What is a Dowager’s hump?
It is an enlarged prominence that is formed at the lower region of the neck.
… it’s a protruding bone at the base of the neck!
(Note: The term “Dowager’s Hump” is sometimes referred to as Thoracic Hyperkyphosis. In this blog post, it is referred to as Hyperkyphosis of the Cervicothoracic junction.)
Characteristics of a Dowager’s hump
- Excessive flexion at the Cervicothoracic junction (Hyper Kyphosis)
- (This is the Dowager’s Hump!)
- Hyper extension of the upper neck region
- Loss of natural cervical spine curvature
- Forward head posture
- Fatty deposit tissue (Lipoma) at the base of the neck
What causes a Dowager’s hump?
… Or more specifically, a Forward head posture.
… Is your neck bone sticking out AND head poking forwards?
If you are like the vast majority of people who suffer with a Dowager’s Hump, my guess would be YES.
The more forward your head sits, the more stress is placed on the base of your neck.
To cater for this extra stress, the body will respond by:
- a) Depositing thick connective tissue (+/- fat tissue) to reinforce the area.
- b) Stiffening the joints of the lower cervical spine in a forward curve position.
(This is the body’s attempt to support your heavy head!)
After a prolonged period of time in this poor posture, this can lead to the deformation at the base of the neck – the Dowager’s Hump.
Note: There are certain conditions (namely Osteoporosis/Compression fractures and Cushing’s Syndrome) that can also cause a bump at the base of the neck.
Implications of having a Dowager’s hump
Let’s be honest. It’s not the most appealing thing to have.
It can give the appearance of having a squashed neck. (… It might even make you shorter!)
It is also nicknamed as having a “Buffalo Hump” or “Neck Hump”.
b) Neck pain
As the head is in a sub-optimal position, there is more stress placed on the muscles and joints of the neck.
c) Higher risk to issues such as:
- Disc bulges (especially at C5/6 and C6/7)
- Nerve impingement in the neck
- Pain at Base of Skull
Can it be corrected?
Yes – as long as the joints in the neck have not already fused together, it is possible that you will be able to improve (or even reclaim) your good posture.
Note: If the joints have already fused, it is very unlikely that they can “un-fuse”.
How to test if you have a Dowager’s hump
Note: It is normal to have slightly enlarged bones at the base of your neck area. Do not mistake this for having a Dowager’s hump!
1. Take a side profile shot of yourself:
If you can see an obvious bump around the base of your neck, then you most likely have it!
2. Feel it:
Place your hand at the base of your neck. Can you feel a significant bump?
3. Get an X-ray:
If you really wanted to know the structural alignment of your neck, go to your general practitioner and request for an X-ray. (Check to see if the C7 vertebrae sticks out too much!)
How to fix a Dowager’s hump
Note: If you have any doubts that these Dowager’s Hump exercises will be suitable for you, make sure to consult a healthcare professional.
It is important to release the tight muscles which are encouraging the formation of the neck hump.
a) Upper trapezius
- Locate the Upper Trapezius.
- Use Google if you are not sure where this muscle is.
- Place a massage ball between this muscle and a wall. (see above)
- Apply an appropriate amount of pressure into the ball.
- Make sure to cover the entire muscle.
- Continue for 1 minute.
b) Posterior neck muscles
- Lie down on the floor.
- Position the muscles at the back of your neck onto a massage ball. (see above)
- Make sure to cover the entire length of the muscle on either side of your spine.
- Base of the skull to the base of the neck.
- Gently rotate your head from side to side to emphasize certain areas.
- Continue for 2-3 minutes on each side.
With the Dowager’s Hump, the joints between the neck and thoracic spine will be very stiff. Let’s loosen them up!
a) Decompress the sides of the neck
- Look downwards.
- Tilt your head to the side.
- (“Ear to the shoulder.”)
- Gently pull your head down towards the side.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the lower part of your neck.
- Make sure to avoid any pinching sensation on the side you are pulling your head towards.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
- Do both sides.
b) Decompress the back of the hump
- Tuck your chin in.
- Whilst keeping your chin tucked in, gently pull your head downwards using both of your hands.
- Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your lower neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
c) Posterior/Lateral Neck stretch
- Hold onto the under side of a chair with your hand.
- Lean your body weight towards the opposite side.
- Gently tuck in your chin.
- Look towards the arm pit on the opposite side of the hand holding onto the chair.
- Place your hand on the top of your head and pull your head towards the arm pit.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- For more stretches like this: Levator Scapulae Stretches.
The following exercises will help decompress the joints in the neck.
a) Traction (with resistance band)
- Tie a resistance band to a stationary object. (Height: ~3-4 feet)
- Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
- Wrap the band under the base of the skull.
- Whilst still holding the band with your hands, slowly shuffle your body away from the anchor point.
- Let go and let the band pull your head.
- Move as far away until you can feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
- Completely relax.
- Hold for 1 minute.
- Note: Place a small towel between your head and the band if you feel more comfortable.
b) Traction (with a device)
Alternatively – you can invest in a mechanical traction machine which will help decompress the the joints.
NOTE: If you would like see 13 different exercises that will help decompress your neck, be sure to check out this post: Neck Decompression Exercises.
4. Joint mobilization
The following exercises will get the stiff joints moving again.
a) Joint mobilization (with ball sock)
- Place 2 massage balls into a sock. (see image)
- Make sure that they are not too firm.
- Tie up the end.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Position the Dowager’s Hump between the 2 balls.
- Support the weight of your head using your hands at the back.
- Pull your head forwards so that your chin in closer to your upper chest.
- Proceed to place a comfortable amount of pressure into the ball sock by slowly lifting up your bottom of the floor.
- Try to arch the base of the neck over the ball sock.
- Small movements is the key here!
- Repeat 30 times.
b) Side pressures
- Reach behind your neck with both hands.
- Feel for the Dowager’s Hump.
- Locate the spinous process of C7 and T1.
- These are the bones the poke out in the middle.
- Place your fingers tips of either side of the spinous process.
- Apply an alternating pressure from the sides.
- “Wiggle the bone from side-to-side”
- Continue for 1 minute.
5. Gain control of the joints
Now that there has been more movement unlocked in the neck, it is vital to gain full control of the neck.
a) Chin tuck with extension
- Look slightly downwards.
- The more pronounced the Dowager’s Hump, the more you will need to look down.
- Perform a chin tuck.
- “Make a double chin”
- (think about the movement as a book sliding back into the shelf)
- Whilst maintaining this chin-tucked position, proceed to subtly look upwards.
- Aim to feel a tight sensation at the base of your neck.
- It should not hurt!
- Do not let your chin poke forwards during this movement.
- Repeat 30 times.
- Do NOT force this movement into pain!
- If you feel any pain, ease off your tension.
For more chin tuck exercises, see post: The 6 Best Chin Tuck Exercises.
6. Address Forward Head posture
A Forward Head Posture is where the position of the head is in front of the mid line of the torso.
Since the head is relatively heavy, the further forward it is positioned, the more pressure it places on the base of the neck.
I have listed a few exercises below to address this specific postural issue, but it is strongly recommended that you check out the FULL blog post as linked below:
Here are some exercises to get you started
a) Sternocleidomastoid release
- Locate the Sternocleidomastoid
- You should be able to feel a prominent band of muscle on each side of the neck. (see above)
- Gently massage these muscles with a pinch grip.
- Do not press too deep!
- Duration: 1 minute each side.
- Place one hand at the front of your chin and the other at the back of your head.
- Apply a force to the front of your chin as to gently glide the chin backwards.
- Whilst maintaining this pressure, proceed to pull your head forward/down.
- Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
c) Sternocleidomastoid stretch
- Gently tuck your chin in.
- (Keep this position throughout the movement.)
- Rotate your head towards the side you want to stretch.
- Tilt your head to the side away from the side you want to stretch.
- Use your hand to pull your head further into the tilt.
- Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your neck.
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3 times.
(For more stretches like this: The best Sternocleidomastoid stretches.)
d) Chin Tuck
- Whilst sitting upright, gently tuck your chin in.
- “Make a double chin.”
- Aim to feel a gentle lengthening sensation at the back of your neck.
- A common mistake I often see is the person starts to move their head up/down. Make sure your eyes and jaw stay level, and move the head horizontally backwards.
- Think of the movement like a book sliding back into the shelf.
- Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 30 times.
e) Chin nods
- Sit up right.
- Slightly nod your chin downwards.
- Place a closed fist underneath your chin.
- Gently push your chin down onto your fist
- Hold for 30 seconds.
- Aim to feel a gentle contraction at the front of your throat.
- Repeat 2-3 times.
f) Chin tuck/nod with head lift
- Lie down on your back with your knees bent.
- (Support your head on a pillow if required.)
- Gently flatten your tongue to the roof of your mouth throughout the exercise.
- This will help engage the appropriate muscles.
- Tuck your chin in.
- Nod your chin downwards.
- Whilst keeping your chin in the nodded position, lift your head off the ground.
- Imagine you are gently squashing an apple between your lower jaw and throat throughout movement.
- Lift as high or as low as you are comfortable.
- Aim to feel the contraction of the muscles at the front of your neck.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Make sure that you DO NOT let your chin jut forward
Note: If you find this exercise difficult, use your finger tips at the back of the head to provide as much support as required.
7. Maintaining the Correct head position
Here are some simple cues to help remind you to hold your head in the correct position.
a) Aim to keep your neck tall and elongated.
“Float your head away from your shoulders”
b) Maintain a gentle chin nod at all times. Do not allow for your chin to poke forwards.
“Imagine gently holding a large apple between your chin and upper chest”
8. Addressing your posture
Although the exercises mentioned above will definitely help address your Dowager’s Hump, there are other factors that we must consider!
The 2 other postural issues that predispose you to developing the Dowager’s hump:
- Hunched upper back
- Rounded shoulders
Collectively – they place an increased amount of stress to the base of your neck.
a) Address Hunchback Posture
If the thoracic spine (upper back) is hunched forwards, it can force the head to poke forwards.
The weight of the head in this forward position will place extra stress at the base of the neck.
b) Address Rounded Shoulders
Having Rounded Shoulders is when the resting shoulder position is in front of the mid line of the torso.
Together with the weight of the arms, this forward resting position of the shoulders can cause the upper trapezius to pull on base of the neck.
Being in a hunched position for a prolonged amount of time will naturally place more stress at the base of your neck.
Sit tall. Elongate your spine. And avoid poking the chin forwards.
Generally speaking – car seats do not encourage a good driving posture. (see above)
If you need to drive on a consistent basis, the main thing is to set up the seat to give the opportunity for your body to maintain the best possible posture.
If you would like some posture tips for driving, be sure to check out this post: Proper Driving Posture.
How do I fix a Dowager’s Hump while sleeping?
The main issue is when you sleep on your back. (see below)
If you sleep on your back, avoid using an excessively thick pillow as this will push your head forwards and encourage the bump!
The aim is to use the thinnest pillow as comfortably possible without letting your chin jut forwards.
10. Common questions:
a) How long will to take to fix?
It really depends… Everybody is different!
However – if you have had your Dowager’s Hump for a long time, it is more likely to be more difficult to improve it.
There are no quick fixes!
Commit your time. Do the exercises. You WILL see improvements!
b) Can surgery fix Dowager’s Hump?
The Dowager’s Hump removal involves surgically removing the fatty tissue deposits that sits around the hump.
Although this may reduce the appearance, the hunched position of the joints will remain unchanged.
c) Can wearing a heavy bag contribute?
… Especially if you already have Rounded shoulders!
The weight of the bag will place extra stress at the base of the neck.
- The Dowager’s Hump is the bump at the base of your neck.
- The main cause is a Forward Head Posture.
- It is able to be improved… unless the neck joints are already fused.
- Initially – it is important to do all of the exercises mentioned in this blog post. From here – focus on the exercises that give you the best results.
- It is recommended to address your whole posture.
What to do next…
1. Any questions?… Leave me a comment down below.
2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!
3. Start doing the exercises!
About Mark Wong:
Mark is a Physiotherapist who has been helping his patients fix their posture for the past 11 years. He created the Posture Direct blog in 2015 with the goal of helping people fix their own posture.
Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. The content provided is for informational purposes only. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more information: Medical disclaimer.
644 thoughts on “How to get rid of a Dowager’s Hump”
I’m following your routing since 2 weeks now everyday.
I was wondering, what do you think about backpod or the use of an alternative like a groin cup to help push the hump back in place?
Thank you very much!
Yes – this is fine to do.
You just need to make sure that you don’t hyper extend the joints slightly above the bump. To help with this: Make sure that you keep the chin close to the throat to your extend over the device.
hey mark , i have a bit of neck hump can i get taller if i correct it by these exercises ?
Yes – this is theoretically possible.
The more forward flexed your spine is, the more vertical height you will lose.
How do I know if my bone are fused together or not?
There are some findings on X-Ray that can suggest that the joints are fused.
I would suggest that you be consistent with the exercises for at least 3 months. If there is absolutely nil improvements, then this may suggest you are fused.
What massage ball brand do you use ? Does the size of it matter ?
Thank you for sharing these amazing excercises !
I just use a Lacrosse massage ball. It’s about 2.5inches in diameter.
The main thing you need to watch out for is how firm it is. You want it to be firm, but have a little bit of give to it.
Does the brace speed up the process while you are doing all the exercises?
I realize relying on the brace will not help build muscles. But does it help for the short term?
Of all the exercises you listed, are there any that make a big difference or are more important? I plan to follow all of it! Just curious. Thanks
Braces can certainly help, but should never be used without exercises. It is also important to note that you need to fit the brace correctly or else it could do more harm than good.
All of the exercises are important, however, you might notice that some may make a bigger impact than other exercises. The only way to figure this out is to try them all out initially, then gradually narrow down on the ones that you definitely feel an impact.
how would we know the neck joints have fused? I am 29 do you think there’s a chance they’re fused? i definitely have a hump
The best way is to commit to the exercises for 6 -12 weeks. If there is absolutely nil improvement in the hump, you may have fusion. (Or perhaps just very , very tight!)
Thank you for all these wonderful info.
A few questions if I may:
1. Can posture pump help restore the neck curvature if the problem is straight neck?
2. Can we use tennis ball for massage exercises instead of massage balls?
3. If posture pump doesn’t help, will these exercises restore neck curvature?
Thank you again.
1. I haven’t used it before but it looks like it can help. I would be careful with kinking the head backwards too far though.
2. Yes, definitely. As long as it feel comfortable.
3. Yes – these exercises are designed to help reclaim the normal cervical lordosis.
Any tips on relieving the chronic pain in the hump please? Will these exercises help ease the pain? It’s not responding to any pain killers.
The first step would be to minimize your exposure to postures/positions/activities that may be increasing your symptoms in this area.
The next step would be to get your neck moving. You can perform gentle and pain-free range of motion exercises for your neck. This will include rotation, lateral flexion, flexion/extension, retraction/protraction.
If you are like most people, you might need to focus on stretching/decompressing this area. This is generally achieve with flexion stretches and/or traction.
Once your pain levels have subsided, you can persist with the mentioned exercises on this blog post to see if you can address the bump directly.
My hump sometimes gets very painful. Done MRI and Xray and report says it’s loss of cervical curvature. No fuse, and I’m 32 old.
1. Should I use neck pillow with these exercises?
2. Is it usually painful? My PT says trapezius muscles are very tight. And I’ve started doing your exercises and I find myself in relief after the session. So thank you for making them!
3. Can you please do exercises for straightening of lumbar spine due to muscle spasm? 7 years now with low back pain and having 2 chronic pain isn’t making my life easier.
1. It is completely fine to use a pillow. Just make sure that it is not too thick or thin.
2. The bump at the base of the neck can be painful. (But not always)
3. If your lumbar spine has lost its natural lordosis, the exercises in this blog post should help. (see Lumbar spine section)
Thank you so much!
Can the Dowergar Hump be massage?
Can you roll something hard over the Dowergar Hump?
I wouldn’t recommend massaging directly onto the bony prominence as this could bruise/injure the bone.
You can massage the muscles around the vertebra.
How many times a week would you find doing this exercises be ok?
You can probably start with 2-3/week and then adjust accordingly.
Hi Mark! I have slouched all my life. I have now developed a forward head posture, rounded shoulders and a hump at the base of my neck. There are lots of exercises, should I start with one (for instance, the forward head posture) and then move on to another one if the forward head gets better? Thanks
With multiple areas, I would generally advise to start on one area, get the most out of it, then move onto the next area.
You will start know which exercises are the main ones which are helping you. In this case – you can just do those and not all of the exercise mentioned on my blog posts.
All the best!
Thank you! Is there a best area to start with – dowagers, forward head posture, hunch back or rounded shoulders?
Addressing Hunchback will generally give you the most benefit. (However – it is also the hardest to change)
Can i roll the ball sock over my whole neck?
This is not a problem.
Thank you very much
Thank you so much – this is really informative and I just bought massage balls today to get started!
I am just confused on how to position the two massage balls on my neck for the joint mobilization part a.
Do I position them vertical along the spine or horizontal to the spine?
Thanks in advance!
Place the 2 balls horizontal to the vertical spine. There shouldn’t be any directly contact on the bones in the middle of the spine. (this will be very painful!)
Im 23 and Im looking into this as I do not have dowagers hump, but everything associated with it, BUT over my shoulder blades im relatively skinny and do not have much body fat and do not know how to get rid of it. Like i said its like dowager hump but directly over both shoulder blades and upper traps putting pressure on my neck to jut forward. I have no idea what to do. Im hoping doing the exercises to reduce rounded shoulders helps. Being at home stuck all day hunched over doing university work has exacerbated it. Its a chronic pain now.
In addition to doing exercises for your rounded shoulders, you may also benefit from the exercises mentioned on the following blog posts:
– Forward Head Posture
– Hunch back posture
Hope it helps!
Thank you so much you are doing a great job!
So the thing is I’ve had bad posture since childhood I’m 20 now and I’m looking forward to correct it. So whenever I do the exercises I physically feel that my shoulders are in a better position like less rounded and the hump is slightly less curvy (I think you understand what I’m trying to say) but the problem is that after some time it feels like all of it is back and it gets worse after sitting to study or using phone for a while. Like is that normal.
Also do you think the bones in my neck might have fused?
