Dowager’s hump, or postural kyphosis, is a condition that develops over time from bad posture and slouching. It is characterized by forward head posture and abnormal curvature of the upper vertebrae with a mass of tissue at the lower part of the neck. If not treated, it can lead to spinal degeneration, osteoarthritis, and in extreme cases, compression fractures. The good thing is, if you start to notice a small hump at the back of your neck, you can get rid of it by making some simple changes.
One of the most asked questions our physiotherapists get is “I sit at my desk all day and I know I have poor posture but what can I do to reduce my hunchback?”. The answer is by correcting muscle imbalances and changing your postural habits.
Here are the best exercises to correct your posture and bring your head back into proper alignment:
- Start position: Stand diagonally facing a wall with your elbow and forearm resting on the wall, such that your elbow is at chest height.
- Action: Keeping your arm on the wall, rotate your body away from the wall until you feel a stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on other side.
Prone scapula retractions
- Start position: Lie on your stomach with your hands by your side and palms facing downwards.
- Action: Draw your shoulder blades together and down towards your feet. Lift your hands one inch off the ground and hold the position for the 30 seconds. Rest and then repeat 2 more times.
- Key points: Make sure you maintain the shoulder blade position when you lift your hands.
- Start position: Sitting up tall.
- Action: Draw your chin backward like you are sliding a draw into a cabinet. Apply over pressure with your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds. Rest and then repeat 2 more times.
Bilateral shoulder elevation with external rotation
- Start position: Stand with a short elastic resistance band held in both hands and elbows bent to 90 degrees.
- Action: Rotate your hands outwards, increasing the tension on the band, while keeping your elbows by your side and wrists in a neutral position. Elevate both arms until your upper arm is parallel to the ground (90 degrees). Return to the start position by reversing the movements. Repeat for a total of 10 repetitions.