How to fix a Dowager’s hump

“What is that unsightly bump at the base of your neck!?”

That is what we call the Dowager’s Hump.

Dowager's hump

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


This article will cover:


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// Dowager’s hump definition

It is an enlarged prominence that is formed at the lower region of the neck.

… in other words – it’s a big bump that sits at the base of your neck!

 

// Features of a Dowager’s hump

bump

As you can see in the picture above, there is:

  • Enlarged prominence (…that’s the Dowager’s hump!)
  • Forward rounding at the base of the neck
  • Fatty deposit tissue
  • Hyper extension of the middle neck region
  • Loss of natural spinal curve in the neck
  • Forward head posture

// The main cause of a Dowager’s hump

Bad posture.

… Or more specifically, a forward head posture.

poked necdk vs normal

… is this your posture?

Think about how your posture looks like when you are sitting throughout the day.

If I were to guess, I’d say you spend a long time sitting down either in front of the computer, television and/or driving (… and probably with the above posture).

This is a lot of time in your bad posture.

Did you know… that for every inch  that your head protrudes forward from it;s normal alignment, you add ~10 extra pounds of force on your neck.

 


“How does my bad posture cause a Dowager’s hump?”

The problem – The more forward your head sits, the more stress is placed on the base of your neck.

The result – To cater for the extra stress, the body:

a) lays on thick connective tissue and

b) thickens the bone/joint at the base of your neck.

This is the body’s attempt to support your heavy head (…which gets even heavier the more forward it is!)

After a long period of time, the thick connective tissue accumulates to an extent where a hump forms – the Dowager’s hump.


** Note: There are certain conditions (namely Osteoporosis and Cushing’s Syndrome) that can also cause a bump at the base of the neck.

 

 

// Implications of having a Dowager’s hump

  • Aesthetics. Let’s be honest. It’s not the most appealing thing to have… But hey, at least now we can start to do something about it.
  • It can give the appearance of having a squashed neck (or lack of neck). It might even make you shorter!
  • Neck pain: As the head is in a sub-optimal position, there is more stress placed on the muscles and joints of the neck.
  • Higher risk to conditions like arthritis, disc bulges, nerve impingement, muscle spasm and headaches.

// How long will to take to fix?

It really depends. How long have you had your Dowager’s hump for?

The problem is… the longer you have had the Dowager’s hump, the more difficult it will become to improve it.

Your posture will not be fixed over night. But with the right corrective strategy and a bit of persistence, you will see gradual improvements. Every bit counts! Small changes add up over time.

So, the sooner you recognise you have it, the sooner we can help you fix it!

Note: If your joints have already fused together, it is unlikely that they can “un-fuse”. 

// How to test if you have a dowager’s hump

 

1. Take a side profile shot of yourself:

dowager's hump

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.

 

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! You’re looking/feeling for a significant bump.

How to fix your Dowager’s hump:

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Warning: These exercise are designed to be gentle and pain-free. If in doubt, please see a medical professional before commencing these exercises.


To fix your Dowager’s hump, you will need to:

  1. Release the tight muscles
  2. Stretch the tight muscles
  3. Loosen up stiff joints
  4. Strengthen the weak muscles
  5. Address other areas

1. Release the tight muscles

These tight muscles are responsible for pulling the head into the incorrect head position.

a) Sub-occipital

SuboccipitalSub Occipital massage

Instructions:

  • Rest your head on a massage ball.
  • Make sure the ball is pressing on the target areas (see X target areas as above).
  • Gently rock your head from side to side.
  • Remember – If it hurts, it’s probably a tight spot!
  • Do both sides.
  • Duration: 1 minute per side.

b) Sternocleidomastoid

scm release

Instructions:

  • Locate the target areas. (see above)
  • You should be able to feel a prominent band of muscle on each side of the neck.
  • Do not to press too deep as you may hit other sensitive structures of the neck.
  • Gently massage these muscles with a pinch grip.
  • Duration: 1 minute each side.

