How To Fix Hunchback Posture

What is Hunchback posture?

hunchback posture

Hunchback Posture (also known as having a pronounced Thoracic Kyphosis) is where the upper back is excessively rounded forward.

The thoracic spine forms a curved-like appearance (… which resembles the letter “C”).

The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment.

For more information: Medical disclaimer.


What causes a Hunchback posture?

causes of thoracic kyphosis hunchback posture

a) Slouched sitting position

Think about it:

What is your posture throughout the day?… Are you up right?… Or is your back slouching forward?

The position you place your body for the majority of the day is what your default posture will become.

b) Confidence

Your level of confidence can affect your posture!

Low confidence and/or self esteem tends to present itself as a hunched posture.

c) Gut issues

Abdominal pain can force the body to adopt a curled up/hunched posture.

d) Excessive abdominal crunching

Excessive sit ups/crunches can lead to tight upper abdominal muscles.

This can result in the thoracic spine being pulled into a slouched posture.

e) Side sleeping

This is what I call “Horizontal slouching”… especially if you sleep in the fetal position.

f) Conditions

A pronounced upper back curve is also characteristic in conditions such as Osteoporosis and Scheuermann’s disease.

(With these conditions, there will likely be a limit as to how much we can affect the shape of the spine.)


Did you know… You will actually become shorter when you have a Hunchback posture!


What’s happening at the muscular level?

a) Tight muscles

  • Pectoralis Major/Minor
  • Upper abdominals
  • Anterior Intercostals
  • Latissimus Dorsi

b) Weak muscles

  • Thoracic erector spinae group

(These are the muscles we will be addressing with the exercises down below.)

How do I know if I have it?

Wall test:

test for thoracic kyphosis (hunchback posture)

Instructions:

  • Stand up with your back to a wall.
    • Have your feet away from the wall.
  • Aim to have your whole spine flat against the wall.
  • Stand relaxed. Do not over arch your lower back.
Results: If you are unable to place your entire back on the wall and a large proportion of your upper spine is away from the wall, then you probably have a Hunchback Posture.

How to fix Hunchback posture

1.  Releases

a) Chest release

chest release for hunchback posture

Instructions:

  • Place your chest over a massage ball.
  • Push your body weight into the ball onto the floor. (see above)
  • Whilst applying pressure, perform a gentle circular motion over the ball.
  • Perform this exercise for 60 seconds.
  • Aim to keep your muscles relaxed throughout exercise.
  • Be sure to cover the entire chest muscle.
  • Repeat on other side.

b) Upper abdominal release

thoracic kyphosis (hunchback posture) releases

Instructions:

  • Position the massage ball in the upper abdominal region.
  • Place your body weight on top of the ball. (see above)
  • Make sure that you keep your abdominal muscles relaxed.
    • Tip: Taking deep breaths in/out will help keep your abdominal region relaxed.
  • Hold each position for at 60 seconds.
  • Make sure to cover the entire area slightly below the lower rib cage.

Note: DO NOT place excessive amount of pressure into your abdominal region! There are many sensitive organs in the area which can be subject to injury when too much pressure is applied.

c) Latissimus Dorsi

releases for thoracic kyphosis

Instructions:

  • Locate the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.
  • Place the foam roller directly under these muscles.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight onto the foam roller.
  • Roll your body in an up/down motion.
  • Make sure you cover the entire muscle.
  • Duration: Continue for 2 minutes on each side.

2.  Stretches

a) Chest

Chest stretch

Instructions:

  • Place both hands on the door frame. (see above)
  • Lunge forward.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the front part of your shoulder/chest region.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

b) Abdominal stretch

abdominal stretch

Instructions:

  • Assume the position as above. (… also known as the cobra pose)
  • Keep your belly button in contact with the floor.
  • Aim to feel a deep stretch in the abdominal region.
  • To increase the stretch: As you take a deep breath in, let the abdominal region to expand.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Note: Do not over arch your back if you suffer from any lower back issues.

c) Latissmus Dorsi

Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Bend all the way to one side whilst reaching your arm over. (see above)
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your body to the lower back.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Alternate sides.

d) Prolonged stretch

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor with your bottom at the base of a couch.
  • Place your legs onto a couch so that your hips and knee are bent at 90 degrees.
  • Place your arms towards your sides.
  • Relax in this position for 5 minutes.
  • If tolerated, you can place your arms in the over head position.
  • Note: If required – Use a pillow to support your neck.

3.  Joint mobilization

If the joints in the thoracic spine are locked/stiff, it will be very difficult to change the posture.


a) Stretch into flexion

(The goal with this exercise is to create space between the joints.)

