How to fix Thoracic Kyphosis(Hunchback Posture)

An estimated 40% of older people have hunched backs that produce a hump-like appearance. Poor posture is now common in today’s society, but it isn’t restricted to the elderly. Now, you’ll notice that many young people have thoracic kyphosis, a.k.a. curved upper backs. Activities like texting, working at a computer, and slouching against the back of a chair are all examples of modern habits that contribute to this. Everyone is afflicted, and improper posture has almost become the norm, but the repercussions may be more severe than you imagined.

In this post, we’ll discuss hunchback and why you shouldn’t overlook it if you have it. Then we’ll show you how to reverse it using posture-straightening routines. Please keep in mind that this article aims to treat thoracic kyphosis resulting from muscular imbalances, not congenital kyphosis disorders such as arthritis, bone anomalies, osteoporosis, disc degeneration, or Scheuermann’s kyphosis. If your thoracic kyphosis is the consequence of one of these problems, please get in touch with a health professional immediately.

What is Thoracic Kyphosis?

The typical “hunchback” posture, in which your upper back is rounded and your chest caves inward, is called thoracic kyphosis. A person with thoracic kyphosis will have their heads tilted upward to maintain a normal line of sight instead of straight up and looking forward as they would in a good healthy posture. The term “thoracic” originates from the root word “thorax,” which refers to the biological concept of the chest. The thoracic region of your spine is located behind your chest and within your rib cage, from the back of your neck to your stomach. “Kyphosis” refers to an exaggerated outward curvature of your spine. Thoracic kyphosis, therefore, is the hunchback posture that incorporates both your chest and back.

Symptoms of Thoracic Kyphosis

Here are some reasons why you should be concerned about postural issues.

Spinal Problems

If you don’t treat thoracic kyphosis, you’ll be more likely to develop other posture issues, such as hyperlordosis—excessive lumbar curvature. If your upper back is rounded, your lower back is more prone to round the wrong way, causing your spine to over-arch and resemble an “S.”. Your vertebrae are made to stack on top of one another in a vertical column. When there is a lot of curvature throughout the spine, the discs between each vertebra must absorb a considerably greater amount of impact. This raises the danger of spinal health problems since the extra “strain” on discs restricts blood flow, which is essential for their health.

Neck Pain & Forward Head Posture

To counteract a hunched posture, you must crane your neck forward to maintain your head level. Your back is designed to bear the weight of your head, but with a forward head posture, your neck carries the entire burden of your head. Forward head posture can even double or triple the weight burden on your cervical spine, which is the region of your spine in your neck. The extra weight and unnatural posture put your spine at risk, just as hyperlordosis does. It can also induce neck muscle tension, which can cause neck discomfort and headaches.

Your appearance and confidence are both affected.

Furthermore, there’s the fact that thoracic kyphosis doesn’t look good on anybody, and how you feel is affected. Literally, how you carry yourself on a physical level reflects your confidence and self-worth as an individual. Almost everyone dislikes this posture, especially when you are still young. You can improve your posture and put your best foot forward in life if you fix it.

With age, it only gets worse.

The thoracic kyphosis you develop with age puts you at risk for neurological problems resulting from poor blood flow to the brain. The way it affects mobility is thought to be linked to an increased risk of falls and fractures in older persons. The more time you spend with thoracic kyphosis, the more likely it is to linger into your later years and the worsen it will get.

How do you recognize Thoracic Kyphosis?

It’s straightforward to detect a thoracic kyphosis. You may recall a time when your posture was decent, but it deteriorated due to excessive technology use. Thoracic Kyphosis is just one of the posture difficulties that you may have. You may have rounded shoulders without having kyphosis since your palms face behind you while standing upright with your arms dangling down. The shoulder blades stick out on your upper back when your shoulders round forward rather than remaining flat along your back. This can produce a hunchback appearance, but it isn’t the same as kyphosis. To discover thoracic kyphosis, you must look at the spine in detail, and the most efficient method to do so is to compare it to a wall.

Examine for Thoracic Kyphosis

  1. Face a wall with your back to it and stand 1 foot away.
  2. Start by leaning your entire back against the wall and trying to make your whole spine flat, from the nape of your neck to the little of your back.
  3. To oppose your upper spine to the wall, don’t arch your lower back. Maintain a neutral posture.

You’re probably suffering from thoracic kyphosis if you can’t put your spine on the wall because of its “C” form at the top.

What is the Most Typical Cause of Thoracic Kyphosis?

As we already covered, the most likely reason is that you keep your body in an incorrect posture for lengthy periods. Your thoracic kyphosis is a condition in which the opposing muscle groups in your chest and back are unbalanced. When you maintain this rounded upper back posture regularly, they typically develop in this manner over time. When you slouch in your chair or drop into a crouch over your phone, the muscles in your chest are shortened and constricted, while the muscles in your upper back are stretched out and over tensed.

