The natural curvature of the thoracic (mid) and cervical (neck
level) spine is described as the kyphosis of the spine. When someone reports kyphosis of spine, they generally
are referring to excessive kyphosis.
Excessive kyphosis is represented typically by a forward head carriage and a rounded back. In other words, a
less-exaggerated version of a hunchback. The head is carried in front of the body, so that if a vertical line was
drawn from the shoulders to the sky, the ears would sit in front of this line. Excessive kyphosis of the spine can
be detrimental over time and result in both neck and lower back pain.
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As a compensation for excessive kyphosis of the spine, the spine loses some of its lordosis (natural curve of
the lower back) in the lumbar spine. This greatly increases the risk of disc herniations in the lower back!
Additionally, by over-stressing muscles of the neck, this faulty posture can create neck tension, pain, and
This postural flaw is generally the result of muscular imbalances. After performing long hours at a desk or the
computer, the body begins to adapt to its demands and creates new muscle and connective tissue to anchor in this
new "preferred" posture. This better suits us to long hours at the computer, but over time, creates destruction in
our everyday lives!
In order to reverse this, muscular imbalances need to be corrected. In the case of excessive kyphosis of the
spine, the muscles in the back of the neck become strong and dominant over the muscles in the front of the neck. In
order to correct this, we need an exercise that can strengthen the muscles in the front of the neck. Here is an
- Sit or stand up straight and put one finger on your chin.
- Move your entire head backwards about one inch. Imagine pushing our chin backwards and trying to create a
double chin. Use your finger to guide you.
- Try to feel the contraction of the muscles in the front of your neck, just to the side of your voicebox.
- Repeat this for several sets of 10 repetitions (a repetition is one contraction, a set is a collection of
The most common mistake when performing the drill above is nodding your head (as if to say no) rather than
moving the entire head. In order to make sure you are doing it right, look up and focus in on an object. You should
be able to perform this drill and keep your eyes on this object the entire time. Additionally, after a few sets of
10 repetitions, the muscles in the front of your neck will be tired.
You should perform this drill a few times a day (at least starting out) for best results. Just remember that
there are 168 hours in the week, so you still have to make a good effort to stand up tall if you want to reverse
your excessive kyphosis. Adidtionally, any other drills you can perform which help strengthen the muscles of your
mid and upper back will help out with this common postural problem.
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