Best 5 Ways to Reduce Kyphosis

First, we should explain the terminology because it is rather confusing. A kyphosis is a normal forward bend in the upper back. You would be right to hence ask the question, why would you want to correct a kyphosis, if this is normal to have it? The problem arises from an excessive kyphosis in the upper back, or thoracic spine as it is known in medical terms. While the upper back should naturally bend forward, this can often become exaggerated, leading to a “hyperkyphosis”. The only problem is that the term hyperkyphosis is rarely used. Instead, the term has been shortened to “kyphosis”.

Confused? Yes, don’t worry. Hence many articles incorrect state that a kyphosis is a spinal disorder, when in fact, it is completely normal to have a kyphosis. However, as stated above, the issue arises when the kyphosis is excessive.

An excessive or exaggerated kyphosis is sometimes colloquially referred to as a “hunchback” or “roundback” or even “dowager’s hump”. Symptoms of a hyperkyphosis include:

  • Difficulty taking a full deep breath.
  • Back pain and stiffness.
  • Rounded shoulders.
  • Neck pain.
  • Headaches (usually due to a forward head position).

Treatment of Kyphosis

At Surrey Physio, our therapists treat excessive kyphosis by using:

  • Manual therapy and joint mobilisation.
  • Postural re-education.
  • Exercise therapy.

If you are noticing you are becoming more rounded, you should get checked by one of our physiotherapy and/or osteopathy team.

Best 5 Exercises for Kyphosis

1. Exercises aimed at addressing kyphosis focus on strengthening the muscles of the upper back, improving posture, and stretching the front of the body. If you have a very pronounced kyphosis, seek advice from our team before doing these exercises. If you have acute back pain, avoid these exercises until speaking to a medical professional. Here are some exercises that can be beneficial for healthy individuals with kyphosis:

1. Back Extension Gentle

Lie on your front on a bed or the floor, and rest on your forearms. Your back will be gently arched. Hold this position for no longer than two minutes. Start gently with this exercise as it can cause some stiffness when you first begin.

If you want to progress, you can move to a Back Extension Medium:

Again, hold this position for no longer than two minutes.

2. Foam Roller Thoracic Extension Horizontal

Place a foam roller under your spine and lie flat on your back with your knees bent. You can place the roller anywhere along the upper back, but one of the best places is right underneath the shoulder blades. Slowly roll your spine over the foam roller, and you will feel it pushing up into your back. Start with a 4 inch (10cm) diameter roller and progress to a 6 inch (15cm) roller. This exercise can help improve mobility to the spine and improve posture. Maintain the lying position for up to five minutes.

3. Lying Extension Swiss Ball

Start by sitting on a Swiss ball, and roll the ball under you so that your back is flat on the ball. The ball contours should follow the curve of your spine. Let your back extend over the ball as you relax your arms out to your side. Hold this position to create an extension to your mid and upper back. To make the exercise stronger, move your arms above your head. Hold this position for thirty seconds, and repeat three times.

4. Thoracic Extension Using Chair

Kneel on the floor next to a chair or bench. Place your elbows above your head and rest them on the chair. Slowly extend your back, creating an arch to add extension to your spine. Return to the start position, and repeat as required. This is an extension exercise for the upper back. Hold the stretch for up to one minute, and repeat three times.

5. Sitting Extension

Support your neck by placing your hands interlocked behind your neck. Round your lower back slightly, to focus the movement to the upper back, and slowly bend backwards. Repeat 20 reps.

Top Tips from our Physios and Osteopaths:

  1. Reduce slouching. Try to reduce excessive slouching, sit upright more frequently.
  2. Lift your chin. By lifting your chin, you pick your head up and straighten your upper back.
  3. Keep your back strong. Weakness will promote a rounded posture.
  4. See our team at Surrey Physio for posture improvement therapy.

If you are a therapist and find these exercises interesting, then consider using Rehab My Patient for therapists If you are a patient, please call us at Surrey Physio to book an appointment.