Stand up straight! And pay attention to your posture
We are all familiar with our mothers or teachers telling us to stand up straight and don’t slouch so much. Turns out, they might have known what they were talking about. Your certification materials talk about posture primarily with regards to lordosis, kyphosis, and sway back. There is also mention of scoliosis, which we aren’t going to get into during this blog post.
If you want to follow along, you will find posture information on the following pages:
ACE’s Essentials of Ex Sci: pages 127 - 129
ACE Group Fitness Instructor 2nd edition: pages 91 – 93
When we are looking at the anatomy of the spine, we can see that the spine has three major curves which occur naturally:
- Scoliosis – spine deviating from side to side (not covered in this post)
- Kyphotic curve – posterior curve of the thoracic spine
- Lordotic curve – anterior curve of the lumbar spine, you can also see a lordotic curve in the cervical spine, but for our post and your studies we are referring to the lumbar curve only
When the kyphotic curve is excessive, we refer to this as someone having kyphosis – usually seen with that hunchback, rounded shoulders, forward head, and sunken chest posture.
When the lumbar lordotic curve is excessive, we refer to this as someone having lordosis – usually seen with the ‘butt out’ or ‘duck’ position, where the pelvis is tilted anteriorly and the person’s rear end sticks out in back (yes, the figure on pg 128 Figure 3-24a is incorrect: the lumbar arrow should be pointing anterior rather than posterior)
With swayback we see what is referred to as the ‘laid back dude, hands in his pocket’ posture. The head and hips push forward, with the pelvis tilting posteriorly. I usually refer to this as someone leading with their hips. In order to compensate for this forward curve, the normally kyphotic curve becomes a longer posterior curve of the thoracic spine – less a hunchback and more stretched out. We also often see rounded shoulders and sunken chest with this posture as well.
Below is a good, basic, picture of the differences between the big 3. It's the short version of figure 3-24 from the Essentials manual:
You can see how the lordosis leads to the ‘duck’ position with the pelvis tilted anteriorly and the rear end (gluteus maximus region) sticking out due to the increased lordotic curve of the back.
Kyphosis has that high and tight hunchback and forward head posture due to an exaggerated or excessive kyphotic curve. Finally, with sway back we see the hips/pelvis is the most forward part of the individual, with the head doing the same. The high and tight kyphotic curve we had initially has lengthened (you can see that the posterior thoracic arrow is lower when compared to kyphosis).
Learning and understanding the curves of your back is important as you prepare for your certification exam. It also could come into importance in your exercise programming as more and more people develop that hunched over posture from hours at their desks. If you’d like another view of this topic, check out Chapter 7 on the DVD which accompanies the Essentials of Exercise Science manual (hint, it’s stuck to the inside back cover of the manual).
If you have questions, just give us a call. You can reach an Education Consultant at 1-888-825-3636 x782.