Preventing Rounded Back, Hunched Back and Poor Posture


Your teacher and your mother were right when they told you to sit up straight and stand up tall. Poor posture catches up with you, and the longer you sit the more likely you are to have poor posture.

Add poor posture to the changes that take place in your bone structure and body as you age,and you probably have problems. This is especially true considering the changes in your vertebrae that result from your bones thinning or osteoporosis. All of this may result in the forward rounding of the back known as kyphosis.

Granted, some rounding is normal but the term kyphosis usually refers to an exaggerated rounding, more than 50 degrees. It actually is a deformity often called hunchback or round back.

Kyphosis can affect all ages. It can occur from developmental problems, degenerative diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis which may cause fractures of the vertebrae, or a trauma to the spine. This article is about postural kyphosis in adults and what leads up to it.

If left along that rounded back can become more rounded and cause problems. A small hump on the back may start showing. If the hump becomes more prominent over time, the misalignment of the spine causes pain which can become severe and disabling. In severe cases, the curve may cause the rib cage to press against your lungs and there is trouble breathing.

Your doctor may ask you to do the Forward Bend Test. You bend from the waist while she views the spine from the side. With kyphosis, the rounding of the upper back becomes more obvious in this position. In postural kyphosis, the deformity corrects itself when you lie on your back.

If you are among the many who have less serious cases of postural kyphosis you can prevent it from getting worse with exercises to strengthen back muscles and training for the correct posture as well as sleeping on a firm bed.

In older adults kyphosis that is associated with osteoporosis is usually found in the vertebrae of the thoracic spine which supports your shoulders, arms, chest and trunk. Small fractures can also result in a loss of height and curvature of the spine. On the other hand, straight posture reduces the excess pressure on the front portion of the vertebra so you do not get the curvature.

The good news is that there are exercises you can do to prevent whatever rounding you have based on your posture from getting worse. You can strengthen your back muscles and minimize bone stress by doing exercises that gently straighten the trunk and back. You may even be able to improve your posture because minor cases of kyphosis can be corrected.

First talk to your doctor about specific exercises to help strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture before you try these.

1. Shoulder Blade Squeeze. Sit forward on a chair, tucking your chin to your chest. While keeping your chest high, with elbows bent and arms drawn back, pull your should blades together as you straighten your upper back. Inhale deeply while gently pulling your arms back. Hold 5 seconds. Exhale to return to starting position.

2. Dumbbell Shrug. This exercise calls for light weight dumbbells or use cans of soup. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and hold the dumbbells at your sides. Then lift your shoulders as high as you can as if you could reach your ears with your shoulders. Hold 5 seconds and release.

3. From a hands and knees position on the floor raise one leg at the hip keeping your knee bent without changing the position of your trunk. Your trunk remains level and is parallel to the floor. Maintain this position for 5 seconds. Repeat with other leg.

These exercise use only a small range of motion but they should give you a start.