity. It can restrict breathing and the rib cage, and even how well we can move and reach when doing a racket sport like tennis or badminton.

Want to run well? Strong back muscles and a great sports bra help

Back mobility injury tennis

Which muscles need strengthening?

There are 3 key muscle groups to target - the erector spinae, "core" transverse abdominals and multifidus complex, and anterior chest muscles.

Exercises for upper back kyphosis dowagers hump
I'll share 5 favourite exercises to help eliminate the forward and rounded back (kyphotic) posture and 3 quick wins in my next blog.

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