Healing the Hunch – Can Exercise Help Dowager’s Hump?

backbend

The New York Times recently included information on kyphosis – the hunched back you’ll sometimes see in seniors. There are many causes of kyphosis including posture, osteoporosis, degeneration or arthritis of the spine, and connective tissue issues.  As I linked to last month, movement is great for joints, and it also appears to be helpful in treating kyphosis, or at least prevents further progression of the curvature.

It turns out that exercise extending the spine and strengthening the spinal extensors seems to keep the hyperkyphosis from progressing and in some cases improves it (extension of the spine is the opposite of bending forward; it’s looking overhead and leaning back as if you were about to do a back bend). Directly from the article:

Certain kinds of exercise may prevent or delay progression of the abnormally hunched back called hyperkyphosis but have not been proved to correct it completely, medical authorities say. It normally progresses with age.

Recent studies suggest that exercises that extend the spine may help manage kyphosis in older people and sometimes improving it, though stronger evidence is needed before a general recommendation is made.

via Can Exercise Help Straighten a Curved Spine? – NYTimes.com.

If you think you’re having issues, make sure to see your primary care provider and work with a physical therapist to find specific strengthening exercises for the extensors. Massage can assist in relaxing the chest, arm and anterior neck muscles pulling on the head and open up the chest cavity to give the spine room to straighten.

Click through to see the full question and answer.

photo credit: flickr.com ccl user lululemon athletica

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