FIT EDUCATION

BLENDED LEARNING SPECIALISTS

Common postural deviations

Postural deviations
A person’s posture can deviate from an optimal spinal alignment for a number of reasons such as sustained poor postures when gaming or desk working, habitual exercise, sport imbalances, age-related conditions such as osteoporosis, injuries and congenital or genetic conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Postural abnormalities increase both stress on the spine and surrounding soft tissue structures, while decreasing the efficiency of movement. The image above shows the visual difference between optimal posture and some common postural deviations in both the anterior / posterior and lateral viewpoints including scoliosis, hyperkyphosis and hyperlordosis.

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Scoliosis
The first postural deviation from the image above is scoliosis, which is a postural deviation typically indicated by a lateral curvature of the spine greater than 10 degrees creating a C or S shape. There are two primary categories for scoliosis: structural and non-structural. Structural scoliosis is congenital or genetic where the spinal deviations are within the bone structure itself, structural scoliosis is not correctable through exercise and may require surgical intervention for improvement. More typical scoliotic deviations are that of non-structural scoliosis which occurs post injury or from unilateral loading through repetitive activity or a poorly balanced resistance training programme. Non-structural scoliosis can be significantly improved with a suitable corrective exercise programme.

The overactive muscles which become short and tight and are apparent on the concaved aspect, while the underactive muscles become lengthened and weakened and are apparent on the on the convexed aspect. Altered joint mechanics as shown in the image are dependent on types of abnormality and severity typically presenting uneven shoulders and or hips, prominent ribs and one shoulder blade appearing more prominent than the other. To improve non-structural scoliosis, we need to lengthen the concaved and strengthen the convexed musculature.
Hyperkyphosis
Another typical postural deviation is known as hyperkyphosis or upper crossed syndrome. This postural deviation is indicative of a hunched upper back appearance with rounded shoulders and often an anterior pelvic tilt. Hyperkyphosis typically affects desk or office workers, larger breasted women, very tall individuals and habitual gamers.

The overactive muscles which become short and tight in hyperkyphotic posture include the upper trapezius, pectoralis major, minor and the latissimus dorsi. The underactive muscles which become lengthened and weakened include the mid and lower trapezius, rhomboids and the serratus anterior. Altered joint mechanics as shown in the image are increased cervical extension, scapular protraction and elevation with a decreased ability for shoulder extension and external shoulder rotation. To improve hyperkyphotic posture we need to lengthen the pectoral muscles and strengthen the lower trapezius and rhomboid musculature.
Hyperlordosis
The final typical postural deviation we will look at is known as hyperlordosis or lower crossed syndrome. This is a postural deviation indicative of an excessive curve in the lower back with an anterior pelvic tilt. Hyperlordosis typically affects dancers, gymnasts, pre-natal women and obese individuals.

The overactive muscles which become short and tight in hyperlordosis include the hip flexor complex, erector spinae group and latissimus dorsi. The underactive muscles which become lengthened and weakened include the gluteals, transversus abdominis and the internal oblique. Altered joint mechanics as shown in the image are decreased hip extension, to achieve improvements with hyperlordosis we need to strengthen the abdominal core musculature, lengthen the hamstrings and erector spinae group.
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