Ps-Sorry for my bad English it isn’t my first language.
If you feel that the hump gets less prominent, it is unlikely that it is fused. (This is great news!)
On top of persistent exercises, Try to take regular breaks from the sitting position. The longer you sit without a break, the more likely the posture will revert back.
Hello! I really enjoyed the article.
How can I tell if the neck joints are already fused? I’m 47 and have had this problem my whole life.
I generally suggest trying out the exercises and if there has been a lack of improvement over 3-6 months, then this could mean that they are fused.
Other way would be to get a xray.
So sleeping with about 4 pillows does not help the situation, correct? Lol
I have found myself with this issue and at work I would catch myself
Extremely hunched and I would fix myself. But it was continuous. I do feel the “knot” like bump and would like to fix it. Does weight also come in to play with this?
Ha ha – 4 pillows underneath the head might be too much.
Extra weight on the body (especially in the arms and chest) can tend to pull the torso forwards. This can contribute to the Dowager’s Hump.
Thank you for the response.
Will one feel some discomfort when doing these exercises? When using a phone would you recommend bringing the phone up? I think this is my main issue since I do a lot of work from computer and phone (emails) so I’m constantly looking down (slouching) without me even realizing
Your blog is really informative. Can you give me some abdominal strengthening exercises. I have diastasis from twins and not quite ready for muscle repair surgery. Any suggestions to strengthen the core ? Thanks so much.
Probably best to start with the simple ones listed on this blog post: Core activation exercises.
I’m 32 and have had the hump for about 8 years. Do you think it’s likely fused? I plan to start doing the exercises every day.
Best to the exercises a good go for the next 3 months and see it there is any improvement.
If there is change- it is likely that it is not fused.
All the best.
First off I would just like to thank you for posting all this information and taking the time to help so many people improve their lives every day.
I am 49 years old and I have had rounded shoulders my entire life. I also have a slight case of scoliosis but have been athletic my entire life and have never let it bother me.
I recently started biking again and started feeling the back of my neck get really sore about 15 minutes into my first ride. It was too painful and strenuous on my neck to keep looking up, making it really uncomfortable to ride. I traced my spine with my fingers from the back of my head and i was shocked to feel what felt like what a vultures neck looks like! And that was when I noticed I have Dowager’s hump. I can feel the vertebrae above the hump go forward instead of upwards. Also, when I look up, it feels like my head just tilts rather than my neck curving along with it.
Because of my age and the length of time I must have had it, I have a bad feeling my hump can only be fused. I just started doing the exercises and standing straighter as much as I can throughout the day. I also started sleeping without a pillow (is a thin pillow better?) and hope it will help, but to be honest, I am feeling quite discouraged…
Do you think there is a chance of seeing any kind of improvement and do you have any words of advice given my situation ?
It is true that the longer that you have had your dowager’s hump, there more likely it will be fused. (But at the same time – it could just be very tight!)
You’d be surprised at how much it might improve by being consistent with the exercises.
At very least – it will likely reduce the chance of the bump getting worse.
Thank you for detailed post!
I am dealing with my dowager hump since for a while, I do not have huncback but instead I have slight flat upper back ( lumber curve is quite ok). My therapist told that because my upper back is flat, I am bending more from my neck… he advised that I should work for my flat back and also t-spine mobility. I am making “cat and cows” to increase the upper back curve but I feel that this type of exercises are increasing my hump, my C7 is sticking out more…Would you have any advise for me?
On top of addressing the bump, it is likely you will need to work on your flat thoracic spine.
Here are some exercises for that: Flat Back Posture.
At the bottom of the flat segment, it is likely there is a level where it is flexing forwards. You will need to specifically get more extension at this level.
Here are some exercises for that: Hunchback Posture. (You will need to target the specific level which is flexing forwards)
I’ve had a Dowager Hump for as long as I can remember – I’d say since I was 10 years old! However never realised until recently that this is not just something I have naturally – I’m a tall women and lean over a lot, and so o blame the dowager hump on my bad posture. I am a Paramedic and so you can imagine the amount of lifting, kneeling and bending I do!
I’m 32 years old and I do get tight muscles in my neck and, very recently, headaches. Since working on my upper body strength I’ve found my neck muscles and headaches have eased massively.
My height is 175cm, weight is 88kg, so BMI states I’m overweight – but I am working on it!
What advice could you give? I would be grateful for any information you give me, as I am 1. Very self conscious about this dowager hump and want to rectify it and 2. Want to improve my posture overall!
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Sounds like you are on the right path already! Working on the upper body can help take some pressure off the neck muscles.
On top of the exercises mentioned in the blog post to address the bump directly, working on Rounded shoulders, Forward head posture and Hunchbacked posture should help out too.
All the best!
Hi Mark! Can I fix this at the age of 21? My parents say I had slightly bad posture as a kid. I don’t really have any fatty tissue around the area (only since I lost weight) its just my C7 and T1 that stick out a fair bit making it look like a hump.
21 is still young! Now would be the best time to address it.
funnny i am the same
Hi Mark, I have been following your blog for a while. I find your exercises very effective — more thorough than some of the advice I have been given in person from some physical therapists.
Thank you, and keep up the great work!
Glad that you find the exercises helpful.
Hope it continues to help you out!
Hi mark do you have to do all these exercises? Can you list the most imllrtant ones that i can do regularly? Thanks :)
They are all important, but there will certainly be some exercises that would be more relevant to your individual presentation.
I suggest trying all of the exercises for the first few weeks. From here – you will gain a sense of what exercises help you the most. (and perhaps others not so much)
You can focus on the ones that give you the most benefit.
I appreciate very much all these valuable information at your website, it is very comprehensive.
I am 41 years old, I am dealing with Dowager Hump for a year. I had lots of stress on my neck and shoulders and a very nasty hump at the base of my neck when I started to exercise.
After a year, I could improve the rounded shoulders issue, a little improved forward head posture and I assume I have stronger back muscles.
But, I still have discomfort on my neck ,muscles are tight and I continuously make streches.
Based on my x-ray, my physiotherapist concluded that I have a flat neck, especially the upper part of my neck. Since 2 weeks I have been using a neck pillow due to advise of the physiotherapist and I started to feel a curve there. But I am a little worried, does it make my head more forward than before- since it is advised to use the thinnest pillow-? Or do you think making continuous chin tucks or suboccipital stretches contribute to my flat neck, especially upper part?
Thank you very much for your response!…
Make sure the neck pillow is positioned so that it is extending the the lower to mid neck. If it is only targeting upper cervical spine, it could possibly make things worse.
Chin tucks and sub occipital stretches will help address the forward head position.
I have Forward Head Posture and a slight hump. This has lead to neck tension, headaches and drunk like vertigo. I’ve already started with your exercises but I am wondering is there anything else I can do to address my problem, and in your opinion for how long should I practice until I notice improvements in my symptoms? Thank you!
You should feel some improvements fairly quickly with the right exercises.
In terms of complete reversal of the said issues, this would likely take months (perhaps even longer depending on the severity)!.
On top of these exercises, I would encourage you to address any rounded shoulders and hunched back posture that you may also have.
Are you planning on doing youtube tutorials of these exercises? I’m terrible at following written instructions. Worried will do the exercises wrong..
Thanks for the site. Just a quick question: I have a lot of concurrent postural issues (sway back, posterior pelvic tilt, anterior shift, forward head, dowagers hump, rounded shoulders, uneven shoulders, possible pelvic/spinal twist) – is there a particular order that you recommend addressing the issues and doing the relevant sets of exercises in? or is it best to rotate (do a few days per week of each), or what?
You can start in any area.
I usually start in the area of where there are symptoms, then go from there.
I have a number of postural issues and I’m finally trying to improve my posture (I’m male 27).
I’ve started doing chin tucks and recorded myself side on to check I was doing them correctly. I’ve noticed that in my resting posture (forward head, hump) my head almost tilts backwards (i.e. the back of the neck isn’t straight). Is this atypical with forward head posture/dowagers hump? I’m guessing with the exercises and the strengthening of neck muscles over time this resting posture will change.
When I straighten the neck the hump disappears somewhat so I feel confident I can make big changes!
Is it good practice to straighten my neck every time I notice I return to resting posture?
I’m also thinking of buying a brace to help keep me in good posture (I have rounded shoulders) – would you recommend this?
Thank you very much for all your help and I’ll start posting monthly updates so everyone can see my progress!
With a forward head posture, it is common to see the head tilted backwards. This is a sign that the back of the neck (especially the sub-occipital region) is fairly tight/overactive.
These exercises will help address this issue!
Self awareness is always the first step when addressing your posture. When you notice you go back into your forward head posture, try to re-adjust and maintain a better position. Keep in mind – don’t be worried if you can not sustain this position 100% of the time)
Postural braces are fine in the SHORT TERM. The main thing is not to become reliant on it.
Looking forward to seeing your progress.
This a continuation of the post I just posted a minute ago. The space between the wall and my c1, when I stand straight is 6 cm. Could you please give me your opinions, I really really need them.
I wanted your opinion on a bit of a matter. I have cervical radiculopathy affecting my left arm. I am a 25 year old woman, who has been mostly academically active, so, I have been always studying 24/7 with a bent head. The hump developed kind of when I was 14 years old.
Do you think your exercises will help me restore my natural curve of the neck, or will I always a bump?
The exercises will help provided that your bump is not fused in that position.
PS. If you have cervical radiculopathy, check out this post: Exercises for a pinched nerve.
Do you need to do every exercise in each subsection or is just doing one of a/b/c sufficient?
You don’t necessarily have to do all of them.
I’ve just tried to include different options for people to choose from.
Thanks for such great info. I just had one question. Most of these exercises involve giving yourself a double chin. I already have a slight double chin but if I eventually manage to straighten my neck, will it be at the expense of having a worse double chin?
Please note the the double chin exercises take the chin to its END RANGE position. This does not mean you should hold this end range position as your posture.
If your double chin is result to fatty tissue and/or loose skin, you may still have a degree of double chin once the head position is corrected.
You can also have a look into “mewing exercises for tongue posture” which may help the appearance of the area under the chin.
What size massage balls do you recommend?
I have one that is about 12cm and the other around 6cm.
I wanted to cry when you said it makes u look ugly
Sorry – I didn’t mean to come off as saying it makes people “look ugly”.
In general – I feel that people will look and feel better with any improvement in their posture.
I’ve been doing these exercises for 4 weeks now and I’m seeing huge results! The bump hasn’t become a lot smaller yet, but my neck is definitely more straight and my posture is getting better!
I do have one question; I’ve been massaging my traps and neck with the massage ball, but it seems like I have sensitive areas that never get better. No matter how much time I dedicate to rolling them, the pain never goes away. I usually only feel the pain when I’m using the massage ball on these sensitive spots.
Any advice? To me it feels like these spots should stop hurting at one point.
Awesome to hear that you are making some good progress with the exercises.
In regards to the sensitive spots – you will need to persist with it. Over time – they should improve.
If not – I feel you might need to address WHY they are getting tight in the first place. The main postural issue related to this would be Rounded Shoulders.
ive been overweight since i was 12 years old and now im 17 and this bump started when i was around 12 but now i lost about 20 kg and yes the bump slightly improved but not gone and when i touch it it doesnt feel like fat it feels like my bone has taken the shape of it and im so inscure about how should this exercises be enough?
The exercises will help with the bone alignment.
In terms of the fatty deposits, it is possible for that to reduce as well, however in some cases, you might need to get rid of it surgically.
PS. please check to see that you don’t have a Lipoma.
Hey Mark! I’m 24 with fibro and now I think I have this hump forming. Because of corona would you be able to consult with me via email or Skype?
Unfortunately – I currently do not have the time to do online consultations.
The exercises I recommend for the bump at the base of the neck are shown in this blog post.
How often would you say you should do these exercises?
2-3/week is fine.
Hello Mark, I am still able to reverse it am only 23 years old and does a back braces help?
Yes – you can still improve it at age 23. To reverse is 100%, that really depends on how tight it is!
Back braces are not recommended in the long term.
Hello Mark – just checking out the updated exercises – when I tried “side pressures” (4b) it became mildly painful – not a sharp pain – it is okay to go ahead with this one? Many thanks, Sarah
Never push into pain!
You can try it with a lesser intensity and see how your body responds to that.
If it still hurts, I would advise not to do it.
(chance areas – you are trying to move a very tight area. This can lead to a bit of pain)
I would just like to encourage people to give these exercises a try. I had a hump plus a forward head, and started doing these exercises about three years ago. It hasn’t been a cure, but I have seen measurable improvements. For instance, before I started these exercises, I could not make my shoulder blades lie flat to my back no matter how I tried. Now they sit quite flat automatically. My forward head problem has improved by maybe 75%. The line across the front of my shoulders looks much better – like a ballet dancer! Unfortunately, I still have “the hump” but I am going to continue to work on it. I’d like to get an x-ray and see a physio in person when I get the chance. I imagine using specialist traction equipment under supervision could help me further.
It isn’t easy. Learning all the exercises takes a while. Running through them takes me about 45 minutes (I am talking about the pre-2020 update list – haven’t tried this new version yet, so that might be longer or shorter). However, once you get familiar with the exercises you can focus on improving your form, stretching, and strengthening. At the end of the session you will see yourself literally “standing tall”. And it isn’t just a matter of doing the exercises: you need to be “resetting” your posture throughout the day as well.
So, do give it a try! It takes some effort but you will see some degree of improvement after about three months.
(Of course, check with your doctor before starting if you have any injuries or medical conditions that might be affected by these exercises.)
Wow – thank you so much for leaving this nice comment.
Great to hear of the improvements that you have made so far. I am positive that there will be even more improvements to come!
I really like how you have kept with the exercises for the past 3 years. Unfortunately – Majority of people tend to give up within 4 weeks.
If you are up for it , I would love to see if I can help you individually.
Please send me a direct message on the facebook group page and I’ll see if I can be of any help :)
Hi there! Thanks so much for putting this helpful information together.
I have Scheuermann’s disease kyphosis and have struggled since I was ten years old. I had a spinal fusion surgery T2-L2 to correct the 70 degree curve about four years ago after exhausting all conservative treatment options. This was right after I graduated college and before I began my career working in finance sitting at a desk all day.
I started PT a year after my surgery and it seemed to help with some pain. However, life happened, I tried to keep up with my exercises and I got back into the gym and began walking and lifting weights. I kind of fell off the wagon between juggling my career and finding time to go to the gym and then doing my PT exercises.
My neck has always bothered me since the fusion and my surgeon has instructed me several times to continue exercising. He was always adamant that my body would adjust to its new position with time. Well it’s been 3 years since I was cleared to do exercises and I still do have a bump and my neck is forward. Not only is it painful but unappealing to look at.
Is it still possible for me to fix this bump even though I’ve had surgery? I have not had any work done to my Cervical vertebrae. I am committed to fixing this now while I am young and to stop this from getting worse! I definitely don’t want another surgery in the future.
It is likely that the area at the base of your neck is very tight/compressed.
The exercises mentioned on the blog post should help with that.
If it is completely fused – then it is unlikely to change significantly. (although you can, at very least, prevent it from getting worse)
Thank you for the post, it is immensely appreciated!
I am 28 years old and I just realized I most likely have this condition a couple of weeks ago. The only thing that doesn’t fit much in my case is the fatty deposit around it. I am a bit overweight, but not obese (26 BMI), and I don’t notice more fat deposit there than in other places. The vertebra feels just very protruding and pointy, close to the skin, together with associated pains, although those have subsided considerably since I started exercising and sleeping in a better posture.
I will try to get an x-ray and see a professional in person as soon as this pandemic goes away, but I was wondering if you could clear some things up for me.
1. Is it really possible to fix a deformation of the spine with muscle exercise? It feels that no matter how straight I stand, that spine is just crooked now, as if a disc has shifted, it doesn’t want to shift back in place (and not even then 100%) unless I am lounging in this weird position, torso on a wedge or some pillows, chin tucked in deeply; but not while I stand. Will working on my muscles as instructed actually make them put that vertebra in place, or how does this really work?
I am just asking because understanding the process would greatly put my mind at ease, and give me some hope and motivation.
2. Also, I am so self conscious about it now, that I don’t even know how what would be the best sitting position for me anymore, since my vertebra is protruding even when I sit/stand ‘straight.’ There is some part of me that feels I am just enabling the deformation and that I should be sitting in some sort of compensating position mostly until this is fixed (like with a super tucked in chin or something. Any thoughts about that?
Thank you again for your time and effort of putting this together!
Hi there Laura,
And thank you for your comment.
1. It’s possible to influence the shape of the spine with exercises provided that the joints are not 100% fused together. For a vast majority of people, it is just super tight and compressed.(Think about how long you probably have had this issue for) In the case – time and consistency with the correct exercises will be the number 1 thing that improves it.
I would also suggest you look at other factors that may be contributing to it such as:
– Rounded shoulders
– Forward head posture
– Thoracic Kyphosis
– Large breasts with adequate support from bra
– Nature of your work/hobbies/sleeping position
2. Don’t force “good posture”. The goal with good posture is to naturally hold better alignment. This means you are not forcing muscles to jam your joints back in. I would suggest that you focus on the exercises for now.
If you want to sit with better posture, think about keeping your neck long and elongated towards the sky. Keep the chin slightly closer to your upper chest. Starting with a gentle 10-20% correction in your posture at the beginning is a better way to go about it.
Hope this helps!
Hi Mark! How do I know if my joints have already fused?
I would try the exercises for 3 months. THere should be at least some improvements by this time!
If not – you MAY be fused, or just very tight.
Do you have a YouTube channel that? It would be cool if you had some videos that we could follow along while you are doing it
I have had many requests for videos.
I’ll definitely have to set something up!
In the mean time, you can follow me on facebook.
do you think Arnold Schwarzenegger had this hump? you can see it from the side very clearly in some videos and sometimes even from the back, nobody talks about this, am I the only one seeing it?
I just spent 5 minutes looking at Arnold’s neck.
It does look quite prominent! Perhaps it is masked due to the muscle bulk of the upper trapezius muscle.
