The Dowagers hump used to be a posture that was only observed in older women. The name itself adds to the impression; for example, a “Dowager” is an elderly woman who has lost her husband. However, the hump of a Dowager is now seen among young people and even toddlers. Dowager’s humps are lumps or bumps that develop at the base of the back of the neck, where the spine has bent forward. While it’s normal to have a little curve on the 7th vertebrae of the neck, a Dowager’s hump is caused by an abnormal one that is more exaggerated.
Various factors can cause a Dowagers hump, but the most common cause is poor posture. If you have a Dowager’s hump because of poor posture, this is an article you should read. We’ll go through what a Dowager’s hump is, why it happens, and how to fix it using corrective exercises in tandem.
Dowagers Hump: What Causes It?
We’ve previously discussed how holding the body in an improper posture might cause a Dowagers hump. However, it is not the only reason for this. A variety of other factors can also cause it. We can find the source of a Dowagers hump in four factors in medicine.
Some people may develop kyphosis due to an incorrect vertebral column development, which can cause the spine to bend incorrectly. The spine curve generates a hump on the back as a result. The typical cause behind this abnormality is hereditary(Genetic) and may be found in family members.
A Dowagers hump is a characteristic of individuals who have Osteoporosis. It’s also because their bones will be thinner and less dense than the typical person. With age, the bones weaken, and the spine is more prone to bending and sitting in an improper posture, causing a hump to develop. This is a typical Dowagers hump in older individuals. Vitamin D and calcium supplements and a change in diet can help prevent this from happening.
A Dowagers hump is a condition that occurs when a spine has been harmed, deformed, or collapsed in such a manner that it can revert to the posture of a dowager’s hump.
The most prevalent reason why we are seeing an increase in Dowagers hump-forming among today’s young people is poor posture. This is what this post’s goal is to address. If you’re suffering from a Dowagers hump that was caused by an accident or a spinal abnormality, see a doctor. A physical therapist or doctor may be able to tell if surgery is required after a thorough medical evaluation. It would be a time-wasting to try to fix these kinds of Dowagers humps with the exercises described on this page.
Bad Posture and Dowagers Hump
One of the significant reasons why Dowagers humps have become more common today is due to increased time spent in front of a digital screen. When we look down at our smartphones, we bend the upper spine and push our heads forward, resulting in a ‘text neck.’ When you spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen or sitting at a desk, your body is subjected to the same stress.
Forward head posture is the most frequent bad posture caused by excessive screen time. The human body follows a basic guideline: whatever position you keep your body in for lengthy periods, it will adapt and change. The development of a postural Dowagers hump is caused by your body attempting to make up for a forward head posture. The average human head weighs 12 pounds. This is a significant amount of weight, given the fact that it rests on your spine.
The spine will have no trouble handling this weight as long as your head is neatly positioned above the back. However, things will change if the head is continuously pushed forward for lengthy periods. It’s been claimed that each inch the head advances forward adds another ten pounds of pressure to the neck and back. Your body will react to this extra weight in one of two ways:
The forward head puts extra strain on the base of the neck. Your body will respond by growing the bone surrounding that region, adding calcium there, and forming a bony bump. The thicker the bone in this region has to be, the more stress it will endure.
Fatty Deposit Tissue
The body will adapt to the new curves of the spine by laying more connective tissue. After a while, fatty tissue will accumulate and form a fatty hump if not enough skin is excised. It’s probable that some sort of cosmetic surgery will be required to get rid of the extra fat.
Forward Head Posture
The more forward pressure you apply to the neck, the greater the head will protrude forward into a forward head posture.
Why Is This Important?
Here are a few reasons why someone who has a Dowagers Hump should seek immediate treatment.
Having poor posture can cause discomfort and pain in the neck. This posture can also induce tension headaches. Forward head posture should be corrected to prevent this.
It’s not looking good
One of the first drawbacks you’ll notice with a Dowagers hump is that it doesn’t seem to be very attractive.
It Affects Confidence
Slumping your shoulders forward and lowering your head lowers your self-esteem. Your posture has a big influence on how you feel and how you deal with life, even if you are unaware of it. We stand up tall with our shoulders held back, and head held high, rather than lowering our upper body (such as a Dowagers hump) in a fearful fashion. When you adopt a positive, proactive attitude, it can significantly influence your life.
A dowagers hump will limit your neck and upper body area mobility. You don’t want to give up your head’s mobility if you can help it.
Other Posture Issues Can Be Caused by It
Dowagers humps have harmful consequences that extend beyond the neck and head region. Due to the forward head posture, muscular imbalances will manifest in various areas throughout the body. Your Rhomboids will typically weaken, and your chest muscles will tighten and pull your shoulders forward, rounding them. The Dowagers hump will have an impact on the entire body.