Instructions:

  • Whilst sitting, interlock your fingers behind your neck.
  • Proceed to gently pull your neck downwards.
  • Focus on bending at the upper back as much as possible.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in your thoracic spine area.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Take deep breaths in whilst in this position
    • Imagine the air expanding the area between your shoulder blades.

b) Thoracic rotation

rotation

Instructions:

  • Sit down on a chair.
  • Place your hands as shown in the above picture.
  • Rotate your spine (as to look behind you).
    • Apply force through your hands to provide additional pressure to the movement.
  • Oscillate in this end range position for 30 repetitions.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Note: Aim to feel the movement from your upper back, NOT your lower back.

c) Translations

Instructions:

  • Whilst keeping your pelvis stationary, slide your upper torso to the side.
  • Try to also lift the shoulder on the side you are sliding to.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on that side of your torso.
  • Alternate both sides.
  • Repeat 15 times.

d) Segmental cat/cow

Instructions:

  • Get into the 4 point kneel position.
    • Hands in line with shoulder joint. Knees in line with hip joint.
  • Starting from the neck: Proceed to round your spine down one vertebra at a time until you reach mid-back.
  • From here: Start from the mid-back and arch your spine one vertebra at a time until you reach the neck.
  • (Imagine the movement like a wave going through your spine.)
  • Repeat 20 times.

For more stretches like these, feel free to check out this post: Thoracic Spine Stretches.

4.  Thoracic extension Exercises

a) Thoracic extension (Foam roller)

exercises for hunchback posture

Instructions:

  • Position yourself over a foam roller. (see above)
  • Support your head with your hands
  • Arch backwards.
  • Make sure you do not flare your lower rib cage out.
    • DO NOT arch your lower back. It is imperative that you isolate the movement to the upper back region only.
  • Oscillate in the end range position for 30 repetitions.
  • Repeat times.
  • Note: If using a foam roller is uncomfortable, try using something thinner. (eg. rolled up towel)

You may feel a few clicks as you perform this exercise. This is normal. It is a release of pressure within the joint space.

b) Wall lean

wall squeeze

Instructions:

  • Place both hands high up on a wall in front of you.
  • Lean firmly into your hands.
  • DO NOT over arch your lower back.
    • Keep your lower rib cage down.
  • Aim to feel tension in the middle of your thoracic spine.
  • Oscillate for 30 repetitions.
  • Repeat times.

5.  Strengthening Exercise

a) Superman

strengthening exercises for hunchback posture (thoracic kyphosis)

Instructions:

  • Lie down on your stomach with your hands stretch out in front of you. (see above)
  • Lift up your chest so that it is slightly off the ground.
    • Keep your upper abdominal region flat on the ground.
    • “Peel your chest off the ground”
  • Do not over arch your lower back.
    • You should not feel a significant muscular contraction in the lower back region.
    • Aim to feel the contraction in the middle to upper spine.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Note: If this exercise is too difficult, keep your hands in contact with the floor to help you lift the weight of your torso.

6.  Addressing other areas

Hunchback Posture is commonly associated with the other postural issues such as:


a) Forward Head Posture

forward head posture

A Forward Head Posture is where the position of the head is in front of the mid line of the torso.

Do you have it?
For more information, check out this blog post:

b) Rounded Shoulders
rounded shoulders

Having Rounded Shoulders is when the resting shoulder position is in front of the mid line of the torso.

Do you have it?
For more information, check out this blog post:

c) Anterior Pelvic Tilt

anterior pelvic tilt

The Anterior Pelvic Tilt is where the pelvis is in a forward rotated position.

Do you have it?
For more information, check out this blog post:

d) Shoulder Impingement

A hunched posture can also lead to shoulder issues.

Do you have it?
For more information, check out this blog post:

7.  The most important thing to do…

Practice your good posture. (…as much you as can!)

You can’t do these exercises, go slouch on your computer for 10 hours straight… and then expect your Hunchback Posture will magically fix itself.

Remember this:

How you decide to position your body throughout the day will determine what your default posture will be.


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!

150 thoughts on “How To Fix Hunchback Posture”

  1. Hi Mark! Found your content today and did all the exercises re: round shoulder, forward head, etc. Awesome!! All in-line, if not better, than my physiotherapist’s recommendations lol. Thanks man! Btw, the link for ‘How to fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt’ is broken it’s missing the colon in ‘http://…’ :)

    Reply
    • Hey Richard,

      Glad that you like the exercise recommendations!

      Also – many thanks for picking up that broken link. I’ve changed it straight away.

      Mark

      Reply
  2. Hi Mark thanks for your very helpful posts. I have a hunchback posture rounded shoulders + forward neck combined with an anterior pelvic tilt. I am currently using your programs to try to fix these issues. I am a skinny guy, I was wondering what’s your opinion on ligting weights and going to the gym while having these postural problems. Should I focus on fixing my posture only, or I can do some lifting too (to build size and strength) at the same time. If so what exercices do you think I should emphasize on or avoid.

