In attaining better health and fitness, understanding how our body works is crucial. When it comes to movement, posture plays a significant role. In a world where many of us spend long hours seated at a desk and hunched over a computer, postural disorders such as kyphosis and lordosis are becoming increasingly common. While these terms might sound unfamiliar, they refer to conditions that affect the curvature of the spine, potentially impacting posture and causing pain. Despite their differences, both can lead to discomfort. Straightening of lumbar lordosis or thoracic kyphosis may not be as simple to fix as just addressing symptoms. The details of both conditions, comparing their similarities, contrasting their differences, and exploring potential solutions through Functional Patterns (FP) will be addressed.
Kyphosis: A Closer Look
Kyphosis, often associated with a 'hunched' or 'slouched' posture, is characterized by an exaggerated outward spine curvature away from the front of the body. It is most commonly in the upper region of the back or known as thoracic kyphosis. This condition leads to rounded shoulders and a forward tilt of the ribcage, which are usually accompanied by shortened upper abdominal and pec muscles and lengthened back muscles.
Thoracic kyphosis is very common and generally regarded as treatable but cannot be cured, affecting more than 3 million people in the US per year.1 Kyphosis in the neck or lower back is most likely found in a much more rare disease or trauma and is typically not associated with thoracic kyphosis.
There are numerous exercises that can help manage kyphosis. However, a primary focus of FP is not just to perform exercises, but to understand and target the underlying muscle imbalances and postural habits that lead to kyphosis in the first place. For instance, kyphosis often results from the shortening of the upper abdominal and pectoral muscles and the lengthening and weakening of the upper back muscles. By addressing these imbalances, FP exercises can be highly effective in correcting kyphosis.
Lordosis: The Inward Curve
On the other hand, lordosis involves an exaggerated inward spine curvature away from the back of the body. A distinct 'arch' in the lower spine occurs in lumbar lordosis, often resulting in a protruding abdomen and buttocks. Lumbar lordosis is common, affecting more than 200,000 people in the US per year and is similar to kyphosis being treatable but not curable.1
This condition can cause significant discomfort and lower back pain, particularly during activities that put strain on the lumbar region. Much like with kyphosis, muscle imbalances play a significant role in the development of lordosis.
It's important to understand that while kyphosis mainly affects the upper back, lordosis mainly affects the lower back or neck. Yet, they share common consequences, such as back pain, reduced mobility, and potential impacts on organ function.
The Impact of Kyphosis and Lordosis
Exercises are a critical part of the solution for kyphosis and lumbar lordosis, but not all exercises are created equal. Simply straightening of lumbar lordosis could cause unnecessary pain in certain positions. The effectiveness lies in the precision and relevance of the movements. The secret is not just in doing exercises targeting symptoms, but in doing the right ones that relate to how humans evolved to move.
These two conditions can coexist in what is known as kypholordosis. In such cases, the body's adaptations to maintain balance can result in an overly curved lower back (lordosis) and an overly curved thoracic. A cervical lordosis and anterior pelvic tilt can be present to compensate for kypholordosis, leaving it challenging for someone to move efficiently if stuck in this posture.
At FP, we have demonstrated before and after results with thousands of people that the right approach can significantly improve kyphosis and lordosis. It involves a comprehensive strategy that considers the body as an interconnected system, rather than just symptoms or as isolated parts.
Functional Patterns as a Solution
Functional Patterns offer an effective solution to both straightening of lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis. The FP approach revolves around the FP “Big 4” - standing, walking, running, and throwing. Optimizing these foundational movements humans evolved to perform the most, addresses the root cause of postural imbalances and pain.
Training within the FP framework can help reorient your body for more symmetrical and efficient movement, preventing worsening kyphosis and lordosis. FP is a universal solution, applicable irrespective of how the postural curve was formed. FP can help with kyphosis and lordosis that is from lifestyle habits, like chronically looking at devices or due to a degenerative disease. Straightening of lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis requires optimizing around the FP “Big 4” in order to minimize long term consequences.
While kyphosis and lordosis are different in terms of the part of the spine they commonly affect, they typically share the problems they cause and the solutions they require. While thoracic kyphosis and lumbar lordosis can pose significant challenges in movement, there's hope in the Functional Patterns method. It offers an evolutionary perspective on exercise, focusing on the body as an integrated system rather than isolated parts. The majority of the time, correcting spinal disorders isn’t as easy as just straightening of lumbar lordosis and thoracic kyphosis. No matter the curve or the cause, Functional Patterns can provide a path towards correction and optimal spinal health.
If you're interested in Functional Patterns and improving your posture, we recommend you to find a FP Practitioner near you.
Learn more about Functional Patterns and the spine in the following resources:
- Solve Slouching: How To Prevent A Kyphotic Posture
- Is it Normal to have Lower Back Pain from Squats? – Functional Patterns
- Top 3 Tips For Sciatica
- How to Fix Lower Back Pain from Sitting – Functional Patterns
- What Is Functional Training – Functional Patterns
- ARE YOU STUCK IN A KYPHOSIS?
- At FP we do think there’s such a thing as bad posture.
- SCOLIOSIS IMPROVEMENTS
- DO PELVIC TILTS MATTER?
- ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT?
- GET RID OF CHRONIC PAIN
- "Kyphosis - Symptoms and Causes." Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 19 Oct. 2021, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kyphosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374205.