A healthy spine has a natural curve but an excessive curvature of the upper back causes a rounded back. It is called a kyphotic curve, round back, or hunchback and can be painful in some cases. Extreme curvature called hyperkyphosis can be seen increasing with age, especially after 40 and the prevalence is about 20% to 40% in adults 60 years or older.1
The management of kyphosis mainly includes physical therapy, posture correction, and exercises to correct kyphotic curves. Medical treatment depends on the severity of the kyphotic curve and conservative treatment is also followed in most cases. Some of the complications of the extreme kyphotic curve or severe conditions include restricted functional capabilities, breathing difficulties, and digestive problems.
These days, the increasing use of electronic devices has led to increased concerns about postural curvature and kyphosis is one of them. It is one of the major causes of pain and tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, while it can also affect overall health. Know the exercises to correct the kyphotic curve to manage the condition better and seek a medical opinion as required.
How Can Exercises Help Correct Kyphotic Curve?
In conservative treatment to correct kyphotic curve, physical therapy plays an important role. Exercises to correct kyphotic curve and physical therapy are used to strengthen the back and abdominal muscles. It helps to relieve pressure on the spine, to improve posture, and to reduce discomfort. Stretching exercises and cardiovascular activities are also prescribed to help alleviate back pain and fatigue.1
A 2018 study reports that exercises to correct thoracic kyphosis focus on normal scapular alignment and can have a positive impact. It suggested that thoracic extension exercises can strengthen the thoracic muscles along with the middle and lower trapezius. Exercises for normal scapular alignment focus on strengthening the shoulder muscles.2
A 2019 study found a significant effect of exercise in improving thoracic kyphosis angle and also suggested that strengthening exercises could be more relevant than stretching or at least both types of exercises are necessary to reduce the curve of the thoracic angle.3
Exercises To Correct Kyphotic Curve
Here are some of the most effective exercises to correct kyphotic curve:
Standing Exercises To Correct Kyphotic Curve
- Chin Tucks – Stand straight with shoulder relaxed. Tuck your chin slightly by bringing it behind to be directly over your shoulders without bending it. Repeat this 10 times.
- Shoulder Squeeze – Stand straight with shoulder relaxed. Push your shoulder downwards and backward. Push your chest out and squeeze the shoulders further behind to feel the stretch at the shoulders and the scapular region. You can also try to join both hands at the back to support the stretch. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat 10 times.
- Arm Raises – In the standing position, raise your arms in the front with elbows straight. Join both palms while the hands are outstretched at chest level. Give a gentle stretch to feel stretched in the upper back and then slowly raise the arms upwards to reach above the head. Hold for a few seconds then bring down the hands to the original position. Repeat this 10 times.
- Shoulder Rotation – Stand straight and raise one arm to rotate at the shoulder, first clockwise and then anticlockwise. If it is difficult, you can take the support of the wall and rotate by moving the palm of the outstretched arm on the wall in a circular manner. Perform this 5 times.
- Reverse Prayer Pose – This can be performed in a modified manner to suit the needs of upper body stretch and strengthening. Stand straight with shoulder relaxed. Bring your arms behind and try to join the hands to form the prayer position. If it is difficult to make the prayer position, you can hold the elbow of the opposite hands to feel the stretch and hold the position for a few seconds. Relax and then repeat the same process 5 times.
Lying down Exercises to Correct Kyphotic Curve
Some of the exercises to correct kyphotic curve that can be done in the lying down position include
- Posture Check: Lie on your back with your legs stretched out. Place your hands on your stomach and let your shoulder relax and touch the floor. Feel the gentle stretch but do not exert pressure, try to relax comfortably.
- Static Back: Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knee and the heel touching the floor. Place your hands on the floor by your sides, palm touching the floor. Gently press your back area such that the entire back touches the floor, from the shoulder to the hips. Perform this comfortably and do not hold your breath. Hold this position for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
- Supine Neck Retraction: Lie on your back with your legs bent at the knee. Relax your shoulders and back so that they are touching the floor. Gently slide your head so that the chin is tucked towards the chest. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times.
- Prone Cobra: Lie on your tummy with your legs stretched out and your hands by your sides next to your chest. Bend your arms at the elbows and let the palms touch the floor beside your chest. Touch your forehead to the floor, now this is your base position. Gently raise your head and upper chest just off the floor supported by your hands. If possible, try to raise till the elbows are straightened and look forward. Hold this position and then come back to the base position. Repeat the same steps 5 times.
- Superman: Lie on your tummy with your legs stretched out and hands outstretched in the front. Keep your feet close to each other. Lift your outstretched hands and legs at once to attain a superman like position. Engage your core but do not hold your breath. Hold for a few seconds and then relax. Repeat this 5 times.