Let's talk about kyphosis - the causes, symptoms, and preventative tips so you can maintain good posture and practice proper body mechanics throughout your daily activities, without back pain.
Kyphosis is a spinal condition that manifests as an excessive outward curvature of the spine in the upper back, leading to a curved or hunched look. Kyphosis may be caused by a variety of elements, including posture issues, birth defects, or medical conditions. Kyphosis occurs when there's an abnormal curve in the thoracic spine (upper back), causing it to round forward more than usual.
Kyphosis can be caused by many things. The most common themes I see in my office at Tru Whole Care in New York are:
Poor posture: Slouching or maintaining improper body alignment for extended periods can cause postural kyphosis while exercising, sitting at a desk, or reading a phone.
Congenital issues: Some individuals are born with spinal abnormalities that contribute to kyphotic development.
Scheuermann's disease: A growth-related disorder affecting adolescents during their growth spurt which results in uneven vertebral growth leading to kyphotic deformity.
Osteoporosis: The weakening of bones due to age-related bone loss increases the risk for compression fractures resulting in kyphotic curvature.
Injury or trauma: Accidents involving forceful impact on the spine can cause fractures and misalignment, leading to kyphosis.
Wondering if you have Kyphosis, here are some common symptoms:
First and foremost - the visible rounding or hunching of the upper back. I am seeing this more and more in young adults and even kids who were hunched over computers during the pandemic virtual school routines.
Pain or stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and back area.
Fatigue due to muscle strain from compensating for a spinal imbalance.
Difficulty breathing in severe cases due to compression on the lungs and chest cavity.
If you suspect that you may have kyphosis, it is essential to consult with a chiropractor for proper diagnosis and treatment. A chiropractor will administer tests to diagnose kyphosis and advise on the most suitable treatment options for your case. A thorough examination by a chiropractor can help determine if you have kyphosis. Some common diagnostic tests used include:
X-rays: This imaging test provides detailed images of your spine, allowing the chiropractor to assess its curvature and alignment.
Physical Examination: The chiropractor will evaluate your posture, range of motion, muscle strength, flexibility, and any pain or discomfort associated with movement.
Patient History: Your medical history helps the practitioner understand potential causes or contributing factors related to your spinal curvature.
There is hope! If you're dealing with kyphosis, incorporating specific exercises into your daily routine can help manage and improve symptoms. These exercises focus on stretching the back and neck muscles, strengthening core muscles, and improving balance and coordination. My invention, the Backbridge has helped hundreds of patients through the years with kyphosis. In fact, since using a Backbridge 94% report feeling their back pain is better.
Tightness in the back and neck muscles can contribute to poor posture associated with kyphosis. Stretching these areas regularly helps increase flexibility, alleviate pain, and promote better alignment of the spine. Here are a few home stretching exercises for the back and neck muscles that can help with preventing and treating kyphosis.
As always, before beginning any exercise program, it is important to consult a chiropractor or healthcare professional.
Cat-cow stretch: This yoga pose gently stretches both the upper (thoracic) spine area affected by kyphosis as well as the lower (lumbar) spine.
Pectoral stretch: Tight chest muscles often accompany rounded shoulders in individuals with kyphosis; this stretch helps open up those tight areas.
Chin tucks: Practicing chin tucks strengthens weak neck muscles while also promoting proper head alignment over time.
Additionally, a strong core provides support to your entire body structure including your spinal column which may be compromised due to kyphosis making a strong core is essential for maintaining good posture, but please, don't do SIT-UPS(!) to achieve a strong core!
You can incorporate these strengthening exercises into your routine, or download my book Sit-Ups Are Stupid and Crunches Are Crap for more details.
Bridges: Bridges engage glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles that are crucial in supporting a healthy posture.
Planks: Planks target the entire core, including deep abdominal muscles that help stabilize the spine.
Superman exercise: This back extension movement strengthens the lower and upper back muscles responsible for maintaining proper spinal alignment.
Lastly, improving balance and coordination can be beneficial in managing kyphosis symptoms. These exercises challenge your body's ability to maintain stability while performing various movements, which helps improve overall posture. Here are some of my favorite balancing exercises below, or, for more details check out my Ultimate Stretch Book Guide featuring the Backbridge.
Bird dog: The bird dog exercise requires you to engage both your core muscles as well as coordinate arm and leg movements simultaneously - making it an excellent choice for improving balance.
Tandem stance: Standing with one foot directly in front of the other challenges your balance while also promoting better postural awareness.
Single-leg stance: Practicing standing on one leg at a time not only improves balance but also targets key stabilizing muscles throughout your lower body necessary for good posture.
Incorporating stretches and exercises into your daily routine can significantly contribute to supporting better posture and managing kyphosis symptoms. You are not alone! Remember if you try the Backbridge and it doesn't help, we offer a 90-day money-back guarantee. You have nothing to lose!