2. Stretch the muscles

Now that you have released the tight muscles, it is time to stretch them!

a) Sub-occipital

neck stretch back

Instructions:

  • Tuck your chin in.
  • Whilst keeping your chin tucked in, gently pull your head downwards.
  • Aim to feel a stretch at the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

 

b) Sternocleidomastoid

scm stretches

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Look to your left and upwards.
  • Tilt your head to the right side.You should feel a stretch on the left side of the neck.
  • To increase stretch: With your right hand, apply pressure to left side of head and pull down.
  • Hold for at least 30 second. Repeat for opposite side.
  • Repeat 3 times.

 

3. Loosen up the stiff joints

With the Dowager’s hump, the joints in the neck will be stiff. Let’s loosen them up!

a) Head slides


Video from HowCast

Instructions:

  • Keep your face forward and chin parallel with the ground throughout the movement.
  • Slide your head from side to side.
  • Aim to feel a strong stretch on the side that you are sliding towards.
  • Repeat 20 times.

b) Chin tuck with over pressure

retractoverpressure

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Tuck your chin in.
  • Place your hands on your chin (see above) and apply a downward pressure
  • Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times.

c) Chin retraction with extension


Video from McKenzie Institute International.

Instructions:

  • Tuck your chin. (think about the movement as a book sliding back into the shelf)
  • Whilst maintaining this position, proceed to look up/down.
  • Ensure that you do not poke your chin out excessively during the movement.
  • Repeat 30 times.

d) Self neck traction

Video from Integrative Movement Specialists.

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent.
  • Place one hand on the top of your chest, and the other hand behind your neck.
  • Proceed to pull down (towards your feet) with the hand on your chest as you pull up with the hand under your neck.
  • Aim to feel a pulling sensation at the back of your neck.
  • Hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
  • Make sure that your neck muscles are completely relaxed whilst performing this exercise.

4. Strengthening exercises

If you have a Dowager’s hump, then I can guaranty that these deep muscles will be weak! (… namely the neck retractors and deep neck flexors)

deep neck flexors

If your muscles are weak, then it will very difficult to fix your Dowager’s hump.

I’ve organised these strengthening exercises in order of difficulty.

Please do not skip any exercises! (… unless you find the exercise very easy)

a) Chin tucks (lying down position)

Chin nod

Instructions:

  • Whilst lying down, tuck your chin in.
  • Try to get the back of your neck to touch the floor.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

 

b) Chin tucks (up right position)

chintuck

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Keep your eyes horizontal as you tuck your chin in. (Tip: Think about this movement as the sliding of a book back into the shelf)
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

c) Chin tucks (with neck flexion holds)

dnfresistance

Instructions:

  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Keep your eyes horizontal as you tuck your chin in. (Tip: Think about sliding a book back into the shelf)
  • Whilst applying a resistance to the bottom of your chin in an upward direction, press down your closed fist.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

d) Chin tucks (against gravity)

chin tuck against gravity

Instructions:

  • Lie on your stomach with your head over the edge of the bed.
  • Gently tuck your chin in.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.

e) Chin tucks (with neck flexion against gravity)

neckretractionDNF

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your head over the edge of the bed.
  • Tuck your chin in.
  • Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  • Hold for 5-10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

 

Want more exercises? For a more comprehensive list of other neck exercises, check out this post:  Neck strengthening exercises.

5. Addressing your posture

“So… I just do the exercises mentioned above and my Dowager’s hump will disappear?”

No!… I wish it was that simple.

Although the exercises that I have mentioned above will definitely help address your Dowager’s hump, there are other factors that we must consider!

You see… your Dowager’s hump is a part of a bigger issue… and that’s your posture as a whole.

There are reasons why you have formed that Dowager’s hump. And to completely address this issue, we need to look at all other factors as well.

kyphosis

There are 3 main problems (but not limited to) in your posture that predispose you to developing the Dowager’s hump.

They are:

  1. Forward head posture
  2. Hunched back
  3. Rounded shoulders

Collectively, they place excessive amounts of stress to the base of your neck.

Problem 1: Forward head posture

Head over to this post: Forward head posture correction for an extensive list of exercises that will correct the position of your head.