Thanks for your great instructions and advice. I am a professional violinist in an orchestra and have been playing for 21 years (I am 28 years old). The constant position of holding the violin with the chin/weight of the head has resulted in a pretty bad forward head position and Dowager’s Hump. But I never realised how bad it was or took action until now (I probably started noticing it almost 10 years ago).
In our theater I always notice that the ballet dancers are at the other extreme – their necks/spines are SO straight that it appears almost as if they don’t have the C7 vertebra!
Do you think by strengthening up my back muscles and doing the exercises you recommended, it would someday be possible for me to also have this ‘ballet dancer posture’?
All the best
The only factor that might stop you from improving your bump is it your joints are structurally fused together.
More often than not, most people tend to be just really tight!
These exercises will give you the best chance of gaining that ballet dancer posture. (Keep in mind – it does take time!)
I wish you all the best. (and happy violin playing!)
Hey. I am 18 years old and I started having this hump when I was of 12 years, as my height was increasing and due to that I started slouching.
Now it has become very evident and is extremely painful. I can’t look down continuously for more than 10 minutes else it pains too much and later it results in a very bad headache. In the morning when I wake up, I have a lot of pain and my shoulders ache too. I can’t use a pillow now, else it aches very badly for 2 days at a stretch. What am I supposed to do?
Start the exercises now.
Don’t wait. The longer you leave it, the more likely it’s going to be harder to correct.
Gpsh I came upon this site by accident. Really shocked at so many of these very young kids with “dowagers humps?” Most of it has to be caused by slouching or something at such a young age? I too have a dowagers hump and very embarrassed by it and wear my hair long. However, I cannot see how anyone can keep looking up and down at a computer screen and try to do these exercises? Mark, surely it would be wise to make a dvd? Where people like us can buy it and do it properly in our own homes? I have gone through so many of these reviews but it just went on and on forever, so it is obvious your site is very well liked! But I am really trying to get a dvd that I can use at home. I bet it would be a big seller Mark. I tried to do exercises on utube, but it’s no good, I really need to be able to follow a dvd and I am sure a lot of people could be helped better by following instructions. I just couldn’t follow some exercises on Utube. Any chance of a video/dvd??? Rosina Lock from United Kingdom
Hey Rosina Lock,
I plan to do videos for all the blog posts this year.
Hi there, thanks again for all the great information. I do have a dowager hump and a slight forward head posture, however I think the underlying issue is that my upper thoracic spine is flat, with no visible convex curvature what so ever. Now, I was wonderinig if my dowager hump is the result of the flat upper back by compensating for the missing curvature or is it the other way round and the flat back is the result of the dowager hump.
Nonetheless is there any way to adress the issue?
Thanks in advance, I’m really greatful for all the content you put up here,
I got you.
Check out this blog post: How to fix a FLAT back. (Focus on the THORACIC spine exercises.
I find that most people will tend to have a flat back due to compensating for the neck hump. (it can go either way really)
In addition to the exercises to fix posture and the hump, could I use any posture fixers that you buy from amazon? If so, do you recommend a specific brace?
There aren’t any braces that I know of that specifically address the hump.
However – You can use a brace for rounded shoulders to take some pressure off the hump.
(Keep in mind – I would not use it in the long term as the body may get used to it)
I have seen this post a few years ago and read it again after you updated it, I have a Dowagers Hump “without fat” meaning you can only see/feel the enlarged prominence of C6/C7/TH1. I was wondering if you believe there are cases of people who simply got larger spinous processes than most people which appears to be a hump while it actually “isn’t”? I have been doing lots of exercises for over 3 years now and I have learned a lot about the anatomy of the human body, but I can’t fix this hump by doing exercises for some reason, I have a slightly flattened thoracic spine, probably by over-doing rowing exercises because I didn’t know my upper back was actually flat instead of rounded (could this be the reason for my neck “replacing” the missing kyphosis from my upper back?) And if a flat back could be the cause, is doing upper back extension exercises something I should avoid from now on and instead focus on primarily doing your neck exercises?
PS: I will try to get a good X-Ray and find out if this problem could really be due to “too long spinous processes” because I feel like I got good posture.. and no forward head posture at all, just the hump for some reason, I can update you if you would like to know. One last thing regarding exercise: the hump goes away once I shrug my shoulders up, could doing shrugs or shoulder raising exercises help me or is it a bad idea?
thank you so much for your caring for people with this problem and your constant replying on this page it’s such a gift!!
The cervico-thoracic junction (c7/t1) is naturally bigger in everyone (… and perhaps even bigger in some). This is 100% normal. If this is the case, there is nothing to worry about!
I like how you are thinking! A flat thoracic spine can eventually lead to this issue. If you would like some exercises for this, check out this post: Flat back posture.
Shrugging will engage the muscles around the bump. This can hide the bump. If you lack muscle in this area (or if you are very skinny), building muscle in this vicinity might reduce the prominence.
Keep me posted!
I am so happy to finally know what that hump is! It has bugged me for years! I have asked chiropractors and even my yoga instructors and no one seemed to know. They said it was probably genetic. I want to start on these exercises immediately and was wondering what type of massage ball to buy. Is there a certain size or firmness to look for? I also have rounded shoulders which causes a lot of tightness to my upper back. I take yoga and go in for frequent massages to release the tightness.
Anything to help me feel better! Thank you!
The massage ball you use really depends on your tolerance.
There are different levels of firmness. Pick the firmness that you are comfortable with.
In terms of the size, I go for the usual lacrosse-sized ball.
In regards to your Rounded shoulders, here are some great exercises for you:
How to fix Rounded shoulders
All the best!
Can you elaborate more on the excercise e? its really difficult for me to do this and also i dont know if i am doing it right
Hi! Should I work on my Dowagers hump first or my forward head posture?
You can do both at the same time!
The exercises are quite similar.
Hey Mark, I’m starting to notice this bump and I feel I’m still pretty young, do you think it can go away, and if so, how long do I start noticing results?
If it just formed recently, then you should respond fairly quickly.
If the main problem is stiffness, I would say around 6 weeks. (but can vary depending on many factors!)
Hey mark. I have the same symptoms of dowagers hump and forward head posture, the only difference is my sternocleidmastoid is much tighter on the left side causing my left trap to be enlarged and askewing my head. Should I do the same exercises as instructed?
Hi i am 16 yrs old i am doing neck excercises can u pls tell me when will my hump go?
It really pains a lot
I am not able to sleep properly due to pain
It’s hard to say!
My recommendation is to give your body the best chance at fixing this problem by doing these exercises on the regular.
I’m 40 years old and I can feel my neck bone bigger and humped. When I was 17 a guy fell on my shoulder while jumping the fence to get inside the school. I was on the other side of the fence. I was checked by the Dr. And only found a tiny fracture in my left shoulder. About 8 years now I’ve had a lot of headaches, neck and back pain. My friend just notice the hump and told me I need to get it checked because it could be that I am producing too much estrogen and unbalanced hormones and stress? That it might be the reason why Im am tired and in pain all the time. Im not sure. I just want to be able to fix what I have since its causing me pain. Do you think that its what you talk about in the article or could it be something else?
It could be the Dowager’s hump!
Try out the exercises to see if it helps.
Hi Mark. Just wanted to say thank you so much for your site! I’ve been diagnosed with Upper Cross Syndrome/Rounded Shoulders already but your page on that has saved me finding a PT. I noticed that my Dowager’s hump wasn’t getting much better though and was pleased to find that you have a page on it too!
I had been doing chin tucks already, but they were difficult and the back of my neck down to my C7 felt tight and strained and almost painful with every tuck. Your page was the only guide I found that said what targets muscles to actually massage for this condition, and it’s the first step! After 5 painful minutes of rolling my suboccipitals on my massage ball I felt at least three MASSIVE knots I didn’t even know exist release. I combined that with a very gentle sternoclastoid release, exactly done as you recommended, and now a chin tuck is so much easier and I don’t feel immense pressure at the back of my neck. Thank you! I will try to do the exercises on this page as much as possible!
I like your comment!
Good to hear you are getting some improvements with the exercises!
The releases/stretches before everything else will help all other exercises be more effective!
Hi Mark. I have a noticeable hump from my neck to upper thoracic back since August 2018 and I have a very physical job where I have to constantly bend down, lift things, stand for long hours, etc. Can my job make it worse? Is there any way I can help straighten out my spine ? I’m 25 years old so I’m wondering if I can fix it now while I’m young . So tired of being in pain and I’m ready to do the work to improve the hump . So far, I have been working on opening my chest and pulling my shoulders back but it’s so hard to keep my head back.
Your job can certainly make it worse… especially if you have to constantly lift things from the floor (forward head posture/rounded shoulders combination).
The exercises mentioned in the blog post will be the best place to start off with.
>Note: If your joints have already fused together, it is unlikely that they can “un-fuse”.
What does this mean? Fused from birth? Age? How to know if it’s already fused
You can have fused joints from birth, age-related changes, following trauma/surgery, prolonged posture etc. It’s basically when the joints are stuck together and move as 1 unit (as opposed to having the ability to move individually to a certain degree).
If you work on the exercises consistently over time and there is absolutely no change in the ability to move the joints, then it is more likely that they are fused.
I was curious if a Dowager Hump feels “Squishy” around the vertebrae. I know, not a technical term, but I haven’t seen any mention of this.
Most likely adipose (fat) tissue that the body has deposited in the area.
If I have dowarger jump will it hurt to bend head backwards as if I’m looking up at the ceiling. It feels like my vertabre are being squished. I also get a burning down the left side of my neck into my shoulder blade. I exclusively breastfeed and am extended breastfeeding. Could this be the cause and if so, how will my extended breastfeeding continue to effect my neck. At least every 6-8 weeks it feels like i pulled a muscle in my neck and makes it hard to move my head in any direction without having severe pain.
Looking up is a good exercise if you can bias the movement to come from the lower back region. It you just kink your head backwards, you might be squishing the upper/mid portion of your neck.
It’s hard to adopt a good position whilst breastfeeding.
My advice would be to use a fairly thick pillow to help support the weight of your baby as you are feeding. Try to avoid hunching over for prolonged periods at a time, keep moving, change positions regularly.
Leaning back on a recliner chair might help! (stick pillows under your elbows and the baby for adequate support.
On top of that, if you have spare 5-10 minutes, try to get into a routine of doing exercises and stretches. Exercises here and here might help.
I have had a dowager’s hump (forward head only) since I was 12 years old due to studying with a bent head a lot. I am 24 now. You said with time the bones tend to fuse together. I wanted to ask if my neck bones would have perhaps permanently fused in their humped position?
I believe in most people, this area is just super, super, really, super tight!
At 24, you are still at a very young age to make a change to it!
Start now if you can.
Could you clarify the Self Neck Traction a bit? If you are lying down, do you pull the head “up” as in toward the ceiling or do you pull the head away from the body, parallel to the floor??? Thank you!
Apologies for not being clear.
You want to pull the head away from the feet. The 2 hands will be pulling in the opposite direction.
Hope this clears things for you.
Hello Mark! What if such a hump looks mostly like one vertebra (C7) being so much bigger and visibly prominent above surface. Does this condition can be fixed with the exercises?
Thank you so much for so much useful info!
It could be that the actual bone is enlarged.
It could also be that it is more posterior glided position relative to the other joints. If this is the case, the exercises on the blog post should help out!
I am 22 years old and have poor posture since I was about 5/6 years old, I have a hump on the back of my neck and it’s really making me depressed, will these exercises help get rid of the hump and make my neck spine go straight again or is it too late? I have some pictures and would like to show you of the different I have made in a week if there is an email I could send them to
I am 13 and noticed I have a Dowager’s hump. I am devastated. I have been wearing my hair down to hide it and I wear my hoodies to hide it aswell.
I have no idea how long I have had it for.
How often should I do these exercises to get rid of it before September when I go to High School?
Can I COMPLETELY get rid of it?
Is there anything else I can do to fix it?
Your young so my feeling is that you should respond quicker to the exercises.
Do it every day if your body allows you to.
I’m 34, are my bones fused by now? Is it too late?
Hard to say!
I would still recommend giving the exercises a go. See how far you can push your body.
Bruh same.. I don’t like my hair up I always have it down to hide it and I also wear hoodie too and I just am very insecure I’m 14 . I hate myself so much .
Hello Mark …Sorry to disturb you again but I wanted to ask that if I do these exercises daily without going to a doctor though I know I have this hump so then is it possible that it can be fixed like before and I’m 16 so is it possible that my joints are already fused? and I’m not a back sleeper so what posture should I adapt to to fix this problem ? I’m glad that I found these exercises
I am.overweirght so i know that affects my bad posture and I’m sure the fatty on my hump. Do you think focusing on becoming healthier and weightloss overall will help me lose the hump or do I need to be more intentional with my posture and exercises targeting the hump as well? I shouldnt just rely on cardio and exercise for weight loss alone, correct?
Excess body weight can affect your posture.
I would recommend to focus on weight loss in conjunction to postural exercises.
There is lots of info here ! Thank you so much much. I’m so depressed about this hump on my neck and now I could do something about it! Do you have clients? If so where are you located?! I’m so sick of this thing!!
Hello ken, first of all i would like to thank you for the valuable information on your website and your efforts to help us improve posture. After taking the time to analyse my body i have realized that i seem to suffer from everything you have listed, hunched back, dowagers hump and rounded shoulders, i’m aware that this is due to me not sitting straight and lying on my couch a long time each day. For my question, is it okay that i exclude the exercises in which message ball and foam roller are required? because i don’t have them and they are expensive where im from.
That is fine.
The stretches and strengthening exercises are more important anyway.
Hi! Thank you for this post and all the exercises! Should I feel intense headache and even motion sickness after some of them though…? Exercise 4e is the only I cannot do (half of the reps maybe). All the others, I can do them easily if it wasn’t for the motion sickness/headaches. I plough through but… should I? Why am I like this?
Hey there Del,
Do not push through dizziness.
The area around the neck is quite a sensitive area that can cause dizziness and headaches. (… especially if you are super tight in the area)
I would reduce the intensity of how far you are pushing yourself with them by 20% or so and see how it feels. From here – slowly ramp it up and re assess for your symptoms.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply! And thank you for this post and sharing your knowledge!
Thank you so much Mark.
i have a forward head posture and neck hump ,
i want to ask if cervical wedge is a right way to mobilize my cervical spine, i mean if i put it below the hump and do chin tucks with extension
is this a good movement?
This can help isolate the movements to the hump.
How often would you recommend doing these exercises? Everyday?
If you can! However – it depends if your body is able to tolerate that frequency.
You can start off with 1-2 times per week. See how they body responds. And adjust the frequency from here.
I am so glad I found this page, thank you for providing this information!
as I was doing the sternocleidomastoid stretch, turning my head, I was noticing a sharp pain between my neck and shoulder, could that just be a tight muscle?
If the pain is along the pathway of the SCM, then it is quite possible is it just tightness.
I’m 14 and I have it so is it ok to do it at this age
That is completely fine.
Quick question – is joint fusion a function of just time or severity? I believe I have a very mild dowagers hump if at all (I have a fat pad at the base of the neck but then again, I am about 50 lbs overweight). I’m 24 and have had less then ideal head posture since I was in highschool so I wanted to know if my joints were likely to be fused.
Hey there John,
It’s really a blend of the 2.
But given your age and mild severity, it is less likely that is fused together.
Hi Mark! I’m a 19 year old female and I do have a jump! How do I know if my bones have already fused together?
If you have tried the exercises at the right intensity/technique over a long period of time with NO IMPROVEMENT at all, then it is more likely fused.
However- given your young age, it is less likely fused.
I have what’s called “military neck”, diagnosed with X-ray. Also a hump at base of neck. I get terrible headaches that seem to originate in the sub occipital area, and last as long as 2-3 days. I take a combination of muscle relaxers and NSAIDS with gabapentin for the pain. I’m 42 and look downward to medical charts for 9 hrs a work day for the last 16 years or so. Any recommendations? Are the headaches, military neck and hump all related? Thanks.
Military neck basically means you have lost the natural curve (lordosis) in the cervical spine.
This generally couples a dowager’s hump and a forward head posture presentation.
The likely reason for your sub-occipital headaches is the hyper extension of your upper cervical joints.
This can cause compression of the muscles and joints.
Hello! I started noticing a bump on my neck almost around august of 2018 and I feel like its getting worse.Ive always had bad posture but because I paint for long hours I think that might’ve affected my neck.I have a few questions
1.I’m 15 years old and is it easier to do this exercises while your bones are still growing?
2.Whats an alternative for the massage ball?
3.Approximately how long will it take to fix and how often should I do this exercises
(everyday?once week?) and how long should the whole exercise take?
sorry for many questions!!! I really would appreciate it if you would answer.
Thanks for your questions:
1. The younger you are, the better the chance you will be able to fix your hump.
2. You can use a foam roller.. or perhaps even a tennis ball.
3. It’s hard to say how long it will take. But if you only developed it fairly recently (and taking your young age into consideration), you should be on the faster side of things.
If your body can comfortable tolerate it , you can do the exercises every day.
Excellent analysis and recommendations. Do you do online consultations? How does one get directly in touch with you? I would like to discuss my neck issues with you.
I don’t have time to do online consultations at the moment.
But that might have to change in the near future!
Make sure you follow me on facebook. If I start to do them, I would announce it there first.
I came across your page today and wanted to ask you if you think I can still fix my dowager’s hump. I’ve had it since I can remember, most likely back to when I was a teenager and had bad posture. Is it likely that my joints have already fused or do you think I can still fix it? I’m going to try either way. Thanks
I’m 27 now by the way. Forgot to add that
That is exactly the best way to approach it! Try either way!
The longer you have had it, the more likely it will be fused. But it’s not always the case.
At very least – these exercises will stop it from getting even worse.
best of luck!
This actually fixed mine, was doing the strengthening part and got a crack and pop in my neck so I stopped. Didn’t think anything of it until I work up next morning feeling tender, felt the back of my neck and the bump is very reduced. Not sure if that was supposed to happen like that but at least one less thing to worry about :)
Now the tricky part is keeping it in the right spot!
I have completely gotten rid of my dowager’s hump by sitting on my seat, keeping a rolled towel behind the dowager’s hump and sitting while working. The bone has aligned back into its original position. However I have one problem. The fat above the bone is still there. In the mirror, it looks like I have a big hump but when I press it, it’s just fat. The bone is inside.