    Thanks a lot !

    Reply
    • Hey Taha,

      You can definitely still gym whilst working on your posture.

      Any exercise where you are cuing better posture, is still going to be a good posture exercise.

      You just want to be careful as you can also encourage less than optimal posture when doing any gym exercises.

      Eg. Bench pressing is great for posture! (even though it is predominantly working on chest muscles) If you can maintain the shoulders back position, and let the bar drop as low as possible to give you a good chest stretch, this will HELP your posture.

      The ones you want to avoid are the exercises that you are not able to correctly control your posture.

      Mark

      Reply
  3. An unrecognised cause of DH/hunchback posture is extraction of teeth in the teenage years. This procedure can also cause hooked nose.

    In my case, extraction of my cramped upper-four dental pair (counting from the front) at age 14, with braces to close the gap, caused a lifelong stooped posture (no hump) which I consciously need to fight against, unlike normal people. It was only a holistic dental surgeon who was kind enough to point out the errors of his mainstream practitioners.

    Only in recent years have North American dentists used jacks to separate and accommodate cramped teeth but in Europe the barbaric extractions still continue.

    So Mark: check your clients’ early dental history too! Remedial exercises may differ in such cases.

    Reply
    • Hey Trevor,

      This is interesting!

      I feel that there is definitely a link between teeth and posture.

      I’ve been recently looking into “Mewing” (tongue posture exercise) and its effect on malocclusion, forward head posture and breathing. So interesting.

      Mark

      Reply
  4. Hi Mark,
    Thanks again for these exercises!
    When I do the last two exercises (superman and chest lift), I try to keep my lower back relaxed but I still feel something in my lower back but it’s not pain. I have other problems (Anterior pelvis tilt, knee valgus, forward head), so is it ok to feel it in the lower back?

    Could it be due to my Anterior Pelvis tilt issue making my lower region tight, so I feel it?

    Reply
    • Hey Jess,

      In the vast majority of people with Hunchback posture, the lower back paraspinal muscles are already over active +/- tight.

      Although it is fine to strengthen this area, this purpose of these particular exercises is to engage predominantly the muscles in the thoracic spine region.

      If you can feel both areas working, you should be fine! (Just try to emphasize the upper back more so)

      Anterior pelvic tilt will definitely play a role here.

      Here are some exercises for that: How to fix an Anterior pelvic tilt.

      Good luck!!

      Mark

      Reply
  5. Hai I have a kyphosis problem for almost 5 years now my age is 20 and I want tu slove this problem urgently can u plz give me hard work out plain tu solve this problem urgently I am waiting

    Reply
    • Hey Haider,

      All of the exercises mentioned in the blog post will be the best place to start.

      On top of that, you will need to be more aware of your posture as you sit down.

      Mark

      Reply
  6. Hey Mark,

    I’ve been sticking with doing stretches for several weeks now. I’m having some issue trying to figure out the ‘superman’ technique. I can’t seem to get my body to not engage my lower back. Is there an alternate exercise I can begin with to help isolate the muscle group and get a feel for how to use it?

    Thanks so much for what you do. It’s great to have information out there to help those of us who are motivated to improve but can’t afford regular visits for physical therapy or other treatments.

    ~Dave

    Reply
    • Hey Dave!

      If your lower back in engaging too much, try keeping your chest flat on the ground.

      Focus on lifting the arms off the ground only.

      Keep your head relaxed with forehead resting on the floor.

      (Keep in mind – you will still feel your lower back muscles engage, but make sure they aren’t the main muscles working in this particular exercise).

      Mark

      Reply
      • Hi Mark,
        Fantastic work well done! Are the posture correcting braces worth trying as well as following the exercises you provided? If so, could you give us some ideas for selecting one?
        Thanks
        Oz

        Reply
  7. I have Scheuermann’s and I play tennis. Some of the tennis exercises I do require a bent over arched back. The best I can do is keep a straight back. If I do these exercises can I get somewhat of a better arch or do I have to do more or is it even possible?

    Reply
    • Hi there Samit,

      With Scheuermann’s disease, there is likely going to be a limit on how far you can extend your thoracic spine. (Due to structural reasons)

      I would still encourage you to continue with the exercises on the blog post to make sure you reclaim as much movement available.

      Better thoracic function might help with your arching.

      Mark

      Reply
  8. Hi,
    I am 38 years old with heavy hunc-back posture . Almost 3-4 inches i am shorter than when i stand straight. Do you have a intense workout programme ? Thank you

    Reply
    • Hey Bora,

      It would best to start with the exercises as mentioned on the blog post.

      From here- then you can venture out to do the more advanced exercises.

      Mark

      Reply

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