Your muscles will adapt to these postures over time. Because your chest muscles are taut, they force your shoulders to move forward and your chest to collapse. It weakens because your upper back is not strong enough to counterbalance this forward pull. As long as you don’t stretch out your chest muscles enough, they will remain contracted and shortened. After 20 minutes of posture, your muscles will tense and constrict the bones in your joints, keeping them in a particular position. To correct your posture, you must first reverse these muscular asymmetries.

How to fix Thoracic Kyphosis

The excellent news about postural kyphosis is that it can be reversed in most circumstances. You want to address it as quickly as possible because the longer you wait, the tougher it is to repair and the more issues it might cause. You should take a multi-pronged approach to correct your posture (the video above gives a good overview of all these measures). We’ve compiled a list of the stretches and exercises that will cure your hunched back, but they must be done in conjunction with one another.

  1. The first step is to massage the tight muscles to alleviate any chronic tension. It’s a procedure that relaxes the muscles. This process targets tendons and tight spots in the muscles.
  2. The next step is to begin stretching the same muscle groups.
  3. The final step is strengthening the weakened muscles that contribute to thoracic kyphosis.

You should note that these treatments are intended to treat postural kyphosis caused by muscular imbalances. It is also supposed that your thoracic kyphosis is not so bad that it creates pain or substantial movement difficulties. If your thoracic kyphosis results from structural issues or causes you significant discomfort, see a medical professional.

1. Self-Massage Techniques

It is possible to reverse the curved posture by compressing and massaging the muscle tissue surrounding your thoracic spine. Remember, it’s your muscles that keep your spine in its existing position. When there are a lot of spinal curvatures, the muscles are in an abnormal position and are subjected to tension. Foam rollers and massage balls may be used to help relax the muscles and increase blood flow. Myofascial release is a type of massage treatment that uses hard compression on your muscles, aided by devices.

Here are some release activities that may assist you in overcoming a hunchback:

1. Peanut Ball Upper Back Release

This is a peanut ball, which can be purchased or produced yourself with two lacrosse or tennis balls. You may stuff two balls inside a sock and bind them tightly so that they remain together, or you may secure them with strong tape.

  • Lay back on the floor and rest the peanut ball between your shoulder blades, with each ball on either side of your spine.
  • Raise your hips slightly off the floor to relieve some of your weight on the peanut ball.
  • Shift your torso up and down very slightly as you feel the balls compress the muscles on either side of your thoracic spine.
  • This may be somewhat unpleasant, but with regular practice, the discomfort fades.

2. Massage Ball Pectoralis Release

To relax your chest muscles that are active in hunching, use a massage ball. You want to target the muscles on either side of your shoulder and sternum, and there are various methods to accomplish it. The most straightforward approach is to utilize your other hand; massage the opposing pectoralis muscles with the ball held. Instead of holding the ball, try rolling it against a wall with your body weight for additional pressure. If you’re seeking maximum pressure and release, place the ball beneath your pectoralis muscle while laying on your stomach. Use a small circular motion to loosen the pectoralis muscles on one side at a time.

3. Massage Ball Abdominal Release

Besides a firm chest, a firm ab also keeps a rounded spine in place. Using a massage ball, you may gently relax your abs.

  • Lie on your stomach with your chest up and elbows propping up your upper body.
  • Put a massage ball beneath the top of your abdominal muscles on one side.
  • Move your body weight to vary the pressure on your abs. Make sure the pressure isn’t too high; you just want enough to feel the muscles release. Excessive pressure might lead to damage.
  • Gradually roll the ball up and down along your abs before moving it to the other side.

2. Stretching and Mobility Exercises

Stretching your spine improves mobility in your joints by releasing the static alignment of your vertebrae. It also increases blood flow and promotes healthy spine function. Stretching regularly can help your spine become more flexible, resulting in a more “fixable” posture. Because your chest is overly tight and hunched, stretching your chest muscles is also crucial for reversing thoracic kyphosis. For at least 30 seconds, hold each stretch and repeat 3 times a day.

1. Upper Back Arch Lean

In this position, you’ll bend your upper back in the direction opposite to your kyphosis by leaning your hands against a wall.

  • Place your hands against a wall overhead.
  • Drop your head through your arms and force your hips back as you lean into your hands.
  • Feel your chest stretch and your upper back contract.
  • Keep your lower back in a neutral stance; don’t “cheat” by bending your lumbar vertebrae instead of your thoracic spine.

2. Thoracic Extension

You use a foam roller to push your upper back into the desired arching position in this stretch. Because the foam roller applies a greater amount of force to the bend, it’s a little more strenuous than the preceding arch. The video above demonstrates how to perform this maneuver (as well as a few other spine-strengthening exercises).

  • Using a foam roller under your shoulder blades, lie flat on your back.
  • Put your hands behind your head and let your head act as a counterweight.
  • Maintain your butt on the floor and keep your lumbar spine as neutral as possible.
  • Bend your thoracic spine over the foam roller as your chest expands.
  • Flaring your rib cage out to create an arch is not a good idea. Consider isolating the thoracic spinal arch.

