That hump at the base of the neck, which you commonly see in older adults, can result from osteoporosis or poor posture. Dowager’s hump, neck hump, text hump, or hunchback are common names for that excessive curve in the upper spine. Anyone can develop the condition, which is medically known as kyphosis, and it tends to result from forward-leaning posture, something that is all-too common in our technological society.
What Is Dowager’s Hump?
Dowager’s hump, or kyphosis, is a condition that is characterized by a spine that curves excessively forward. Although the spine has natural curves that help maintain posture, kyphosis makes standing up a challenge. In addition to the hump that results from this condition, you may also experience:
- Tight hamstrings
- Rounded shoulders
- Extreme fatigue
- Headaches or migraines
- Pain or stiffness in shoulder blades or upper back
Can You Reverse Dowager’s Hump?
Depending on your age and the severity, you can often improve or completely reverse a dowager’s hump. You can do this by strengthening your upper back and neck muscles, but various postures and stretches can also be beneficial. Early intervention and treatment is essential to combat the excessive curvature of the spine. Consider the following exercises to help reverse the hump.
This is a great exercise to do multiple times a day because it works to strengthen and straighten the upper back. Sit or stand up straight and try to relax your jaw and drop your shoulders. Direct your gaze out in front of you and remind yourself not to round your upper back. Draw your shoulder blades back, attempting to squeeze them together and hold this position for three to five seconds. Return to the starting position and then continue to repeat until you complete 10 repetitions.
This exercise works to activate and strengthen the muscles along the front of the neck. Place two fingers at the bottom of your chin and gently tuck your chin in, retracting your head back. Use your fingers to guide your head back and keep your chin tucked throughout the exercise. Hold the retracted position for five seconds and then relax. Aim to complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
Wall angels work to create both strength and mobility in the upper back muscles, which can encourage better posture over time. Stand up straight with your back against a wall and arms by your side, ensuring that the back of your head touches the wall as well. Bring your arms out and up over your head until you look like a ref signaling a good field goal. Bring them back down by your sides and then continue until you complete 10 repetitions. It should feel like you are making snow angels against the wall.
Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Contract your core as you raise your left arm up and reach it forward, aligning it with your back. Find your balance and then extend and raise your right leg behind you, aligning it with your back. Keep your weight centered and hold this position for about three seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat on the other side and then continue alternating until you have completed 10 sequences (each side 10 times).
Mid Fly Back Exercise
This exercise works to strengthen and stretch the muscles in the upper back, making it easier to keep the neck properly aligned. Stand or sit up straight in a chair and plant your feet flat on the floor. Hold an exercise band in both hands and hold your arms out in front of you. Make sure there’s a little bit of slack in the band, and then pull your arms out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades. Slowly return to the starting position and then continue until you complete a total of 12-15 reps.
Working to improve mobility in the upper back, Cat Cow helps to maintain neutral posture and improve spinal flexibility. Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. On a big inhale, drop your stomach and arch your back as you look up. Exhale and round your back, dropping your head down. Alternate between these two positions in a controlled manner for about 30 seconds. Do one round in the morning and once at night.