What can I do to get rid of fat there?
If the fat does not go away by itself with time (can be quite a long time!), the only other option is to get it surgically removed.
Would working out, especially shoulder exercises help remove it?
It will help!
Please explain your rolled towel more…
My daughter is almost 6 and a big girl….way off the charts height and weight for her age. I just noticed a large hump on the back of her neck about 7-8mo ago when I couldnt get her to put her head back enough to rinse her hair out. I forgot to mention it to the pediatrician ladt time because I was worried about her thyroid but her thyroid is fine. Would it be normal for a not even 6yr old to already have a large hump on the back of her neck?
I don’t see a lot of children in the clinic, but just from looking at kids in general, I feel that it is not common for a 6 year old to have a bump on the neck.
How’s her posture in general?
And she quite physically active?
I’m 14 and I’ve had a Dowager’s hump for a few years and I’m very insecure about it. I’m just worried that I won’t work on me. If it somehow won’t work on me what else would you recommend?
Exercises are the main thing I would recommend to focus on.
I am not aware of any other methods to completely eliminate it. There is surgery to physically remove the extra fat deposits in the area which might make it look a bit smaller, but it really doesn’t do anything for the alignment of the joints/bones.
Hey mark I was wondering if I can still fix my hump even though I’ve had scoliosis surgery.
There is always room for improvement.
At very least, you can stop the hump from getting even worse.
I have some backpain issue since four years
how can i consult you?
Hi Dr.Mark ….I’m 16 and I also have this hump for 1 year and I’m very worried about it so I decided to take advice from you cz I’m a student and all I have to do is study whether I’m at college or at home so it’s kind of difficult for me to get time for the whole exercise though it’s wonderful but kindly Can you just tell me the basics of this exercise? So that I can do it easily….I commented on your post with a great hope and kindly just tell me that If I only do the basics & not the whole exercise then how much time it will take to recover ?
If you don’t want to do the full program, it might be hard to know where you need direct most of your time and effort towards.
I guess you can just do the stretches to begin with and see how it goes from there.
Okay …thnx alot Dr.Mark …You’re amazing
thank you ever so much for the wonderful and detailed advice you have on your web-pages! I had had posture problems for 40 years, and the problems had gone more serious over the years. I had also developed the Dowager’s hump which also had gone very serious. However, web search landed me on your amazing web-page, and I started fixing my posture, and my Dowager’s hump according to your instructions in July 2018, and now, after almost 8 months’ work, my posture is great, Dowager’s is no more, and I have never felt better, physically and mentally. I am grateful beyond words for your advice. Thank you Mark, you are a superstar!
WOW. I love this comment!
I am so happy for you!
Thanks for coming back to let me know of your success!
Hi Mark. I am writing about my 22 year old son who injured himself over a year and a half ago and has had tremendous amounts of treatment but still cannot sit without pain. It appears to be his right QL. He has forward head posture and a rounded upper back. He is being treated by a great guy and has had some relief but a few rows just brought all the pain back. Any exercise that moves his ribcage aggrivates the area… even brushing his teeth. Walking seems to help and he has had some pain free weeks but he cannot do normal things like play basketball or any other sports. His therapist has stares that adam needs to correct his mouth breathing and he does have a flared ribcage. my husband and I are at a loss on how to help him. He is in the orlando Florida area. Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Pam
What kind of exercise program is he on at the moment?
hi i was reading your page about Dowager’s hump. i have another follow up appointment with the dr on friday but i have always had it and it is getting bigger, dr thought it was lipoma and sent me for an ultrasound. i assume this is what i have but its gotten bigger over last couple months and getting more headaches and getting numb arms (yes i am overweight) but i dont eat to badly. how long does this process take to reduce or am i past the point of help
There is always something that we can improve!
In terms of how long it is going to take, it really depends on your individual presentation.
But if you are definitely noticing things are getting worse, you will need a strategy to address it as soon as possible. These exercises will be a great place to start. (just make sure that it does not aggravate any existing symptoms)
Hello, I am so glad I found this page!!!
I believe I had Dowager’s hump for five years now. Lately I have seen it improve because I’ve corrected my posture but at the same time I started developing this terrible pain around my neck and shoulders. I hope your suggested excersises can help aliviate the tension.
Anyway, you mention that the joints can get fused. After five years, do you think is too late for me?
It’s never too late.
Keep persisting with it. I would still suggest you do the exercises even if you had those joints fused.
Hi Mark! I’m so glad I stumbled on your article. I’ve recently developed this terrible hump and I’m experiencing pain and occasionally I hear popping/cracking sounds at the base of my neck. In November of 2016, I had an ACDF ( anterior discectomy and fusion) levels C3-5. Double fused with plate and screws and cadaver bone. I do not have the same range of motion anymore obviously but I hoped to do better. My question is can I perform these exercises safely , considering I have this plate? I want to get rid of this hump- it looks terrible and hurts. I also would eventually get this plate removed for other reasons but that’s another issue. What is your professional advise? Thank you.
Since your C3-5 is fused together, you will not able to move these joints individually anymore.
It is fine to do the exercises, but you will need to be careful not to force any movements. Everything should be gentle and comfortable.
Of course – if in doubt, ask your surgeon :)
I thought it would be nice to hear from someone who completely reversed their neck hump. I probably had mine for many years and it felt hard, and whenever I got it massages it would go really hot and turn flabby before turning rock hard again soon after. It was also really crunchy when I massages it myself. I found your article and did these stretches daily while at my desk, as well as using the posture pump which was very helpful. It has probably taken 6 months or so to completely get rid of the hump. I do the exercises now probably once a week to keep it in check and make sure my posture at the computer is much better, but it looks and feels so nice and also strange to have a normal neck again, I just didn’t think it could be possible- so thanks so much!!!!
This has to be the best comment I have read today :)
I love hearing these success stories!
Thank you so much for letting me know.
hi, Mark. Great article! Just have a few questions. I’ve had a dowagers hump for about 2 years now & i started today with your exercises, do you think with me staying consistent with exercises and changing my posture, and not letting head lean forward anymore maybe improve my posture & make dowager hump go away? Or do i have to do something more.
The exercises will help reduce the dowager’s hump (or at very least, prevent it from getting worse).
You will also benefit from addressing Rounded shoulders (if you have them).
I found this article because the pain in my neck and back was so bad that I was starting to not be able to use my arms fully, or sit upright for more than a few seconds. I tried stretching of course, but nothing was actually releasing or improving, so I poked around and found your page. I kid you not, INSTANT tension and pain relief, like, I was popping everywhere. It wasn’t a miracle cure of course, I mean I still feel pain, but OMG I can take deep breaths without chest pain, my headaches finally stopped, and I can sit upright! I made myself a little cheat sheet and really wanted to tell you thank you, you didn’t have to put all of this together, but you did :) so thank you.
WOW! I love it when I receive these comments!
Great to hear, Christina!
Keep up the good work.
Nice Post! Thanks for Sharing the Post.
Great Dowager’s hump! Post
Hi! Do you recommend any type of legit back brace that can help along with these exercises and stretches? There are so many online and bad reviews, don’t want to get ripped off.
I don’t really get my patients to use the braces so I am not sure which one is the best!
I might need to do some research and write a post on it!
Thank you for this great article it’s thorough and I hope it can help me improve my unsightly hump.
But I have two questions first how can you tell that the joint’s are fused can it be identified on an x-ray?
Seconed is it notmal to have pain between my shoulder blades when doing the exercises?
It is not normal to have pain between shoulder blades with the exercises.
Be a bit more gentle and it should be fine.
Fused joints can be implied in xrays, but it’s best to try out the exercises over a long period of time and see how you respond.
I notice I have pain between my shoulders. Even when trying to correct posture. My doctor said it’s from re-training the muscles and that it can be normal in the beginning as you’re using the different (correct) muscles in ways you hadn’t before.
100% agree, Jessica!
Hi! What a wonderful article on the dowagers hump. I have dowagers hump and I have noticed whenever I try to lift my arms over my head and it requires repetitive movement over by head I get a terrible headache the next two days. Is this because of the hump? If so, what do you want recommend?
The dowager’s hump could be part of your headaches… especially if you are looking up when you lift you arms up.
Other factors that you may want to consider:
1. Forward head posture
2. Rounded shoulders
3. Lack of full shoulder flexion
4. Thoracic kyphosis
5. Weak shoulder muscles causing your neck muscles to compensate
First off, thank you for such a thorough article! I’ve been an athlete my entire life, but I stopped consistently working out since my collegiate athletic career ended about 2.5 years ago. I noticed this fatty hump at the base of my neck about 1.5 years ago and thought it was just from all the squatting I did but after this article and more research, I’m pretty sure I have the Dowager’s hump (All I do is sit in front of a computer now). I genuinely want this to go away and plan to do these exercises. Some questions though; how often should I do these? Should I do all of them? What do you recommend I do since I have to sit in front of a computer most of the day? Sorry for the long comment and thanks so much!
You can do them every day if you like. More the merrier I say. (Just as long as your body can tolerate it)
Start by doing all of them. As you become more familiar with them, you can focus on the ones you feel the most difference with.
Sorry if you answered this already but what’s a good way to sleep on my side thats healthy for my neck? I try to sleep flat on my back – no pillow, but I end up turning.
Thank you so much
I encourage people to sleep on their back as it is the most symmetrical position.
However – if you are a side sleeper and there are concerns regarding the neck, just make sure your pillow is the appropriate height as to keep your neck in a neutral position.
Be sure to tuck the pillow into the side of the neck to provide support.
hello, im a 15 year old and i was wondering if going to gym will make my posture normal/straight
Gym is great, but you will need to do specific exercises to encourage a better posture.
Hope you are doing good.
I went through this website and it seems very helpful.I am 32 years old and have hunch back along with rounded shoulders, now forward neck is also there.This Hunch back is from past 15 years and I really feel discomfort with it.Even when I dress up my photos come ugly because my posture is quite noticeable and I am very thin ( Height 5Ft 4 Inch ,weight 45Kg).When I do Yoga,for first half of day my posture will be erect but later half of day body starts crouching and looks ugly.Even when I wear some dress with straps I get Intense pain.
From past 6 months I can’t walk for more than hours or can’t stand more than a hours as i get intense back pain and I feel like lying on bed or sitting on chair.Even my working habit is not correct.I sit for 10hrs continuously infront of laptop without any proper break.I even get pain while sleeping may be position is not correct.
I consulted Physiotherapist ,they said my back muscles are weak and therapy is needed.I am going for therapy also.
Please help me to come out of this discomfort and ugly part of my life.What can be done to make back muscle strong.
The exercises mentioned on the blog post will be great starting point for you in addressing your posture.
However- I would recommend that you need to address your aggravating factors such as the time you sit without a break to help reduce some of your pain.
Try getting out of your seat every 30-60 minutes for a quick stretch.
hi mark, ive have had dowagers hump and that fat thing which i guess is known as buffalo hump since 3,4 years now and im 15. Im thinking of getting liposuction but if i get liposuction will the fat and dowagers hump go away?
The fat around the hump will reduce with liposuction, however, if your bump is closely related to your posture (namely a Forward head posture), then the fat may come back in time.
if i start going to gym will it help? i mean i saw somewhere going to gym will help in forward head posture so like can i go to gym and then do a lipo?
Will losing weight contribute to getting rid of Dowager’s Hump. I mean even a little?
Excess weight can influence one’s posture.
By losing some weight, it may reduce the pressure on the neck and thus reduce the Dowager’s
I’m so glad I found this article! I’m 48 and went thru menopause at the young age of 44, this seems to be about the time my “hump” started forming. Is there any correlation between hormones and the fat pad that forms?
I’m also curious – if the hump is made of fatty tissue (mine feels and looks like it is), are you saying these exercises/stretches can remove the fat? I’m about 20 pounds overweight (gained in the last 5 years) and am also curious if weight gain is associated with the hump?
I’m looking forward to looking through other articles of yours.
Hi Tracey, I realized that my hump issue may have also started around menopause too. Did Mark send a response? Have he exercised helped. I just came to the realization that I need to do something about the issue as I’m staring to get more neck and shoulder pain.
I really liked the points you have made about neck problems. I have neck disc protrusion and need to embark on relevant exercises and treatment. Your suggested exercises are now in my list. Thank you indeed.
Meanwhile, do you think using posture correctors help? What kind would you recommend for neck disc protrusion, if at all?
Thank you in advance.
Thanks for the comment!
Posture correctors are great in the short term as to serve as a reminder to be aware of the posture.
However – Long term use may actually make your postural muscles weak/lazy as you become overly reliant on it to sustain an upright posture.
Hi .This problem started when i spent 5-6 hours using laptop lying on my bed and i realized later i got a really bad posture.Now the probelem has increased very much and i feel a lot of pain and stiffness.Whole day im in pain in the neck area and cracking sounds come when i do stretches. Im not understamding what to do..life has become hell. Im preparing for exams im 16 year old student but im unable to focus on anything. Would these exercises help? Plz advice
The whole website will help you :)
The first step will be using the laptop in a more ergonomic way.
From here, try to take frequent breaks when using your laptop.
Thanku so much i tried the exercises and they were really great. how many imes should i do these per day for better results??
Bro I am just 27 And my neck is forward and having small jump on back of neck pls help my future is being destroyed because of this
The exercises are the best way to go about addressing it.
You can also see a health professional for more help.
Thank you. I’ll be sure to check out your book. I thought this was good information with realistic expectations. :)
Thanks for the comment, Linda. :)
Thank you so much for this! Finally I have some validation. My family thinks I’m crazy because I ask them to pull my shoulders back for me or I stretch my chest and shoulders in very strange ways. I often feel like I’ve been bound around my chest and head and I feel like my chest needs to open up if that makes any sense. Having someone pull back my shoulders feels so much better and I can’t seem to get the relief myself. I do have the hump slightly and the stretching relieves the pressure somewhat. Lately I can’t lean my head back without using my hand for support without pain. Almost as if I can’t hold my head up. Could my muscles be that weak?
Sounds like you have the classic Forward head posture + Dowagers hump + Rounded shoulders and possibly a thoracic hyperkyphosis... all of which can lead to the symptoms you described.
If your neck muscles are weak, strengthening will be key! (the exercises in the above posts (clickable links) will contain everything that you need)
I’m 17 and it’s been 2 years that I have this hump problem. Its been nearly one week that I’ve been doing your exercises and I can see a little bit of change. Do you know how long it will take me to fix this problem? It’s been very stressful, not only because it looks ugly but because I don’t feel comfortable in my own body anymore. I’m 56kg and 1.68 tall (sorry for the units). I’m looking forward to your answer.
It’s hard to give you a time frame on this as it really depends on many factors.
Try not to be too self conscious with it. Chances are that you notice it waaaay more than everyone else around you.
I wish there was an educational program in schools about the hazards of poor posture. Thank you for this great article! It has given me hope, as well as help, that the hump can be improved.
I agree! There needs be some sort of intervention EARLY in life to avoid issues LATER in life.
Really appreciate such detailed and comprehensive article. Sometime back, my chiropractor adjusted my neck and immediately I started as if something happened to my face, as if something is crawling on my face. He says it has nothing to do with adjustment. But it happened right after the adjustment. No just that, everytime I move my neck side to side little fastly, I get big cracks and clunks. These cracks feel as if they are coming in the head but I guess they are in the neck itself. Plus my jaw doesn’t feel aligned anymore and I feel a continuous pressure in my hard palate and at the point where my nose meets my forehead. The reason I know it’s all connected is that when I press hard on my palate, there is some cracking in my neck region and the moment I release the pressure, another clunk. It feels though it’s in my head or face. Similarly when I press my forehead hard against my head, the pressure on the nose goes away. One day I noticed a big hump under my neck which I never noticed before. And I have realized that when I tuck my chin in and push my head back the face also feels better and nasal pressure goes away. Does it sound strange to you or it makes any sense? My physio says that adjustment could have imbalanced my C-1, plus my neck arch is too much may be due to hump. I am just tired of too many cracks, clicks and clunks. Would wait for your response as to how to deal with it.
There are quite a few nerves running around the face that may have been involved:
But from the symptoms you described, there may be excess pressure to your sub-occipital region (base of skull at the back).
I haven’t assessed you in person but things you can consider: (but ask your physio)
– Releases to the sub-occpital region
– Traction of the neck
– Stretch the SCM, Sub-occpital region, back of the neck
– Strengthen Deep neck flexors (as mentioned in the blog post)
This is a very informative post! Thank you so much.
Will hanging on an inversion table help with my downgers hump at all?
I haven’t personally used an inversion table so I can’t really say.
However – if you were going for a good neck stretch, I would use a neck traction machine/device.
Thanks for the in-depth article. You mention in one of your answers to a comment that scans (by which I’m assuming you mean X-rays) can be misleading as far as determining whether vertebrae have fused and that the best way to determine whether they are fused is by the lack of progress over time.
1. What is a good amount of time of daily exercises without progress before one can be fairly certain that fusing has already happened?
2. You also mention that time with the Dowager hump is a factor and I’m assuming absolute age is also a significant factor. I can’t remember how long I’ve had this (most likely at least 4-5 years) but I’m 37 now; how old is that in terms of the likelihood of my vertebrae having fused?
3. Finally you mention that “un-fusing” is unlikely. Is it ever actually possible or is the best one can hope for at that point to limit further degradation?
Thanks in advance for taking the time to read this.
1. It’s really hard to place a time on it as there are many factors. But if you have persisted with the right exercises at the right intensity with the appropriate technique for 3 months and there are still no changes, then this may suggest that the joints are fused. Another reason for lack of improvement is that another area of your posture may need to be addressed before working on the hump itself. (eg. thoracic spine hyperkyphosis)
2. I consider any issue existing longer than 1 year quite a significant amount of time. In terms of the vertebra being fused, 5 years can definitely fuse the joints. At the same time, it can just “get very tight” as well.
3. It’s theoretically possible (and honestly I have not witnessed one ‘un-fuse’, but the time it would require to reverse the fusion process, it would be too significant. For these people, the aim would be to prevent further degradation, and to optimise other areas of the body.
Hope this helps, Jeremy!