It only gets worse as time goes on
The forward head posture is frequently altered. It either improves or deteriorates. The default mode is for it to deteriorate if you aren’t working on fixing it. Our daily habits of looking at screens for longer periods and the additional stress caused by the forward head pressure at the neck only underscore this fact. The Dowagers hump is most evident among the elderly (for now), as it has been neglected for lengthy periods.
When you look at this list, you’ll be able to see why correcting a Dowagers hump is so crucial. The following section will show you some corrective exercises that you may do daily to fix the issue.
How to fix a Dowagers Hump
To begin correcting and resolving your posture, you must first ensure it is safe to do so. It is not suggested to try any of these activities if you are elderly. If you detect that your Dowagers hump has developed for any other reason than poor posture, it is usually better to visit a doctor rather than attempting to fix it on your own. Applying a little pressure on the bump and then moving the head to its new location is one method to start correcting a Dowager hump. You may employ a sock if you only want to apply slight pressure, but a massage ball can be utilized if you wish to be more forceful.
1. Correcting Forward Head Posture
Correcting the problem of forward head posture is one of the most important aspects of dealing with a Dowagers hump. As we’ve already seen, Dowagers humps are accompanied by certain muscular imbalances that must be addressed in order for the head to return and sit neatly stacked above the spine. The procedure will be to eliminate trigger points, stretch out the neck, and strengthen weak neck muscles. Here’s a brief description of the process.
Step 1: Myofascial Release of the Neck
Someone who has a forward head posture will create many tight neck muscles, pushing the neck forward. Some individuals may benefit from performing some self-massage and obtaining significant neck relief as a result. You’ll need a relatively soft massage ball to apply pressure to the neck. Gently swing the ball around your neck to massage it all over. Make sure to massage the sub-occipitals as well since these can be one of the most common reasons for being tight. The video above demonstrates how to target this muscle group.
Step 2: Stretch Out the Neck
Now that you’ve relaxed up the muscles, it’s time to start growing length in the restricted neck muscles. When stretching the neck, keep the shoulders pulled down and avoid allowing them to rise. This will assist you in achieving the required length. It’ll feel fantastic after if you’ve never stretched your neck out before!
Step 3: Strengthen the Front Neck Muscles
Without resistance, your head will move forward if you don’t have strong deep cervical flexors in the neck. Strengthening the muscles on your neck front will help you push your head back and upright without thinking about it. There are several exercises to work on these muscles, including the Wall Lean on this page. However, you may find the reclining variant of this exercise to be far more successful. This exercise is demonstrated in the video above.
2. Fixing Your Shoulder Rounding
A Dowagers hump or a forward head posture is almost certain to be seen in conjunction with rounding of the shoulders. An upper-crossed syndrome is a term used to describe the combination of a forward head posture and shoulder rounding. Trying to repair a Dowagers hump while neglecting to improve your shoulder posture will only slow you down and leave you with the upper-crossed syndrome. This video will quickly explain what upper crossed syndrome is and how to address it and provide you with a simple daily regimen to cure this condition.
Correcting Your Daily Posture & Changing Habits
Eliminating or reducing the amount of time you spend in a forward head posture is critical in straightening up your neck and correcting your posture. You may discover that all the corrective exercises will not work if you don’t address the underlying cause of your Dowagers hump (which is putting your head in a harmful posture). Here are some things to try:
Get A Standing Desk
A standing desk should assist in decreasing neck arching and forward head posture, which is common while sitting.
Keep your phone at eye level
Instead of looking down at your smartphone, hold it upright at eye level to view it. This will lessen neck tension and help you keep your head upright longer.
Raise the screen’s level
If the height of your monitor is too low, you’ll have to look downward. Raise your screen so that your head is in a more natural position. The screen may be significantly lower down if you work on a laptop, forcing you to look downwards. Consider getting a laptop stand or an external monitor to raise the height of your screen.
Stand Up Frequently
Get up at least every 20 – 30 minutes if you find yourself sitting for extended periods. This will help you break out of your muscular and body pattern.
Use Technology Less
Do you really have to glance at your phone or sit in front of a computer so often? Is it possible to ignore the ‘ding’ of a new message and check all of your messages at once every hour? When you have the opportunity, why not go for a stroll or even go running? Your body will appreciate the shift, and you’ll be revitalized afterward! These are hardly a few examples of how to save time looking downwards.
Lifestyle Change & Persistence
It will take some time to repair a dowagers hump. If your Dowagers hump is particularly severe, it’s likely that it took years to develop. It may take some time to reverse it. It will take less time to correct if you’ve recognized that you have a Dowagers hump in the making. In the end, a change in lifestyle is required to see results. It’s improbable that you’ll see remarkable improvements if you continue to maintain your old posture habits.
The goal is to return to normal posture, which will necessitate spending less time in a forward head position, either looking down at our phones or working too much in front of the computer. The effectiveness of the treatment will also be determined by your ability to recognize when you are in a forward head posture for lengthy periods and immediately break the pattern. If you follow these instructions and perform daily corrective exercises, your Dowagers hump could go away much more quickly than you anticipate.