November Newsletter: Yoga can improve your posture into old age

Old couple does yoga

Yoga Can Help You Protect Your Posture as You Age

Could you be at risk for a hunchback or another age-related posture problem? Whether you want to avoid posture woes in the future or have already noticed a change in the way you sit or stand, yoga offers a simple solution. The mind/body practice keeps your muscles and bones strong and may help prevent humps and other posture issues.

How Your Posture Changes Throughout the Years

Wrinkles are the most noticeable signs of aging, but they're far from the only changes that happen to your body. As the years pass, muscle mass decreases, while bones weaken. These changes may soon to lead to posture issues and neck or back pain.

Osteoporosis, a disease that affects the bones, is responsible for some posture problems. Older people, particularly women, are more likely to develop the bone disease. Osteoporosis weakens bones and makes them more porous.

Age-related changes in the rubbery discs between the vertebrae in the spine also contribute to posture issues. Over time, the discs degenerate and become flatter and less flexible. These changes make it more difficult for the spine to maintain its normal curve.

As a result of these issues, your head begins to tilt forward, while your upper spine curves, which may cause an unsightly or uncomfortable hump in your back. Weak core muscles are another factor in posture changes. The muscles in your abdomen, back, hips and pelvis support your spine and bones and are essential for good posture. If they become weak, your posture may suffer.

Posture changes aren't just a cosmetic issue. A hunched spine decreases the space needed for rib expansion and may make it difficult to take a deep breath. Poor posture also affects your balance and may increase your risk of falls. Back and neck pain, headaches, and decreased energy are other consequences of age-related posture changes.

4 Posture-Enhancing Benefits of Yoga

Practicing yoga is an excellent way to maintain your good posture. Benefits of yoga include:

  • Sturdy Bones. Weight-bearing exercise like walking, strength training, dancing, tennis, and running exert pressure on bones need to remain strong. Your yoga practice may also include a variety of weight-bearing poses, such as the tree, locust, and triangle poses. Does osteoporosis run in your family? Yoga could help you reduce your risk of broken bones. Just 12 minutes of daily yoga improved bone density in the spines and femurs (thigh bone) in people with osteoporosis, according to a research study that appeared in Topical Geriatric Rehabilitation in 2016.
  • Strong Muscles. Many of the same poses that strengthen your bones also offer advantages for your muscles. Want to strengthen your core? Add the plank, boat, bridge, lunge, standing camel, and chair poses to your yoga regimen. Strengthening your core is particularly important if you want to maintain good posture as you age. According to a study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, elderly people who participated in 8 weeks of core strength training saw significant improvements in stability and weight distribution.
  • Improved Flexibility. Tight muscles, ligaments and tendons can affect the alignment of your spine and lead to imbalances that affect your posture. Yoga poses keep muscles and tissues flexible, help you avoid imbalances, and improve your range of motion.
  • Lower Stress. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause headaches, increase your blood pressure, and may also decrease bone density. According to a systematic review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, an increase in cortisol, parathyroid hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone in elderly people can play a part in bone loss. Yoga naturally decreases stress, helping your lower your cortisol level.

Ready to improve your posture with yoga? Join one of our classes and enjoy the many benefits yoga offers.

Sources:

Journal of Clinical Medicine: Osteoporosis from an Endocrine Perspective: The Role of Hormonal Changes in the Elderly, 10/1/2019

Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: 12-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Lose, 4/2016

Journal of Physical Therapy Science: Effects of Core Muscle Stability Training on the Weight Distribution and Stability of the Elderly

MUSC Health: Posture Change with Age

BMC Geriatrics: Changes in the Body Posture of Women Occurring with Age, 10/12/13

Livestrong: 3 Ways Your Posture Changes with Age and What You Can Do About It 5/2/2022

Yoga Journal: Yoga for Better Posture: Strengthen Your Back to Prevent Slouching, 8/28/2007

Silver Sneakers: 7 Yoga Poses for Better Posture, 2/26/2018