I am 22 and have been working a desk job for the past 2 years. I am going into a field where I will continue to be working in front of a computer. I’ve noticed a hump developing since I’ve started these jobs. What I’m wondering is since I’m younger if there is a chance for me to reverse it since I noticed it early on? If I use these exercises and maybe go to a chiropractor as well? Are there any surgeries that would reverse this? Thanks so much!
You have age on your side! The exercises will likely be more effective in your case.
I am currently 23 going on 24. I am honestly not sure how long I have had this bump. I used to think it was just formed from me becoming overweight since graduating High School. Now I believe it’s from studying and bad posture. I read in the post above that age is on our side; since I don’t know the approximate time of when my bump formed should I consider getting an X-Ray? And are there any devices you would recommend I wear throughout the day to maybe help with my posture issue?
Hi! Would you suggest maybe using a posture correcting brace along with these exercises?
You can use it for a short time, but I would not rely on it long term as it may make your postural muscles lazy.
I have rounded shoulders partnered with a hump at the back of my neck (still unsure if it’s a Dowager’s hump but I really think it is). It’s crazy how poor posture can lower ones self confidence especially mine. I’ve had these ever since I was back in grade school. I can still remember how my sister pointed that out in front of a large crowd and I’ve never felt more embarrassed and conscious. I’m glad I came to your article because after reading everything it gave me hope that I can still fix my posture. Do you think it’s best to fix my rounded shoulders first before doing the exercises that would remove the hump?? Or I can fix both at the same time?
Also, I would like to share my experience about a month ago when I went to an orthopedist. I went to have the hump checked out and honestly hoping that the doctor would say it’s a dowager’s hump. However he seemed to not notice my concern about the hump and said it was normal. He only said it was “text neck”. Something the younger generation has nowadays. Thus, I left still unfulfilled since what he just told me was to use my phone less and the pain in my neck will go away… i guess my forward head posture was not that noticed that day.
If you have the time – I would do both.
If you are short on time, just pick one and start on that.
It’s going to take time, but your consistency will pay off eventually :).
With continued proper posture do you believe that my dowager’s hump may improve?
I believe it may improve.
(At the very least, it will prevent it from getting worse!)
Thanks for putting this article out here. I discovered I had this about 1.5yrs ago. In a hotel, just relaxing and happened to rub my head and thought ‘what the hell is this?’.
Mine is not so prounounced but I used to do a lot of driving in the UK for my last role and one the road for hours & hundreds of miles you forget about posture period.
Do you have any success stories of people that have managed to reverse this even 50% as I know its probably impossible to go full recovery.
For sure! However – if you are fused in this area, there may be some limitations as to how far the exercises will take you.
If you are fused, the next best thing to aim for is to prevent it from getting worse.
I’m 58 and have worked at a computer since my 20’s. I have the Dowager’s hump and I also noticed that everyone in my family gets it as they age. I am guessing that reading in bed is a no-no since my head is usually bent at a 90 degree angle when I do so?
Hello Mary Ellen,
You can still read in bed. Just aim to sit more up right, keep your head in a more neutral position and bring your book slightly higher.
Perhaps a book holder may help too!
Wow thank you so much for this awesome resource! I have forward head posture from hours at the computer and am developing an unsightly hump! I will begin this regime immediately!
Thanks for taking time to write me a comment.
All the best!
Hello: Thank you for the great information. I am a teacher and years of looking down to grade have caused a hump to form. Do you think this problem
Will be an epidemic for our youth that are constantly looking down at their phone?
Looking down for prolonged periods can lead to an eventual hump.
I am really worried about the youth! In the next 10 years or so, my feeling is that we are going to see an influx of postural related issues.
I’m 55 years old. 5’3, 150 lbs. Broke my neck in 2003 (by c6/c7if I remember right) I have a subluxation at c6/c7. Osteoarthritis, spurs from top of neck to bottom of spine. When I lay down at night on a pretty flat pillow I start wheezing some. And have numbness in my arms at times. And a bad dowagers hump (started in my early 20’s) I do feel a lot of my problems come from having broke my neck and the hump. Will your exercises help me? Thanks so much.
The exercises will help you. At very least, it will prevent it from getting worse.
Sorry, one last question! When I did the thoracic stretch in the doorway, my left arm went instantly numb and tingly…is this ok??! ?
Noo! That is not good. This is likely due to your nerve being impinged.
Try to do the exercises again but with your neck slightly bent (chin to chest) and keep your arms a bit lower.
Thank you, lowering arms seemed to stop the numbness
Awesome – likely a positional issue that is complicated by your neck postural issue.
Thank you so much for giving us dowagers sufferers some hope! I thought I was condemned to have a humpy neck forever. My mum and sister gave it too, I thought it was hereditary!? I’m 36, and have had this for as long as I can remember and it really gets me down, especially when friends innocently point it out! I think hunching due to lower confidence and trying to stretch out my double chin may not help either. Again, I carry 2 big boobs around which can’t help. I imagine the modern problem of people hunching over to look at their phones isn’t great either!! I do carry extra weight, which I’m trying to lose…will this help to reduce the hump too? Also, will massage help? Final question, I often sleep on my front with neck turned to the side, should I avoid doing this if possible?? Thanks again for such a wonderfully explained post, you have helped a lot of people! Siobhan
Sleeping on your stomach isn’t the greatest way to promote good posture, especially if you are trying to address your Dowagers.
If you habitually like to sleep like this, a better way to do it would be to have a pillow underneath your head/chest area so that you can sleep slightly off to the side so that you are not completely lying on your stomach.
Massage will help with the tight muscles, but stretching is just as good.
Extra weight from the breasts at the front will tend to droop your shoulders down which will also put more stress on the bump.
Are orthopedist familiar with this condition? Is an x-ray conclusive for diagnosis? I have only noticed this as an issue for a couple of weeks, so I am hopeful that it can be corrected relatively quickly. Thanks for the articles and stretches/exercises!
They will be familiar with it.
XRs give a good indication if you have it.
Thank you so much for your wonderful site! I tried these for the first time a few days ago and am in a little pain in the area lately, which maybe is par for the course. However, I did feel some immediate relief after doing the stretches,which was amazing! My problem now is that the strength exercises involving tucking in your chin cause me to feel REALLY nauseated. I’m probably doing it wrong, but is there any way this can be minimized?
Look slightly downwards before you do the chin tuck exercises.
Go very gentle! See how that goes.
I do reverse butterfly regularly in gym for this problem.
Will it help? And how much time it will be taking to cure completely
I m 18 n have this hump since last 1 and half years. I am doing the exercises n it has relieved. I want to know if i do this thrice a day for some months or more.. Will i get rid of it completely? I want to start modelling for fashion designing later this year. Please reply
It is possible to fix it completely. But it will require time and consistency!
Hi mark! ive had this dowagers hump for 5 years now and im 14 and there is fat around my neck too and ive noticed it has gotten bigger, im really insecure bout it so if i do all these exercises regularly then will the hump and the fat go away?
If your bump is due to the tight muscles/joints in the area and it is not fused, then you should be able to improve it for sure!
what if its fused? will it never be improved?
It is 100% fused, then there may be some limits to how far it will improve.
HI Mark, Thanks for the Article. It is well described and very informative. I have dowager’s hump since years. I am 32 now and mother of 6 month old. Recently, I am experiencing some pain in my neck while O breastfeed. And so I search about bad posture etc. And I come to know that this is called dowager hump and can be cured. I have this since I was 17 and increased gradually as I am software developer sitting 8 hours in the same position. So, can it be cure? As I hate it. And if it is fused? Then how we come to know that it is fused now and cannot ve threaten? I am so hopeful after reading this article. Thank you.
Hi Mark, I have a problem where instead of going forward, my neck goes off to the right side. Will doing these exercises and streaches still help me as they are or should I adjust them to try andwork the left side of my neck?
This is called a head tilt and is different from a Dowager’s hump.
Head tilts usually arise from tilts/rotations through your whole body. I’ll make a post on this for you one day :)
HI Mark, Thanks for the Article. It is well described and very informative. I have dowager’s hump since years. I am 32 now and mother of 6 month old. Recently, I am experiencing some pain in my neck while O breastfeed. And so I search about bad posture etc. And I come to know that this is called dowager hump and can be cured. I have this since I was 17 and increased gradually as I am software developer sitting 8 hours in the same position. So, can it be cure? As I hate it. And if it is fused? Then how we come to know that it is fused now and cannot ve threaten? I am so hopeful after reading this article. Thank you.
HI Mark, Thanks for the Article. It is well described and very informative. I have dowager’s hump since years. I am 32 now and mother of 6 month old. Recently, I am experiencing some pain in my neck while O breastfeed. And so I search about bad posture etc. And I come to know that this is called dowager hump and can be cured. I have this since I was 17 and increased gradually as I am software developer sitting 8 hours in the same position. So, can it be cure? As I hate it. And if it is fused? Then how we come to know that it is fused now and cannot ve threaten? I am so hopeful after reading this article. Thank you.
I saw your facebook message to me but I’ll answer you here as well as it may help someone else.
The best way I know to tell if you are fused is the lack of improvement over a time whilst doing these exercises.
You can get scans which can imply that they are fused, but can often be misleading.
Great advice here, thank you. I was just wondering, as I work on a computer all day, would a kneeling chair help with my posture? I find myself getting lazy with my posture throughout the day and don’t realize how bad my posture has become until I sit up straight.
Kneeling chairs are awesome! (I’m actually sitting on one now)
.. But be careful! You can also slouch on these if you are not careful.
Great site Mark. It looks like you’ve done your homework. Great pics and easy to understand instructions. Kudos to you.
Great comment, Liz!
Thanks for taking the time to write it :)
I’ve noticed a rather small hump forming on the back of my neck and I hope this will help reverse it but I noticed that a lot of the stretched on here are the same as on your forward head posture post. Will doing the forward head posture stretches have any significant effect on progress? Thanks for these by the way they are rather helpful :)
I have yet to meet someone with a bump at the base of the neck WITHOUT a forward head posture.
They tend to go hand-in-hand.
I am 25 yrs old and I’ve just noticed a small hump at the base of my neck can I at my age be able to rid myself of it?
I am more inclined to say yes! But you won’t know until you start trying out the exercises :)
Hi Charlie, I’m 26 and have cervical stenosis, two slightly herniated t5-t6-t7 discs, hypermobile vertebrae and lumbar compression. It’s been a living nightmare for a year and a half. I found this site a couple weeks ago and have been targeting my neck hump/”nerd neck” and anterior pelvic tilt. It’s AMAZING. Even if the hump doesn’t entirely go away, the symptom relief from stretching the contracted muscles and targeting the tightness will help prevent nerve impingement and other suffering-inducing stuff later. If you’ve ever had a tooth smashed out of your mouth, that’s what my neck has felt like for 6 months, from base to scalp, all day, every day. Earlier today I noticed something amazing…I wasn’t paying attention to my neck! Three days after starting this neck regimen! Walking 5-8 miles a day in proper posture really seems to cement the correct holding pattern for me. Otherwise I return to the nonsense.
There are a few awesome youtube channels for demonstrating these techniques in a way that better visualizes Mark’s well-written instructions vs. pictures if you’re a visual learner like me. Please be careful, playing too far with your neck’s range of motion is a REALLY bad idea! Before I knew I had such rounded shoulders (about a year ago) I hyperextended it backwards, felt a pop and momentarily lost most of the feeling in my right side. Fortunately traction/manipulation from my PT sorted it out and later MRI didn’t show any additional damage.
Thanks for the info! You and a couple other online PTs/experts might have saved my life from a nasty spiral.
What size is the massage ball under your head?
And is that the only equipment you’d recommend for these exercises?
It is 80mm diameter.
You can use whatever works for you though.
I can’t believe so many people have the same problem. I am 73 and have had very large hump, forward head, rounded shoulders and severe neck pain for decades. Can anything help me now.
Hi Katie Rose,
Unfortunately – the longer you have had this hump, the more likely the joints have fused together.
But… It is never too late to start these exercises!
In most situations, there is always something to improve upon. At very least – you will prevent it from getting worse.
I’ve had a Dowagers hump for a few years now (that I can think of). This article has been so helpful just wanted to say thanks for the detail you put into it. If I start doing these exercises now are the chances of the hump going away/being reduced possible as I absolutely hate it :(
Thanks for your comment.
These exercises should be able to help reduce/improve your Dowagers, for sure!
At very, very least, it will help prevent it from getting worse.
I have had dowagers hump, and scheuermann’s kyphosis since the age of nine, or so. My younger sister also has it. It started out with swayback, then our conditions worsened. It makes you lose height, and makes makes you appear elderly. It is a horrible disease, in, and of, itself. We look like the hunchback of Notre Dame. The chiropractors were shocked when they checked me out, and there is nothing I can do about it.
Would training to do pull ups and chin up help? I just developed this this week.
Pull/chin ups are fine to do… but keep your neck as relaxed as possible. Think of keeping your chin ever so slightly downwards towards your upper chest if anything.
I’m just starting to do the exercises. I’m wondering as I’m sitting down, standing up, or walking around, do I need to try to keep my chin tucked and bring my shoulders down and back? Or should I just try to relax and not worry about having an upright posture right now since I’d be forcing it a little?
Try to keep a GENTLE contraction of the movements you have described.
You never want to force your jam your posture back into place.
Hi Mark. I have had a big hump on my back for 4 years now ever since falling pregnant. My breast are really big and my posture is so bad. I feel very ugly! And fat, I also have a fat neck and face. I used to be so skinny and this just upsets me. What type of bra should I be wearing because I have very large breast. And they are no help at all! I’ve always had a sort of bad posture it just has gotten bad after having my son 3 years ago. And being pregnant for 9 months before having him..
The appropriate bra support is crucial as large breasts will tend to pull and drag your posture downwards.
Honestly – I do not know of any bra brands that specialise in optimising posture so you might need to talk to someone who does.
Also check out this post: Rounded shoulders. It should help you out with your dowager’s too.
Marls: You mentioned that you now have “a fat neck and face”. Sometimes these can be signs of a medical condition called Cushing’s Syndrome. If your neck and face didn’t always look this full, you may want to talk to your medical provider to see if further evaluation is appropriate.
Hey Mark, thanks for this article. I’m starting to develop a hump so will start these exercises. Do you have any braces or support items to help force the posture correction when sitting at a computer all day? Easy to forget you are slipping.. Where are you based also? Cheers.
Postural braces can help serve as a reminder to keep your shoulders back, but I wouldn’t recommend long term use of them.
They tend to make your postural muscles a bit lazy!
I’ve had a Dowager hump for as long as I can remember. And while it was never a painful thing as far as physical pain. However, the pain of looking at myself in the mirror and seeing it was embarrassing in itself. My dad, now a retired general surgeon, said that I’d be stuck with it the rest of my life. This gives me hope. I’ve started doing just the stretching while I’m sitting at work. And definitely, try to fix my posture whenever I feel like I’m rounding my shoulders and pushing my neck forward. I have noticed that I have dull pain in my upper back at times where my dowager hump is. But could that be due to the fact that it’s actually working itself out or could be a deeper problem than the dowager hum and my posture?
If you have pain on the actual bump, the joints in the area may be squashing each other.
This is common when you first start doing the neck retraction exercises.
Be gentle with the exercises and make sure that you are not jamming the movements.
Thanks Mark! Will lessen the stretch so I’m not overdoing it.
You prolly have adhesions in your traps those need to addressed too
Thank you so much, Mark. I have had this problem for over a decade now. This is the most helpful article I found. Thank again.
My pleasure, Indu!
These exercises look really good! I think I have dowagers hump as I never had a hump before until the last year and didn’t think I could do anything about it.
Can I do these exercises everyday or should I have a rest day inbetween? Also can you run/jog as well (read somewhere that you shouldn’t) ?
You can perform these exercises as much as you would like.
Running is fine. Just try to keep your chin slightly lowered to minimise the stress on the bump.
Hey Mark ! I’ve been suffering from this hump for as long as I can remember due to my bad study posture , I’ve been doing this exercises for 2 days now and I feel much less pain in my neck ! I think this is gonna work !! Thanks Mark
Awesome. Keep up the good work!
Hi. I have forward neck posture on the left side mainly. My neck and head both turn to the right most of the time, and my right goes back ok, but not the left. I have more rib flare on the left as well, and I have trouble breathing well. When I try to do the chin tucks etc. I feel as though I am cutting my air off on the left side, and I cannot figure out how to breathe well. If I keep doing the exercises, should this improve? And should I change any of the exercises due to more difficulty with the neck going forward on the left? Thank you!!
Hi Mark I have hypermobility syndrome which has lead to have hunched back posture I have loose ligaments would these exercises help even with having less ligament support
Yep! But you will need to place more emphasis on the strengthening aspect of these exercises.
This has by far been the most helpful thing I’ve found! Thank you so much for all of this information. Also, I had no idea that bras could play such a big role, what should one do if the weight is a little overwhelming? Is that something I should look into reduction surgery to really help? I’ve been considering it for a while anyways because of back pain but now I’m wondering if it would just help everything lol.
A supportive and correctly fitted bra is a MUST.
The next is to make sure you have the strength/endurance/control of the posture muscles around the shoulder blade to help manage the frontal weight.
Check out this post for that: How to fix ROUNDED SHOULDERS.
Reduction surgery would be last resort.
This is really overwhelming for me. I don’t know where to start. I have this neck hump but I want to better my posture in general. There are so many exercises and I don’t know if I should be doing them all or only a few. Also, I feel like I am doing them wrong. :/
There are heaps of exercises!
But the good news is that you DON’T have to do them all.
You can just start on stretches for the first few weeks… and then gradually add more as appropriate.
Hi Mark, my name is Jessica. After following your stretches and exercise my neck has more range of movement. I have had this hump on my neck for a long time due to bad posture, forward head, and rounded shoulders. These exercises helped with all of my bad habits! So thank you. I was wondering if cracking and popping of the neck is normal? I do have random cracking and popping nosie throughout each day, or when I’m just breathing sometimes. Is this normal when exercising?
Cracking/popping is likely due to the release of pressure within the joints.
If you are trying to correct your posture, this may actually be a good thing as there is a release of stiffness. (Just make sure that they are not painful or causing any other symptoms)
Even breathing can release these tight joints too!
