IDEA presenter Chuck Wolf, MS, director of Human Motion Associates in Orlando, Florida, believes current methods for addressing thoracic kyphosis (aka upper-cross syndrome) may be missing a crucial element. “Historically, the fitness industry has addressed the kyphotic client by stretching the pectorals, abdominals, hip flexors and shoulder complex while strengthening the rhomboids, trapezius and erector spinae musculature,” says Wolf. “This approach, though prudent, looks at the symptoms and not the cause of the problem.”
What is the root of the problem? “Invariably, the kyphotic client presents with a posterior pelvic tilt.” Wolf suggests a more global approach to stretch the entire anterior flexibility highway and strengthen the posterior chain simultaneously. One way to do this is to get the client into a lunge position with the right leg forward. Once there the client should reach the left arm behind the body at about a 45-degree angle with the palm facing down or forward. When performed properly the lumbar spine should extend while the left shoulder blade retracts to reduce kyphosis. “If the hip flexors, abdominals, pectorals, shoulder complex and cervical flexors are stretched from this position, the posterior thoracic spine will be placed in an environment to be successfully and functionally strengthened,” Wolf adds.