 

Problem 2: Hunched back

Exercise to fix: Thoracic extension

Chest stretch

Instructions:

  • Place your outstretched hands onto a wall.
  • Lean into your hands.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades back together
  • You should feel a) a stretch in your chest and b) the muscles between your shoulder blades contract.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

… DON’T CHEAT! Make sure that do NOT over arch your lower back.

Head over to this post for an extensive guide to completely eliminate your hunch back posture.

 

Problem 3: Rounded shoulders

Exercise to fix: Retraction

scapulatretraction

Instructions:

  • Set yourself into the starting position. (as above)
  • Pull your elbows as far backwards as you can. (end position)
  • Hold at the end range for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat 20 times.

Head over here if you want an extensive guide on how to fix your Rounded shoulders.

Suggestions:


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!

 

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About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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124 thoughts on “How to fix a Dowager’s hump

  1. 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!

    1. Hi Cathie!

      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

    1. Hi Mary,

      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

  2. 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 🐣

    1. Hi Mary,

      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!

  3. Do you have any before and after pictures of people who have done this? 20 and just noticed a dowagers hump in January 😭

    1. Hi,

      I don’t unfortunately.

      Although – I would love if people could send in progress photos so that I can share them with everyone 🙂

      Mark

  4. 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.

    1. Hey Nicole,

      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.

      Mark

  5. Hey Mark

    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?

  6. 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!

    1. Hi Kelly,

      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.

      Mark

  7. Hi Mark,
    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.

    Sincerely,
    Niki Lee

    1. 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.

      I have seen some people use this device:

      … however – I have not used it on myself so can’t guaranty that it is effective.

      Mark

  8. 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?

    1. 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.

      Mark

  9. 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.

    1. Hi Terri,

      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.

      Mark

    1. Hey Tamara,

      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.

      Mark

    1. Hey Laura,

      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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

    1. Hi Theresa,

      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 🙂

      Mark

          1. What is a “massage ball”? I’m going to order one online. Is it larger or smaller than tennis ball? Is there another name?

          2. Hi Jean,

            It is slightly smaller than a tennis ball. Much firmer. And made of a rubbery material.

            I like to use Lacrosse balls.

            Mark

  12. 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!!

    1. Hey Erin,

      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.

      Mark

      1. 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.

        Mark

  13. 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!

  14. 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!

    1. Hi Korri!

      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.

      Mark

      1. 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
        Kate

        1. Hey Kate,

          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.

          Mark

  15. 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.

    1. Hey Jared,

      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.

      Mark

  16. 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..

  17. 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!

    1. 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!

  18. 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.

    1. Hi Delia,

      An adjustment will probably help give you some temporary relief.

      Do you have a flat thoracic spine underneath the dowagers hump?

      Mark

  19. 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

  20. 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.
    Thanks.

    1. Hey Junaid,

      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!

      Mark

  21. Hi Mark,
    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!

    1. Hi Shaye,

      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.

      Mark

  22. 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.

    1. Hey Gloria,

      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.

      Mark

  23. 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 🙂

  24. 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?

    1. Hi Shar,

      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.

      Mark

      1. 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?

  25. Mark,

    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!
    Sami

    1. Hey Sami,

      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.

      In general
      – Focus more on back training then chest training.
      – Incorporate back stroke as much as possible in your swimming.

      Hope this helps mate.

      Mark

  26. 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!

    1. Hey Dylan,

      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 🙂

      Mark

  27. 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?

    1. Hi Catherine,

      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)

      Mark

  28. 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!

    1. Hi Sharranya,

      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!

      Mark

  29. 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!

    1. Hi Tamara,

      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.

      Mark

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

  32. Hello Mark,
    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.

    1. Hello Mark,

      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!

      1. Hi Sharron,

        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!

        Mark

      2. 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 have scolisous (sp?) Not to my knowledge.
        Is it too late to straighten my back and body?
        I’m already working on your exercises in hope.

        1. Hi Shari,

          It’s never too late to make improvements to your posture.