My grandma always told me “Brittney sit up straight or you will get neck hump!!” ever since I was little, and I should have listened! Because now I’m 21, and pretty sure I have that Dowager hump, rounded shoulders, the works. Since I’m only 21, it probably won’t take thaaaat long to fix….right???
Anyway, I am a woman with large, heavy breasts and I think that has a lot to do with my posture. When I’m sitting in a chair, it’s just plain uncomfortable to sit up straight… but I really want to fix my problem. Is there anything I can do during the day that can help me fix my posture/sit normally while having mini bowling balls on my chest?
On top of doing the exercises mentioned on the post, make sure your bra is supporting the “mini bowling balls” (haha). Excessive weight at the front of your chest will naturally pull your shoulders down/forward which often will drag your head in a forwards direction as well.
Check this post out: Rounded shoulders
And this: How to sit properly
ps. You should always listen to your grandma.
Hey! I’m excited to try this stuff. I wanted to let you know that I think your exercises are being plagiarized here: belmarrahealth
(Yours is 1000x better because of all the pictures). Thanks for posting such a detailed article!
Thanks for looking out for me.
I have noticed that particular website has copied several of my posts. I have contacted them to at least include me in their reference, but have been ignored.
It’s all good though! It just means my content must be good :)
HAVE A GREAT DAY!
Hi Mark ,
Thanks lot for the post.
Is there any exercise at gym for Sway back postu
I have a full blog post on this :)
Check it out: How to fix Sway back posture.
Hi Mark ,
Thanks lot for the post.
Is there any exercise at gym for Sway back posture ?
Hi Mark !
Thanks lot for the article. it took me almost four years to realise what problem I have been dealing with . I was a fitness freak and due to the poor posture I lost my confidence .When I was came to know I am suffering with sway back posture , I broken down. Now am following your exercise , am getting better and regaining my confidence .
I wanted to go to gym . Is there any way to improve posture exercise (specially for sway back
)at gym ?
Can you just share the exercise ?
I am a 28 year old (medically) retired veteran. I retired due to PTSD and a TBI. This past year I had to have a laminectomy on my L5/S1 which significantly improved the sciatica I dealt with for years. Unfortunately I still live in a lot of pain. I have had MRIs on my neck and shoulder. (I experience constant unrelenting neck & shoulder pain that radiates into my shoulder blad and into my elbow and hand) it showed I have osteoarthritis and bone spurs in my shoulder and two bulging discs and bone spurs in my C3/4 area. I’ve had epidurals and all kinds of treatment that has provided little to no relief. Could correcting my posture and doing these exercises help with the bone spurs and possibly prevent any future surgeries?
Also I started a new Office job. Do you have any recommendations for products to buy that can help to correct posture and prevent such terrible pain? I cannot buy my own chair but if there are any seat cushions or braces you’d recommend I’m willing to try anything. I was also looking into buying a water based pillow. Is that something you’d recommend?
Thanks for your questions.
Could correcting my posture and doing these exercises help with the bone spurs and possibly prevent any future surgeries?
Once bone spurs form, they are can only be removed surgically. However- the presence of spurs does NOT necessarily mean it is contributing to your symptoms.
Correcting posture will place your joints in a more efficient position which may reduce/slow down further degenerative changes. This in itself could prevent future surgeries.
Do you have any recommendations for products to buy that can help to correct posture and prevent such terrible pain?
– Make sure you set up your work station properly. You can check out my free ebook for that :)
– Aim to move around as much you as your work will allow. Try not to sit in the one place for more than 30 minutes. (Even if it means you stand up for 5 seconds and sit back down again)
– You can use postural braces but they will make your postural muscles weak and lazy in the long term.
I was also looking into buying a water based pillow. Is that something you’d recommend?
I have not used a water pillow before so I’m not too sure about it!
Hello , I had cerival spine my doctor say not normal last year til 2 month ago i started feel bump on my neck will i do start excrise again and will get better again?
These exercise will help you! (At very least – prevent your condition from getting worse)
Hello mark sir.
Sir i have pain in my lower back since few years. I m 22 now. Pain was due to more weight deadlift in gym. I m underweight right now 60 kg nd 178 cm. Please help me with my back pain. I’llbe really thankful to u
Great article, it is very helpful!
I have a question about which kind of pillow ans especially how to place my pillow when I sleep on my back. Is it important for the pillow to be under my head and neck rather than just my head? And should my pillow also be under my shoulders? I feel like if my pillow is just under my head and neck it makes my neck bend. I guess i’m wondering if when I sleep on my back my shin should be tilted down or if it should be up.
Where you place your pillow in relation to your head/neck/shoulders/upper back is really dependent on what your posture looks like.
The more forward displacement of your posture is, the more support you will require from the pillow and the lower you should place the pillow) as you lie on your back.
Check out these posture types if you have any forward displacement:
Forward head posture
In the ideal world, where everyone has perfect posture, people will not really need to use any pillows for support.
Love article! Thank u so much! My hump is bad I’m 31yrs and have always struggled w my posture . I get migraines and lots of tension in neck and shoulders specifically my right side. One of my biggest problems is when I sleep I go to bed laying down but end up sitting up and slumping over for hours and have no control over this. I literally look like I’m sitting up stretching for my toes and then stay that way until I wake up or someone wakes me to lay back down! So wondering if a nice neck pillow might keep me down longer if it really comfortable..? What types of pillows do u recommend?
Hello Mark,i am a 19 y.o girl having this problem-Dowager’s hump,i am living with this condition for like 2 years maybe and it is absolutely tiring and painful,i am diagnosed with forward head posture and my neck it’s always stiff and hurting escpecially the pain is bigger on the left part of the neck and it expands down my shoulder and even my left arm sometimes,so my question is if i be doing all the exercises you have showed on here,how long it will take to recover considering that i’ve been living with this for 2 years and even more?thank you very much in advance and for the helpful exercises you post here :)
p.s i am sorry if i have any mistakes english is not my native language :)
It will take as long as it will take. It is even very hard to give you a range.
I have been doing these exercises everyday, as well as sleeping on my back and standing against a wall at random times throughout the day. Will update in a few months with my results, but I’m feeling very confident I can fix my posture. My question is, after sleeping on my back all night, I wake up and my head is forward as hell when I check in the mirror, and the back of my neck is sore. Is that a good thing or am I doing something wrong?
First thing I would check is to make sure you have adequate support from your pillow.
If you are not used to sleeping on your back, this can cause your neck to poke forward if you don’t have a good pillow.
Any updates Dylan?
Thanks for the great article and tips. It’s heartening to see there is a fix to this and that it appears to be a relatively common issue.
My question is whether you recommend that Pilates and/or yoga might also help with this specific issue? Knowing myself I am probably more likely to keep up a routine with a class rather rely on self motivation at home ! Thank you once again.
I love pilates and yoga, however, it is not very specific to addressing this issue.
I am 28 and have noticed a Dowagers hump forming for the past few years. I read all about the forward head posture on your website and quickly realized that this is my problem! My New Year’s resolution is to fix my posture! I am excited to also try these exercises to help reverse my hump- how often do you recommend doing this whole routine? Daily?
Thank you for sharing your expertise!
Several times throughout the day is EVEN better!
Thank you so much for this article!!
I’m 54 years old & have had a dowager’s hump for as long as I can remember :(
I am planning on doing your suggested exercises daily, as well as set up my workstation better.
I also wondered: do you think purchasing a cervical traction device (like the Saunder’s Traction Device) would be a good investment?
I know it is very expensive, but thought I might need to”pull out the big guns” to address this issue as it is so long-standing (or perhaps I should say “long-hunching” LOL).
Thank you so much for your time and advice…Here’s to Better Posture in the New Year :)
I am not too familiar with the Saunder’s traction device. But it looks like that will help stretch out your joints.
Gentle traction (of the appropriate intensity) to the neck joints is a great way to address your neck tightness. This will help the above exercises to be move effective.
I’ve been doing the exercises in this video for a while – will this correct my dowager’s hump?
Yes – this exercise will help address your neck bump by addressing your overall posture.
Hi Mark. I had Systemic MRSA 12 years ago and it took 10 months of multiple antibiotics to get it cleared out. During that time I had swelling at the back of my neck. The pain started about 6 months into my treatment and I ended up with cervical fusions from C4-C7. Then I had severe post lamenectomy syndrome causing terrible pain. Now the disc above my fusion is about gone. I am still under the care of a neurosurgeon with regular MRI’s and x-rays. I am on a lot of medication for the pain. I do have a lump at C7. I am trying so hard to get off medication. Would these exercises be for me? I know that a lot of my pain is from weak muscles in my neck, chest, and upper back. Because of all of my surgeries, I wore a soft cervical collar for 4 years. I am seeing a therapist that does ROELSMETHOD and he works a lot on my SCM’s and many other muscles. It really helps me a lot but I do have to pay for it. I have tried EVERYTHING over the past 12 years to help with the pain and ROELSMETHOD is the only thing that has helped me. I was thinking that if your exercise plan would be safe for me, I can supplement the ROELSMETHOD with it. Also, I know exercise helps to manage stress. Do you think your exercises are safe for me? Also, what is the best head position for me during sleep?
These exercises should be fine for you to do. (Make sure there is no pain or discomfort as you do it.)
Since you have had fusion surgery in the past, there is not too much we can do about getting those fixated C4/7 to move again.
The focus would be to optimise the other joints and surrounding muscles to help support your head.
If in doubt – check with a health professional.
I have a hump on my neck which is giving me neck pain when i sit in front of the screen for long hours, also the appearance of the hump is depressing me.
I have this for over 5 years. Is there any chance for me to get rid off it totally with exercises, and have a fully straight neck.
These exercises and fixing your posture are going to be the best things you could do for it to give it the best chance to resolve.
Hi! I am on the overweight side and wondering how much that factors into my hump? Would these exercises still help as much?
Being over weight generally means more weight that is pulling your posture forwards/downwards.
Larger breasts may also contribute to this issue.
This is by far the best article and guide I have read on this topic. I am a nurse and crafter and have the hump. Would using a posture brace in conjunction with these exercises be a good idea. I’m round shoulder and after a 12 hour shift throwing my shoulders back is not always second nature just yet. Any recommendations? Thank you!
Thanks for the nice comment!
Posture braces are OK in the short term. But I would not rely on it more than 1-2 hours.
They will tend to make your postural muscles lazy and most likely weaker.
I just noticed a lump on my neck today. I’m 19 and in good shape. However I do have bad posture. If I just improve my posture, will that help the hump go away? Or do I need to incorporate exercises and stretches as well? Also how long until it goes away, few weeks, months, years?
You should specifically do these exercise as well as fix your posture if it is the cause of your issues.
I can’t give you an exact time frame in terms of how long it’ll take. It’s different for everyone.
I’m just 25 n i noticed this jump in my neck 2 years ago.. how much time it would take to correct it through this exercise.?
It’s different for everyone!
But I can tell you that the longer you wait to do anything about, the harder it will be to address it.
I’m just 25 n i am very scared to notice this hump in my neck since from 2 years.. how long will it take it to correct..
I am starting this series of exercises for Dowager’s Hump. Question about the massage ball: should I position it between the x’s so it is under my occipital, then turn my head from “side to side?” If I try to “roll,” the ball slides out from under my head.
I’m 48 & after over 20 years of sewing and crafting, I have The Hump!
You are aiming for these muscles per side.
You can gently circle the weight of your head over the ball if you find it keeps sliding from underneath you.
I’ve had a bump on my neck for quite a few years, maybe around six or so. I’m 16 now and it has really started to bother me. I was wondering if my spine would go back to normal after so much time if I do these exercises daily?
Given your age, now is the best time to start doing the exercises.
General rule : The longer you have a postural distortion the longer it is going to take to improve.
If your bump is due to posture, these exercises will surely help!
When you speak of fused bones could you please specify which vertebrae numbers or range of vertebrae you are speaking of. Thanks.
Generally – C67T1
You said this could help if your bones were not already fused. The larger bones at the base of my neck and from there down in the trap area are very stiff. It is hard to feel they move when I exert effort. Are these the bones you spoke of? How can you tell if bones are fused and at what age does that generally begin? Thank you.
I am 66 and are the bones in my dosage hump now fused?
HI Mark!! you are great!
Just wanted to know if you have any youtube videos, it would be very helpful:)
Also can you clarify how to release the muscles in the beginning, any youtube link would be helpful:)
Thanks! You are great too.
I don’t have any videos atm!
Thanks for a terrific set of exercises to correct forward head and maybe prevent humping.
I was particularly amused, as a retired belly dancer, to see the excellent side head move (that takes a lot of work to do well!).
However, as a former osteologist, I think the term”Dowager’s Hump” should be reserved for real osteoporotic kyphosis, and not inflated to include bad posture in 14 year olds! Until there are (permanent) bone changes, it’s not a Dowager’s Hump, it’s just forward head syndrome caused by bad posture.
Thanks for the input, Ellen.
How long has your patients with hunchback taken for correcting their posture .? I have too and planning to start working from tomorrow morning with exercise given by you… i will let u know how it went :)
If it is due to tight joints in the spine, it can take some time as it has likely taken awhile to develop in the first place.
Can Dowagers Hump also cause tennis elbow. I’ve had tennis elbow before and it took almost 9 months to heal. It’s now come back…worse on my left side, although I’m right handed. I also have a very crunchy neck. I do yoga and try to stretch daily. Icing isn’t enough to repair the elbow. I feel like it’s neck related.
This is a very good question!
Without optimal neck position/movement, your shoulder, arm, elbow and hand can not function as efficiently as it should.
This can result in over activity of your forearm extensors (aka tennis elbow).
The picture above shows the superficial back arm line. This is how the neck is connected to your elbow.
Thank you so much for this information. I am 27 and have had bad posture since middle school. Over the last couple of years I have noticed that I have a dowager’s hump and it is very unattractive. I was afraid there was no way to work on it, but seeing this site makes me hopeful.
Thanks for the message, Taylor!
Hi, I am a ballet student. I had to take a break due to a hip injury and didn’t really worry about my posture. I have a minimal hump now. My question is, if I walk around at home in a chin tuck, head slightly tilted forward so that back of my neck is fully stretched, would that be beneficial? Or is that a wrong head position too? Also my neck is uneven, one side is straighter then the other, should I do the exercises differently? Thank you for your time!
You don’t want to walk around with your chin jammed in. It might be good as a mobility exercise, but it not what I would consider a good posture for the neck.
Aim to keep your neck as lengthened as possible in a relaxed manner.
An asymmetrical neck presentation could be due to many reasons. So what you do to address this will really depend on what’s causing it.
What do you think of the posture corrector Lumo lift? I’ve been thinking of getting one of these to help correct my posture.
I have not personally tried it out myself, but it sounds like it will serve as a good constant reminder to maintain a more up right posture.
Just remember, it’s all about movement! So on top of maintaining great posture, try to move around, do some stretches, avoid prolonged positions!
I use this and actually love it. However, after a long day wearing it and constantly being reminded to sit up straighter, taking it off feels amazing.
Can you just get surgery to remove that hump!?
You can get surgery to remove the fat around the area.
This will reduce the overall size of the hump… however, it will not address the curved nature of your joints.
Would using Dr. Ho’s electric stimuli placed on the hump also be of help? Would this dowagers hump also cause pressure in the cheek and nose, headaches and blurred vision?
I have never personally used Dr Ho’s products, but from what I know of electrical stimulus, it will help with short term symptomatic relief.
Since the neck bump affects how the rest of the neck and head are positioned, it can lead to an sub-optimal neck/head posture which in turn can lead to the said symptoms. (But if you ever in doubt, please see your doctor)
Thank you this gives me hope. I am 27 and I notice this bump starting maybe some 5/8 years ago. Do you think it might be too mate for me to correct it?
Never too late to start doing these exercises. It always too late to wait any more!
Would a posture corrector brace help with a dowagers hump? Thank you!
I have yet to find a postural brace that helps with this condition…. so I generally steer people away from them.
Can you do these exercises even if you have postural kyphosis? Do you have suggestions on correcting kyphosis for a 19 year old female?
Check out this post:
How to fix hunchback posture.
You can do these exercises if you have thoracic hyperkyphosis.
I am 14 year old and I weight 68kg less/more I guess. I have a hump dowagers hump and the fat too some people call it “buffalo hump” and ive noticed that it has gotten big the buffalo hump and I was wondering if it will dissappear as I loose weight? and yeah did this hump appear cuz im fat?
If your hump is due to having a forward head posture, addressing this alignment should help.
I am 16 year old and have the same kind of problem hedda has.
Can you recommend some exercises to address the alignment?
All the exercises mentioned on the blog post will be great for you!
Could the development of this protrusion be caused by torticollis as a baby? If so, would these treatments still be useful? 34 yr old female.
It definitely could be a factor.
I would still recommend these same exercises though.
Can loosing weight help in reducing the dowager’s hump and that fat?
I am not sure if I have dowager’s hump or just c7 vertebra prominence? Could I send you my x-ray image via email please and you would take a look and tell me what of that it is?
I would be very gratefull, sorry for my english :) and thank you very much.
Feel free to contact me on the Facebook page, Daniel.
Hi, lot of comments. Did somebody else ask the best way to sleep to not worsen this. Not just reading in bed but best sleeping position, pillow, mattress type-firm?
As long as your chin is not poking forward and the neck is not kinked backwards (which is commonly seen with the use of too many pillows), you can sleep in any position.
If you are a back sleeper, try to imagine the curve of your neck flattening out towards the pillow/bed. This will encourage your chin to tuck towards your chest slightly.
Tried your exercises
Can’t believe how much posture influences how one feels
I feel crappy a lot and until I searched about the neck bump did I realize my posture was the problem
Black and white difference
Great info thank you
I didn’t even know my posture was wrong at all let alone way wrong!
can you use a spiky ball to releease neck muscles?
That is perfectly fine.
Hello – thanks for all of this information. I am 58 years old -female and have always had good posture. About 12 months ago, I woke up one morning, got up to get out of bed and my neck made an awful grating noise.The pain was bad and stayed like that all day. Since then the grating noise and pain hasn’t been too bad but about 3 months ago, I was rubbing the back of my neck and felt the bone at c7 sticking out and since then, the tissue around it seems a bit inflamed. I am not quite sure what this is but I can see a bump from the side view of my neck. I worked on a computer for 11 years and wonder if this has had something to do with my neck problem. Thank you.
