Kyphosis is a common condition in our modern world, with many people suffering from it due to work, sports, and training. But, what is kyphosis, and does cycling contribute to it?
What is kyphosis?
Kyphosis is the name given to the condition where the shoulders hunch forwards and the upper back rounds - think of a fishing hook where the curve is at the top - this is what (an exaggerated) kyphotic torso looks like.
Kyphotic physiques generally come from two causes:
- Being in a position where the shoulders hunch forwards a lot, for example, office jobs, golf, cycling, boxing, and giving massage
- Over-training the frontal area of the torso with the lower back weaker, meaning you begin to slump forwards (very common in young males)
Take a photo of yourself from the side, looking completely natural and have a look at your shoulder area, do they hunch forwards? If so, you may have, or be developing this condition.
How to cure kyphosis
Kyphosis can be cured easily, but it can require some patience based on how far in you are (a lot of people do not realise they slump until they are told or notice it). As such it can take a while to retrain the bodies posture. To fix this, incorporate some front and back ratios into your weekly schedule.
Front (anterior) and back (posterior) ratios are a great way to combat kyphosis. For cycling, I always recommend three pulling exercises to every one push exercise, this is known as a 3:1 ratio, here is an example of the moves you could perform to correct kyphosis:
- Barbell bench press
- Bent over row
- Dumb Bell reverse fly
- Pull up (or inverted row)
Here you have three back (posterior) exercises to one front (anterior) exercise. In doing this you are still keeping the upper body strong on all angles but are also using more of the backs muscles. This will encourage more movement and result in the shoulders sitting back more naturally, meaning your posture will improve. This also improves your comfort on and off the bike.
You can also add in exercises like deadlifting, stiff leg deadlifts, and rack pulls, instead of machine-based movements. These exercises are great for the posterior chain (the chain of muscles on the back of your body) and emphasise good posture.
Ultimately, doing these movements will begin to pull your shoulders back and your chest out, lessening the rounding of your shoulders and bringing you into a stronger position while standing, or sitting down on the bike.
Is cycling bad for your posture?
If left unmanaged, cycling can be bad for your posture, and can increase the chance of developing kyphosis, but it is easily managed once you understand that you are developing this physique and can be worked on with ease.
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About The Author: Adam Copley
Adam is a self-employed coach based in Sheffield, UK. Alongside this he is an avid cyclist and competes in cross country mountain biking across the UK. He has raced Cyclocross during the winter and is also a huge lover of road cycling. While he's not working on his business, he is usually out on two wheels getting fitter, and enjoying the fresh air and many climbs in the peak district.