3. Abdominal Stretch

Loosening your chronically constricted abs might help you relax your spine into a better position. The cobra pose in yoga is an excellent stretch for your abs and chest muscles. It reverses the kyphosis in your thoracic spine as a backbend posture.

  • Lay flat on your stomach with your feet and legs together.
  • Keep your elbows tucked in as you press your hands down onto the floor.
  • Lift your upper body as high as you can without raising your hips.
  • Raising your chest toward the ceiling and bending at the upper back is essential.
  • Instead of feeling the stretch in your lower back, aim for a sensation in your upper back. Allow your lower back to bend but not to take the entire backbend.

4. Chest Stretch

This easy chest/pec stretch targets your shortened chest muscles and teaches your upper back to reverse its kyphosis by stretching out your shortened chest muscles. It’s simple to accomplish since it just requires a doorway.

  • Stand in the doorway and put one hand on each side of the doorframe.
  • Align your forearms, starting at the elbows and working your way up to the palms and the door frame.
  • Step one foot ahead of you and lean forward to feel your chest and front shoulders stretch.

If you discover that your pecs are particularly tight, check out our page on how to loosen and stretch the pectorals.

Strength Training Thoracic Kyphosis Exercises

Strengthening back muscles that have become overly extended causes them to contract, allowing your spine to remain upright rather than curving. The exercises below are simple to perform at home and should be done every other day.

1. Supermans

Superman does wonders for your abs and back muscles by extending them. It’s a bodyweight exercise that only requires a mat.

  1. Lie facedown and stretch your arms straight up overhead.
  2. Strengthen your back by keeping it straight and minimizing curvature.
  3. Bring your arms, legs, and chest straight up off the floor as high as possible in one fluid motion.
  4. Hold for 2 seconds and then carefully lower everything to complete one rep.

If it’s too challenging at first, try performing supermans with your arms lifted by your sides rather than above your head.

2. T-Hold, Y-Hold, and Prone Cobra

In T-holds and y-holds, you hold light dumbbells (2 to 5 pounds) while raising your upper body. It’s more complicated than Superman because there is more weight to lift, and you’re only lifting your upper body instead of your back and legs. If this exercise is too strenuous for you, you may try it without equipment.

  • Lie down with your stomach on the floor and a pair of dumbbells in each hand.
  • Raise your chest away from your thoracic spine. Allow your lower back to bend, but avoid bending directly from it.
  • For 3 to 5 seconds, hold your arms out to a “T.” Repeat the procedure for more reps.
  • For yet another round, extend your arms out to a “Y” or “V” posture overhead. This is more difficult.

3. Wall Press

The inner spinal muscles are effectively targeted with this strengthening exercise. You assist your spinal column in aligning straight by tightening them.

  • With your back and hips against a wall, sit or stand comfortably.
  • Your spine should be as straight as possible.
  • Bring your arms up beside your head and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
  • Put your arms against the wall or as near to it as possible.
  • Raise your arms straight up over your head as you expand your chest and clench your shoulder blades together.
  • Lower your arms back down to a 90-degree “L” formation.
  • Repeat for additional reps.
  • You should feel your back muscles working between your shoulder blades.

Remove the underlying habits that lead to poor posture

Several activities have been outlined above to help cure thoracic kyphosis, but you can’t fix it without first recognizing the source of the problem. This implies eradicating the undesirable habits that led to thoracic kyphosis in the first place. Poor habits are one of the most common causes of postural kyphosis. As a result, thoracic kyphosis is always lurking around the corner if you don’t change your bad habits for good.

Here are a few pointers:

  • Take frequent breaks to get your blood flowing and sit on a stability ball chair or a kneeling chair while at work to avoid slouching. A standing desk may also be beneficial.
  • Hold your feet flat on the floor as you sit back in your seat. Consider investing in lumbar support for your chair.
  • Sleeping on your back helps to straighten out your spine, which is beneficial in preventing negative posture habits during sleep.
  • Take a look at your posture frequently during the day, or write it down on your phone or at your workstation to remind you to sit and stand up straight.
  • Doing too many abdominal crunches without stretching your abs or balancing them with upper back exercises can also worsen thoracic kyphosis. Avoid crunches while you work on relieving thoracic kyphosis to allow your abs to lengthen out.
  • Once you’ve treated thoracic kyphosis, you must do everything possible to keep it from recurring. Take note of any undesirable habits that cause you to slouch and modify them.

To counteract any slouching and promote good muscle balance, continue performing the thoracic kyphosis exercises described in this article. Be persistent. It will take some time for your body to get back to this state, and it won’t change overnight. You’ve probably been dealing with your posture for a long time if you have thoracic kyphosis.

A hunchback condition must be treated with corrective exercises, so get started now and avoid the detrimental consequences of poor posture in the future. If your posture is severely bad, you should get physical therapy from a professional who will design you with the proper exercise regimen.

Based out of Minnesota, home of the world-famous mayoclinic.org, and founded by a team of health professionals, including Chiropractors and Physical Therapists. Yourbodyposture.com was started with the goal of being your go-to resource for all things posture and physical health-related.


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