It is normal to have a more prominent C7 bone in the back of your neck.
Sustained postures in front of the computer with a forward head posture can make this prominence more noticeable.
Hi Mark – thank you so much for your reply. I am just worried that this issue might get worse. I do always try to sit up straight on chairs and stand straight wherever possible. SAM
Really struggling with head slides. Are there any alternatives I could to that have the same effect?
You probably don’t have the mobility in your neck joints/muscles to do it yet.
Just focus on the other exercises first and it will get easier.
Definitely will try this. I didn’t have this issue until a couple of years ago. I am now 33 years old. It bothers me how it looks. Thanks for the exercises!
Thanks for leaving a comment, Michelle.
Apologies if this is a repeat question – how long should this whole routine take? Is there an abbreviated version to begin with? Thank you!
In the beginning, I recommend doing all of them to see how you respond to the exercises. This could take 20 minutes or so.
If you can not dedicate that much time to exercises, you can start to only focus on certain exercises that you feel give you the most benefit.
Unfortunately – There is no set abbreviated version. No short cuts! :)
I m 37 and weight proportionate.For 3 months Ive had a left rotated c7 vertebrae in my neck which causes a new bump and Ive had minor scoliosis since adolecense.I feel my injury was caused by staring down at the computer too long. As a result of my cervicle rotation my sympathetic nerve system behind the nape of my neck has felt inflammed.The pain from the nerves go on for days but get worse feeling if I do excercises given to me from my chiropractor, agitating them more.Is it safe to continue doing excercises that cause further nerve pain or do you feel my situation is more complex and will need further review from a neurologist before safely doing a program?Im just unsure if it can cause further nerve damage being rotated.Thank you for any help
If you are ever in doubt, you should be assessed by a health professional in person. You don’t want to make it worse by doing the wrong thing! (Esp. when you are dealing with nerve issues)
I would say you should be fine to do these exercises, but avoid ANY exercise that causes your arm symptoms to worsen. There is no point persisting with it if it just makes it worse.
I am 26 years old and I’ve had this for 6 months now due to sedentary lifestyle and developed forward head posture and bump on my neck. I am doing everything to get rid of it by sitting in the right posture and also doing these exercises. My question is will I ever get rid of this or by doing these exercises I can just prevent it from growing?
If you have only had it for 6 months, there is a better chance of it reducing in size.
These exercises with postural correction will prevent it from getting worse as well.
I am a 20 year old student. I was wondering how do you know if the Dowagers Hump is permanent?
I am not sure if there is a 100% way to determine if your hump on your neck is permanent, but the way I go about is…
If you have persisted with these exercises and address your posture issues consistently over a long period of time, and there is no improvement at all.. Then it may be fused in that position.
Hope this helps!
Hi I’m 17 !i was just wondering how long it would take to get rid of the dowagers hump if I follow the above mentioned exercises?
It is different for everyone! But you have age on your side, so use it to your advantage :)
Hi Mark, thanks for all your responses. I’ve recently had the Lipo on my hump and I’m 30 yrs old. Also, i have scoliosis. Can I do these exercises to prevent from coming back?
If there is a normal amount of force going through that area and your muscles are strong enough to handle that amount of stress, it is likely that it will not come back.
Thank you SOOOOO much for this post! I tried to read through to comments to make sure you didn’t address this question already.
What are your thoughts for someone who weight lifts? Despite proper form on my deadlifts and squats, I always feel pain in my lower back. Could my bump be impacting that? Is it because of how I have to rest the bar on my back during squats due to having this ugly hump?
Thank you again for your post and your response to this!
If technique has been already addressed, then bar placement in your squat would be something I would definitely look into.
Do you have a high or low placement? Bar placement is one of the factors determining how far your torso has to lean forward as you hit the depth of your squat. The more forward you lean, the more pressure you will be placing your back.
Which then leads me to the dead lift position… Try to keep your core braced (think “ribs down”) and keep bar as close to your body as possible.
Hi, thank you so much for These exercises! Do they all have to be done in one go? Or can you split them up throughout the day? What will have the most impact??
There is no set way to do them.
You can split them up throughout the day if you would like.
Play around with how often you do them and see how you respond to it.
Hi there, really helpful info. I am 33 and I have had 2 children in the past 2 years. I’ve started to notice this hump. Has it possibly been made worse by pregnancy and if so could it slightly self resolve of its own accord now that I’m no longer pregnant?
With extra weight being carried in front of you during the pregnancy, this may have pulled your whole upper posture forwards/downwards.
As a response, your body would have had to kinked your neck upwards to keep your eyes at a horizontal level. This may have worsened the hump!
It may resolve to an extent, but as you’ve had this posture for 2 years or so, the structures around this area may be tight and/or weak and will require some exercises to rectify it.
Is there anything else that will help improve my dowagers bump? Will sleeping without a pillow help? I am desperate it looks really weird.
If you have a bump at the base your neck and you don’t use a pillow, it will cause your neck to kink backwards into extension.
This could cause more issues!
Are you familiar with the posture correction device called Posture Pump? They claim that this helps correcting the forward head position and a dowagers hump. What do you think?
I just googled posture pump.
It looks like some sort of neck traction device.
Traction is good, however, it is not enough to do it by itself. You will need to do the exercises to maintain a neutral head position too.
I have a dowagers hump and I also suffer from lordosis..are there any type of excercises that are good for both?
Here is a post on hyperlordosis: How to fix your Hyperlordosis (arched back)
Whenever I go to a hair salon and my head/neck if tilted back shampooing – it seems the night of or thereafter I get migraine with motion sickness – could this be part of Dowager’s Hump which I do have a slight bump – WHENEVER my head is tilted back the same thing happens- does this sound like pinched nerve and if so, what does one do about that- when rotating my neck around there is a whole lot of “snap, crackle popping” going on
It is likely that you are squashing all of your structures (eg. muscles, joints, nerves) at the back of your upper neck.
It is similar to the injury (although not as intense) you get with whiplash when you are in a car accident.
My mother, sister and I all have this hump. It’s very uncomfortable. I know that I have forward head posture and a weak core. Even when I lay down, my neck pushes my head forward. I’ve wanted to ask for a professional’s help, but I’m not sure who to go to. My primary physician was of little help. Who should I go to, a physical therapist (is physiotherapy the same thing as PT)??
Also, thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge on the subject! It’s greatly appreciated!
Physiotherapist is the same as a Physical therapist.
I would definitely go visit one so that they can assess your properly.
For the exercise with the massage ball, would a tennis ball work instead?
It is fine with a tennis ball.
you stated, “If your joints have already fused together, it is unlikely that they can “un-fuse”. ”
How do you know if they have fused? If they have what can you do then? Are you just out of luck?
If you have been persistent with these exercises over a long period of time and you have been doing them correctly, and there has been no change at all, then it may imply that your joints are fused.
An once they become fused there is no fix? I just started doing them and I saw a chiropractor due to a very tight chest and neck. Though I have noticed this issue for a while and saw a few different types of Dr but everyone was like there isn’t anything we can do. This included a two general practitioner, and a DR I saw for a pinched never in my neck. Is twice a day too much? I was thinking once in the morning and once in the evening.
I haven’t personally seen anyone improve it once it has been fused. :(
2/day is a good place to start.
See how your body responds, and adjust as needed.
Thank you for this insight Im looking forward to working on this. Do you mind if I share a link to your page on my blog ?
Feel free to share it :)
What’s the url?
Hey! Thank you so much for this post! It was super helpful!!
I’m only 19 years old and have noticed the hump since I was around 15, I find it really unattractive when tying my hair up and although my poster has improved over the years, I still feel like I look hunched with the hump.
I know that I can have it fixed by going through your exercises, its just a matter of motivation. I also noticed that I constantly keep my head slightly slouched forward while my shoulders are straight, especially when studying or sitting in class. Sometimes when Im laying down or sitting on the couch I find myself getting self conscious about it and trying to stay uncomfortably straight.
What has the most major impact on the hump that I should focus on the most? And how long do you think the average time for getting the upper backbone aligned is? I have never felt any pain on the back and the hump is average sized.
If the rest of your posture is fine, then I would just stick to these exercises on the post.
It’s hard to stay how long it will take, but definitely no over night fix :)
Mark, I have had surgery to fuse c3 and c4. Since then, this dowagers hump has grown to substantial size. Will these exercises work? If not, what are my options?
With fusion of your C3 and C4, you have basically lost the ability to move those joints now.
This may have made your Dowager’s hump bigger.
The exercises will still help though! They just won’t move your C3/4 joint unfortunately!
How does this work for ladies with large breasts with all that added weight? Is it possible for them to have normal posture like ladies with small breasts without all that added weight pulling them forward?
With women with large breasts, they will require:
a) even stronger postural muscles to resist the forward pull of the breasts,
b) a greater need to pay attention to the bra support and
c) to be aware of any habitual slouching as a result of attempts to “hide the breasts”.
There is no reason why someone with larger breasts can not have good posture. (On top of postural exercises, they will just need to address the extra 3 points as stated above)
can weak core lead to worsening of dowagers hump? I spent a year on the couch (chemo) and have weak core.. I sleep on my side and find that as I’m falling asleep I can feel my whole body/back shift forward and put pressure on my neck. I sleep with a small pillow under my arm to try and prop myself more neutral, and a flat pillow under my neck rather than under my head to keep my neck straight rather than angled. I just started doing your exercises last night.. will they also help with core at all or should I do those separate? thanks.
Your body acts as one synergistic unit.
Meaning – one shift can influence the whole body.
The said exercises are mainly targeting the neck itself and not the core.
If you would like some more core exercises, have a look at this page here.
I am feeling pain and tingling in the Dowager’s Hump when attempting to keep my head back to improve my posture. Do I need to do the exercises before attempting to keep my head back?
Don’t force your head back unless your joints will allow you to naturally hold it back.
If you jam it back you can pinch nerves/joints and this can lead to the tingling and pain in that said area.
I would focus on the exercises first to help loosen up the area.
Let me know if that helps!
What role does osteoporosis of the spine play in terms of being a contributing factor in developing a dowagers hump? And does it affect the ability to reduce the hump through exercises such as what you have provided?
With osteoporsis, the bones are not as dense (strong) as they were previously.
As a result, the vertebra can get compressed at the front which causes the flexed alignment as seen in a Dowager’s hump.
Unfortunately – In people with Osteoporosis, there is not too much we can do to reverse this issue.
However – with the exercises, it may help slow down/stop the hump from becoming larger.
I feel much better thank you for posting this website!?
No worries, Bob!
I’ve had this issue but less noticeable since around 15. I’m now 30 and have two babies under two. Breastfeeding and pregnancy have made it so much worse. I’m addressing my posture for my diastasis as well. Can general posture improvement help this?
Yes – working on your posture will help with this problem.
But you also want to address it specifically too!
Hi, thank you so much for writing this as I think I have this condition but never knew it was a known condition, I just thought I was weird looking. Can I ask whether this could also be the cause of my constant tense jaw? I feel like I’m constantly clenching/tensing my jaw muscles and they won’t relax when in fact I’m not clenching them at all? I have this constant ache and my face never feels relaxed, if you know what I mean?
I fear your exercises won’t help me as I’ve had my hump for 10/15 yrs but I will try anyway and hope to recieve some relief, hopefully for my jaw too?
Your head/neck may be in a position where it is inefficiently moving your jaw.
A poked head could also encourage your lower jaw to protrude and open, which means your jaw muscles are constantly firing off to try to keep it closed.
As a result – the jaw can become chronically and constantly tense.
I have a twenty year old daughter who gained a lot of weight and has developed a dowagers hump over the last five years, is it now too late for her to be able to get rid of it by doing your excersizes ? We just realized what it was.
Hi Mark! If you do these exercises how long will it take to get ride of your hump? Really hope you replay back!
It’s really hard to tell how long it is going to take as everyone is different.
It depends on how severe it is, how long it has been, what the rest of your posture looks like, how consistent you are with the exercises etc.
However – I can tell you that it certainly isn’t an over night fix unfortunately.
Still waiting on your reply!
It’s there :)
Hey mark how often do i do these exersises? im 35 and have beginning of dowaggers hump also would u reccomend a posture brace for a hour a day or so?i have pretty bad posture thanx
At least 1/day.
But really – you should aim to do them as many times you can.
I am not a huge fan on posture braces, purely because people become dependent on them. It is better to keep catching yourself falling out of good posture, and re-correcting.
Why does fatty tissue develop at the hump and will that reverse as well?
Hi Mark. I noticed a month or so ago that I have a hump in the back of my neck. I went to my doctor who checked me for Cushings disease. I do not have it so this must be a posture thing. He says there is nothing I can do for this but I run across your website today and tried your exercises. How do I know if I have fusion in my back? If I do have fusion will these exercises help? I got a posture brace so that I can feel when I am leaning forward too much at work. I do not depend on it except to let me know when I am leaning forward too much. I sit at a desk eight hours a day. Thank you.
If your joints are all fused together, then it is unlikely that the exercise will completely eliminate the bump.
Similarly, if you see absolutely no changes/improvements over a long period of time, then it is likely that the joints are fused.
They will certainly help, but there are going to be limitations to their impact.
How do I know if the joints are fused?
Sorry – I must not have been clear in my reply.
If you do not see any improvements at all with these exercises (providing that you are doing them correctly and at the right intensity), then it is likely that your joints are fused.
I am going to try all your exercises, though I find them a bit painful at this point. I have a slight straightening in my cervical vertebrae due to scoliosis in my neck and am wondering if it would benefit me to try a back brace to wear under my clothes or at my desk at work. Is there one you can suggest? Any help would be much appreciated!
This article gives me hope. I have all 3: forward head posture, rounded shoulders and back. I am going to do exercises for all 3 in hopes of fixing what small dowager’s hump I’ve started to develop and hopefully prevent it from getting worse in the future!
I am not a big fan of postural braces. (Only because people becomes way too dependent on it)
Focus on the exercises, be aware of your posture through out the day, and be consistent. You’ll get there!
I’m a 15 year old boy from Sweden and about a year ago I noticed I had this problem (didn’t know what it was called at the time) I didn’t think much about it as I didn’t cared about my look nor my posture. Now I know it was a bad decision, cause’ everyday I feel like everyone is looking at me for having this Dowager’s hump. But yesterday I finally said to myself, f**k it. I don’t wanna look this way and I’m going to do something about it. So I did some research and find your website. I’ve been scrolling threw almost all your posts today, and I really find them helpful. This afternoon I’m going to do your exercises for the first time (it won’t be the last) and start my journey to be the man I know I can be.
And I just wanted to let you know that your work is great and I hope that your exercises will help me :)
Thank you so much for writing this comment!
I really appreciate it! And congrats for making a commitment to your posture! You won’t regret it.
Could a dowagers neck be genetic?my grandma had it mom & sister. I am starting to feel a bump and I think its most likely because of my bad posture.Do you think if a dowagers neck is just now appearing and the bump is small can it go away?
There are some genetic factors that may predispose you to getting a bump at the base of the neck, but if it has just appeared (and it’s due to postural reasons), then I would say you have a good chance of managing it with exercises.
Wow! Great info! I will be incorporating this daily and working on my posture!! I hate the hump and it just started 1-2 years ago I think! Do you have any recommendations on sleep posture that would help?
I recommend sleeping on your back with a support/pillow that does not encourage you to jut your chin forwards (as this is essentially the Forward head posture and can ultimately make the Dowager worse)
If you can not sleep on your back, sleep on your side with your chin in a slightly tucked in position.
For more info on sleeping posture, check out this post.
Hey Mark, I’ve been doing these exercises and also deadlift but for my deadlift form my upper back seems to round. Is it because of my forward head? If I’m working out with back squats while having a forward head would it put more stress through my neck? Also my brother have R C curve scoliosis at his lumbar spine is it okay for him to deadlift and squat heavy weights? He’s severely underweight with kyphosis and forward head as well
If your back rounds when you dead lift (and if it is usually not rounded), then it is likely you are lacking extension strength in your thoracic region (upper back). Your forward head posture may contribute to this as well.
Try to keep your head as neutral as possible whilst you squat. Poking your head out will certainly cause some stress to the neck.
Your brother can continue to deadlift and squat, however, he should also try to neutralise is alignment with rehab exercises as well.
He can try this quadratus lumborum stretch to see if that helps him open up his Right side.
Thanks Mark! After having him try deadlift yesterday I found out that he cannot anterior pelvic tilt or keep his lumbar spine neutral, nor can he touch his toes. He has no mobility in his lumbar spine. I finally motivated him to start working out but after finding out that his lumbar mobility is limited I get kind of worried. Do you think it might be ankylosing spondylitis? Are there any alternative exercises for legs and lower back exercises you can recommend for him?
It’s hard for me to say if it is or isn’t Ankylosing Spondylitis. I would strongly recommend getting a scan if you would like to make sure.
If he does not have the mobility to perform an exercise properly, then he should either do partial reps, or try alternate exercises.
Perhaps your brother can start off with the some back stretches which you can have a quick look here.
Hi! Thanks for the info, very useful. I’ll start the exercises and send you some photos when i see progress, how do i know if my joints have been fused? Thank you!
The longer you have had this issue, the more likely it will fuse together.
If it is very stiff and is not responding to the exercises, you can get a therapist to mobilise the area to loosen it up.
Mark also I’m a little over weight so how could I loose my fat on my stomach or face?
There are many things you can do to help reduce your weight.
For example – going for a walk/run every day, playing sport, eating the right amount of calories.
It is best to speak to a nutritionist or a trainer regarding this matter.
Mark I’m a preteen me and my sister have a bump on our necks, we both go to school and have to sit in desks all day. Also we hunch our shoulders. I think my hump started in 2016/last year and it always annoys me, what would you recommed? Would laying straight on my back help it? Also I found this website today so I started the exercises. I do play on my phone a lot and other electronics so what’s the right position to sit? Also thank you for posting this blog!? Also happy late Easter ?
The best thing to do is to:
1. Do the exercises
2. Identify the activities (eg. using smart phone, watching tv, studying etc) that may have predisposed to this issue. Try to reduce exposure to them, or do them with better posture.
Happy late Easter to you too!
Do you have any before and after pictures of people who have done this? 20 and just noticed a dowagers hump in January ?
I don’t unfortunately.
Although – I would love if people could send in progress photos so that I can share them with everyone :)
Hello! I’ve recently noticed my dowagers hump within the last 3 years or so, and over time it has become more uncomfortable and stiff. Now that I know there’s things I can do (like these exercises) to help I will start doing those, but my main issue is my it makes it hard to sleep at times because it’s so uncomfortable, I was wondering if you knew of any medication that would help this? Or maybe any kind of special pillow? If there was anything you knew of that would help some of the stiffness, I’d really appreciate it. It’s very frustrating at times.
The presence of a bump at the base of your neck may make it difficult to sleep on your back as it pushes your head forward.
The best way to reduce your pain (apart from the exercises) is to reduce the amount your neck kinks backwards.
We can achieve this by:
1. Sleeping on your side. Ensure that there is good side neck support.
2. If on your back – Sleep with a slightly thicker pillow so that your neck doesn’t kink backwards. Make sure the pillow is not pushing on the bump.
In terms of medication, it is best to consult your GP for that one.
I am still on the look out for a good pillow to recommend to my patients. There are SO many out there, but SO many bad ones! I will let you know if I come across a good one.
I’ve had extremely bad posture from about the age of 9 up till now that I am 17.
Just wondering if my spine will go normal again because I had such bad forward head posture, that the bone at the top of my back, just below my neck is really protruding. Will these exercises fix that?
I think you are referring to the Dowager’s Hump.
I’ve written this post here for you!
The exercises are quite similar to the ones mentioned here.
I was referring to the hump on the neck from bad posture. Thanks!
Hi! Thank you for all this wonderful information! Will Chiropratic adjustments for 2 months 2 times a week actually help? Do you recommend continuing getting adjustments after the 2 month treatment or are the exerises more effective than adjustments? In your opinion will I feel like I always have to get adjusteds in the future to feel right? Thanks!
Adjustments to the junction between the neck and upper spine are great! (… if done safely and correctly)
Follow up the adjustments with exercises as this gives you a window of opportunity to make the most impact to your neck.
Each week the chiropractor should notice that it requires less amount of force to manipulate.
I am a 47 year old woman and noticed my dowager’s hump several years ago. Thankfully, I found your web page with all of the exercises to hopefully rid myself of said hump.
I have problems with my legs – they do not straighten out fully. Therefore I can not get down on the floor to do the exercises that are done lying on a hard surface (1. sub-occipital, 2. chin tuck with over pressure, 3. self neck traction, 4. chin tuck – lying down position). Can I do these against a wall, sitting up in a chair or should I just skip them and move to the next exercise?
Thanks again for your help for those of us with this problem.
Hi there Niki,
You can perform the said exercises with your knees bent.
If you still can’t get down to the floor, you can do the same exercises against a wall. (However, the traction will be a bit difficult.
Hi Mark, thank you for the great advice. I have a couple of questions if that’s ok? Firstly, I can see that my poke chin posture/dowagers hump is partly genetic as my mother and sister both have it, but I’ve recently noticed my 8 year old son also has poke chin posture. Is it safe to encourage him to do these exercises too? Secondly, I’m big busted and it feels like the weight of my bust rounds my shoulders forward, which doesn’t help my posture! Will the rounded shoulder exercises here help with that as well?
Hey there Ruth,
Your son can certainly do these exercises. I would also try to encourage proper posture when using the smart phone, tablet, reading, gameboy etc etc.
In regards to your rounded shoulders: With a bigger bust, appropriate bra support is essential. The second best thing will be to strengthen the postural muscles so that they are able to handle the forward pull.
I have arthritis in both thumbs and a dowagers hump. Do you think the two conditions could be related? Thanks for your advice I will start exercising immediately.
They may be linked from a combination of your posture and what activity you do all day.
Your posture is the starting position of how you move. If you don’t start in a good position, your movement will probably not be great.
People with a Dowager’s hump generally have Rounded shoulders. This will cause the arm to roll inwards and possibly placing your hand (and thus thumbs) in an inefficient position to function.
That is weird, I have the same name and problem as you! I have been exercising for some time now and I do think I am seeing improvement. I like to lie lengthways on a foam roller along the spine to allow the chest to open out and the shoulders to drop back.
Hi could you recommend a type of pillow for someone with this problem? I do a lot of reading in bed.
Using a Wedge pillow can help support your posture whilst in bed.
I have not personally used one for myself, but many of my patients seem to find it quite comfortable.
Can’t I just cut it out. I hate it so much plus it’s hereditary ???
You can’t, unfortunately :(
However – I have actually seen some surgeons cut out the actual fatty tissue around that area to make it look less obvious.
So, I’m currently 14 Years old now and I am still experiencing dorwagers hump for like a lot of years now. I feel so uncomfortable just people seeing my hump back like a weird ass alien demon or some shit. I also have this rounded shoulders. All of this because I sat in the computer for like everyday. It’s been really depressing and If only you can give me some tips on how to remove this fucking large ass bone on at the top of my spine? Thanks.
Although it will take time (together with patience and consistency), the exercises mentioned in the post are the best for you.
Fixing other postural issues such as Rounded shoulders will help with it too.
Is there a way to print the excercises out on 1 or 2 sheets of paper so I can do them away from the computer? Thanks so much for putting this info online
I don’t have a printable file for you, but now that you brought my attention to it, I will make a .pdf printable version for it soon :)
if i don’t have a massage ball will a tennis ball do?
It is fine.
But – a massage ball will always be more effective.
What is a “massage ball”? I’m going to order one online. Is it larger or smaller than tennis ball? Is there another name?
It is slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Much firmer. And made of a rubbery material.
I like to use Lacrosse balls.
Thanks so much, it will be very helpful. I’m so glad I found your site.
Hi again- just a few more questions from me! 1) Would you recommend doing these exercises daily or with what regiment? 2) Is there a way of knowing if your joints have fused? Thank you so much for this generous information and helpful website!!
I would do it every day. More the merrier, really.
In terms of joint fusion, it’s hard to say exactly without seeing you in person, but – the longer you have had the hump, the more likely it is fused.
Also – you are 21 which is a good sign!
If you were like 80, then that would be a different story. There is much hope for you :)
If you can’t completely eliminate your dowager’s hump, you can at least reduce the severity of it.
Hi there- I have hereditary anxiety which poorly affects my posture, so I’ve had this hump for a number of years (I would estimate five or six) -how long is too long/when do the “joints fuse”? Can I still at least lessen the appearance of my Dowager’s Hump if not correct it completely if this is the cass? Thanks!
I’m 21 by the way!
Hi. I am 30 years old and have had this hump at the base of my neck. Recently went to the gym after a few years of being inactive. I may have pulled something, the doctor thinks it was a tension migraine due to stress as well as my new upper body exercise and 11 years working dispatch. (Lots of sitting!) … I am looking forward to doing your exercises so that I may be able to realign my upper spine. Thank you so much!
Great to hear that you are doing more exercises!
Just make sure you keep your neck nice and relaxed as you perform your gym exercises.
You may have just strained your neck muscles.
I was wondering if you think massage therapy would be beneficial as well as doing these exercises?
I have two more questions that are not completely related. One… are there any exercises at the gym you would NOT recommend doing. Two… do you find the dowagers hump is becoming more prevalent in children today as they are on phones so much and in a bent forward position
All exercises are fine to do at the gym providing that you are not jutting your neck forward.
Be careful with exercises such as over head pressing, ab crunches and bench press (any exercise that may cause your neck muscle to over strain and poke forward)
It is true that children’s posture are getting worse with the increase use of smart phones.
In respect with Dowager’s hump, it seems to becoming more common in kids around the teen age stage.
Hi mark I just happened upon your article and it’s given me some hope. I didn’t think that there was a way to fix this bump on the base of my neck and I have gotten pretty uncomfortable with its appearance and how I feel when doing simple tasks like bending over. I was wondering if I should continue working out or if I should stop and fix my posture completely. I noticed this bump about a year ago btw.
I’m 22 years old in case that gives any needed insight
It’s fine to keep working out provided that you are not poking your head forward. Try to keep your neck elongated whilst performing all exercises.
But definitely – start doing these exercises everyday to help with your bump at the base of your neck.
I was wondering if you think massage therapy would be beneficial as well as doing these exercises?
Massage therapy will help release those tight muscles quicker!
hey i feel i have neck hump
first time i think it is as normal bones.. but I noticed the last few months grew up iam barber u think i can remove it or wat ? i want to restore it not muscles training..
You can improve it as long as your bones aren’t fused together in that area.
The exercises will help with the neck hump.
I am 65 and had this problem for years, I always thought that it was just a fact of getting older, my mother had it too. REcently my doctor sent me to a physical therapist and I was surprised to hear that something can be done about it. She also put tapes across my back and the swelling went down considerably, I did not even know there was any! I thought it was bone and fat. I will definitely do your exercises, thanks!
Let me know how it goes, Maria!
Hey Maria, do you mind my asking what tape your doctor used? KT tape or similar?
I am in the 60’s and have the hump for many years. No neck pain or migraines. What tape do you use? So glad to find this site!
I have a hump behind my neck as well. I am 28 years old and I have upper back pain in one area (not on the hump). I got an MRI done and the doctors told me I have a healthy spine and my pain may be due to poor posture. I have been considering going to a chiropractor to get an adjustment, will an adjustment help.
An adjustment will probably help give you some temporary relief.
Do you have a flat thoracic spine underneath the dowagers hump?
Wonderful Mark, thank you sooooo much. I had always prided myself on correct posture (ex military and an active lifestyle) however at 68 yrs I am using the wonders of the internet and spend many hours each day soaking up knowledge. Thank you again, an ill fitting work station has been the cause of my recent neck /shoulder issues. It will be a challenge as ‘normal’ chairs are always too high and deep for my physical size. I will look into the lumber supports and foot stools.
Best wishes from Australia
Thanks for dropping me a comment!
If you need further help on your work station, remember to check out my free E-book on How to set up your work station (… if you haven’t already :) )
Hello Mark, thank you making this website and helping people. I’m a final year medicine student. I have this problem called upper cross syndrome from the past 4 years. It really bothers me especially the trigger point in the left rhomboids. How long will it take to recover completely if im fully complaint with the physio.
Getting complete relief of your trigger point in your left rhomboid may take couple days to couples of weeks (depending on multiple factors of course).
But if it is purely a muscular strain/overuse, you should respond quickly to physio.
Since you have had your upper cross syndrome for awhile now, it may take more than 3-6 months to see some significant improvements.
Let me know how it goes!
I’ve been searching for what the enlarged bump below my neck is and I’m glad I came across your site to start exercises. I believe I first noticed the problem when I was in my third trimester of pregnancy and I have a problem with weight control. Could the problem also be from sleeping with two pillows every night to elevate my head? Thank you!
If you are using too many pillows, this can cause your head to poke forward (if you are sleeping on your back).
This can contribute to the bump on the base of the neck. But is unlikely the only cause.
Interesting useful information and I have started the excersices directly!! Is there any special pillow to use to help with posture while asleep. I always think the dowager hump looks really aging and i wish to avoid developing one.
I can’y really recommend a specific pillow, however, you would want to make sure that you maintain the neutral alignment of your neck whilst lying down. You can have a look at this post if you would like more info on sleeping positions.
Hi, I just wanted to add that I’ve been told I have ‘cervical degeneration’ (it’s genetic) and the vertebrae of my neck are becoming damaged. I was peeved by this, as I’ve always taken care over my posture due to the risk of kyphosis as I age. Anyway, I don’t think the exercises are going to prevent further degeneration … BUT I’ve just done the first four exercises and have regained quite a bit more movement in the neck, plus it’s not hurting as much.
I suspect that the gradually increasing discomfort has caused my posture to worsen, making it more painful so my posture worsens … ! With such an instantly positive result, I’m bookmarking your page and plan to do all the exercises at least once a day. Thanks :)
Great to hear you are going to do the exercises!
Let me know if you need any help with them.
My mom has very forward head posture and a dowager’s hump. She’s in her 60s and has had this for 20-30 years and I’m sure the bones are probably fused to some degree. She also gets severe migraines if her neck is disturbed in any way, including lifting more than 10lbs or getting a surprise neck massage (friend trying to be nice). Is there any way she can work towards correcting these problems at this point without getting migraines?
I would still recommend doing the above exercises for your mother, however, she needs to pay particular attention to how she responds to them.
It sounds like her neck can not tolerate too much force going through it so progress the exercises very gradually.
If some of the exercises are too intense, consider just doing the more gentles ones only.
Shar, it’s probably best to check whether Mark and your mum agree but I find heat relieves the pain in my neck, at least while the heat is present. Might it be worth warming a towel or scarf to wrap around her neck while she gently begins some of the stretches?
First off, you are the man! This site is amazing. Thank you for putting this out here and helping so many people. I have some questions. I’m 22 and have had awful posture for years, worsened by competitive swimming. I have a dowager’s hump, along with a forward neck, a humpback, and rounded shoulders. What do you suggest focusing on first?
Also, as I work on my posture and strengthening my shoulders, can I do exercises involving heavy use of my arms (such as swimming or weight lifting)?
Thank you again so much!
Swimmers, especially if you specialise in freestyle and/or butterfly, generally have bad posture.
If you have multiple issues with your posture (which is common), I would focus on your hunchback. However, you can do exercises for all of them at the same time if you have time.
It is fine to continue lifting weights/swimming provided that you maintain as good posture as possible whilst performing your exercises.
– Focus more on back training then chest training.
– Incorporate back stroke as much as possible in your swimming.
Hope this helps mate.
Hey Mark, I’m 19 years old and I believe I’ve had forward head posture for around 9 years. I started doing corrective exercises as well as sleeping on my back and just being very aware of my posture 24/7, about 2 months ago and have only seen very slight results, which is discouraging, but I’m still continuing regardless. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure I also have Dowager’s hump after reading this article, so I have two questions: 1. With the information I provided, how long do you think it will take to correct my posture, realign my spine, etc. and 2. If I fix my forward head posture, would that simultaneously fix my Dowager’s Hump as well? Or would I just have a straight neck but still have the hump in the back of my neck? It already takes a lot of time out of my day doing the other exercises, but if I have to add more I will. Just want your 2 cents, and thank you so much for all the information you provide on the website!
With someone with Forward head posture AND Dowager’s hump, it can take awhile to fix. Especially when addressing the Dowager’s hump, this area is very tight and squashed so it can take >6 months.
The Forward head posture exercises will indeed help greatly with your Dowager’s hump, however, I strongly recommend that you do the more specific Dowager’s hump exercises such as the Chin tuck with over pressure and Chin retraction with extension.
Don’t lose hope! It takes time, consistency and determination.
Feel free to private message me on the Facebook page if you have any specific questions :)
Great article! I am 35 and am getting concerned about the pain in my neck and the bump there — I will definitely work on these exercises. My question is about sleep however. I think I am curling up in that forward position to sleep because when I wake up the pain is even worse. Do you think sleeping on my back would be the best for this problem?
Sleeping on your back is the best for your spine in general.
However – you will need to make sure you keep the correct alignment of the neck using the correct pillow height.
You want to aim to get your chin a bit closer to your chest whilst lying down. (When the distance between your chin and chest is increased, this usually means you are poking your head forward)
Hi Mark, I’m so glad I just happened to stumble across your blog. Its been a godsend to my terrible posture ways. I did have a question about releasing tense muscles on the back of your neck, the sub occipital. Can I roll a ball using my hand against my head sitting upright, or does it have to be lying down and putting your head against the ball? I’ve tried your way and the sitting upright and I feel like sitting upright targetted the painful areas better than lying down. Thanks!
If you feel the release better when sitting upright, then do it that way.
As long as you are hitting the right areas, it’s all good!
Thank you for this info!! I’ve had a dowagers hump for years! Although I didn’t know that’s what it was. I’m extremely self-conscious about but didn’t realize it was caused by my posture and could possibly be fixed! I’m 27 I’m not sure how long I’ve had it. I don’t remember when it was that I first started noticing I would say its been probable about 4 years. Do you think its been too long? What’s a realistic time frame to see real results? I’m getting married in August and it would be great if it was better by then! Again Thank you!
Congratulations on getting married in August!
You can see quick results if you can achieve a better alignment of your head on your neck on your thoracic spine. IT’S NOT TOO LATE!
Doing the exercises mentioned in the post will most definitely help you out.
Hi Mark! Thank you so much for this! I have just started noticing the formation of a hump at the back of my neck and do exhibit all 3 posture misalignments. How frequently would you recommend doing the stretching and strengthening exercises listed here?
As many times as you can!
But, if you wanted a definite number, I would say at least 1/day.
Thanks Mark. this is very informative. My dad has poor posture and I figured i suffered it also. I have a the hump at the back of my neck and I will try to use to do every excise in an effort to change this . Any other info i would be glad to try.
I recently noticed my dowager’s hump and it is very unattractive. I am 50 so have my joints fused at this age? I have no issues with arthritis or spine. I feel mine is due to many many years on the computer and this has probably been progressively worsening all these years. I have been doing one particular exercise for forward head position for about 2 wks and I see some progress. Just wondering if at my current age, this can still be reversed. I am going to begin your other strategies today.
I have a the same questions as Niki above. However, I am older at 55 this year and pray that my joints have not fused and I will have this permanently. I never noticed this hump till about 2-3 years ago. I sit at a computer for 8-10 hours a day and am sure this is what caused it. My daughter is a Yoga Instructor and advised me to start Yoga asap along with the exercises you suggest here. Any other suggestions? Should I start using one of those desk that rise up to stand and work? Would that help at all? Thank you!
The best thing (besides from the exercises list above) is to take REGULAR breaks from the computer.
This might mean to use a standing desk, get up for a coffee, go to the toilet, even standing up for only 10 seconds.
The importance is to keep moving. Change positions. And not to stay in the one spot for too long.
All the best!
I am 74 and have had osteoporosis for thirty some years. A recent fall caused a 30% fracture in my T12 spinal cord. Overnight, it seems, I went from 5’2 to 4’11. I’ve had this ugly neck leaning forward for a long time. At least fifteen years. Doctors ask if I