          But if you having Osteoporosis and thoracic spine fractures, I would suggest getting assessed by a health practitioner in person (just to be on the safe side 🙂 )

          Mark

  33. Hi Mark, I have had weak neck muscles for years from previous jaw surgeries. I’v also struggled with posture but somehow did not connect the two. I started your exercies but I can only do about half of the repititions before it starts hurting and is sore afterwards. I would think this is normal with muscles that have not been worked for a long time. I’m wondering if it would be better to start slow? and would some heat afterwards help?

    1. Hi Pamela,

      Start with an amount of repetitions that you can comfortably handle. This will be your baseline.

      From here, aim to progress to higher reps when appropriate.

      The suggested repetitions are just an outline, but you can change it to cater for your level of ability.

      And yes, heat is awesome for relaxing the muscles afterwards 🙂

      Mark

    1. It can feel better even after 1 session.

      However – in terms of seeing a significant visual change, it can take a couple of months! (It really depends on how bad it is in the first place)

      Mark

  34. i’m 18 i’ve been suffering from major depression. i have been super active my entire life but the past year i have been lying on the couch ins ball. starting in june i felt the humor and it has gotten 10 times worse. is it fixable and how can you tell if your joints have fused?

    1. Hi Sammy,

      Good thing you are only 18 which means it is very likely you can fix the hump on your neck!

      Persist with these exercises and you will see a difference.

      Usually joints tend to fuse with conditions like arthritis. At your age (unless you have history of spine issues), it is very unlikely that they are fused.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Mark

  35. Can the problems you addressed be hereditary? My great grandmother, my aunt and several cousins have this problem. I, too suffer from it. I feel very self conscious all the time, get negative comments, etc. I am 68 yrs old and actually just recently had a name put to it by a chiropractor who said”you have forehead posture which is most unattractive”. Needless to say I signed up for appointments but became too expensive. My pain subsided but still have the problem.

    1. Hi Maggie,

      There definitely can be a genetic predisposition to developing this condition.

      However – I can almost guaranty you that you did not have it when you were born.

      Usually – it is caused by postural factors over the years.

      Mark

  36. Hi Mark,
    I am 14 years old and I’ve had this dowagers hump for about 3 years how would you k ow if your joints fused? And to help correct it could I just focus on correcting my posture?

  37. This is really great. I would love to try this. And i hope to get results soon once ive started it. Its really frowning to have this little hump on my neck.:(

    1. Hi Lee,

      It depends on how long ago that you had your surgery. I would ask clearance from your surgeon if it has been within 12 weeks.

      Other than that, the exercises should be fine providing that you are not over doing it.Listen to your body. If it hurts, feels uncomfortable and/or increases your pain, do not do the exercise.

      Mark

  38. I was wandering if at some point you could make a video of all these exercises? I have looked online a lot to find a way to correct my posture and this is the most helpful information but I have printed it all to follow and its so hard to stop, read, try throughout the day. I think its going to take a lot of repetition to see results. A video would be so useful, especially since its the first time I have done any of the exercises and I am not sure if I am doing them correctly. 🙂

  39. Thanks so much for your website! I think I have researched and read every website on the subject of forward neck posture and dowager’s humps out there, and this is by far the BEST!

  40. Hi Mark,
    You have said ‘ If your joints have already fused together, it is unlikely that they can “un-fuse”.’
    I have dowager’s hump. How do I know if it can’t be fixed ? I have cervical radiculapthy. Does the hump mean I can never fix my neck pain ?
    Thanks

    1. If your joints have fused together, there’s unfortunately too much we can do about that.

      HOWEVER – you just have to focus on areas where you can improve.

      The presence of a dowager’s hump does not completely mean that you will have pain for the rest of your life

      Mark.

      1. Thanks Mark. From the 10 yrs of computer job and my poor posture I have neck pain and shoulder and upper back pain ( for the past 3 years). I have forward head posture, rounded shoulders, a small Dowager’s hump.
        To reduce my pain, what should I begin with ? Will I have to do the exercises for all the above mentioned conditions or just forward head posture correction exercises will give me some relief to begin with. With a 6 month old to care for I can manage put in only 2 hrs everyday to exercise.

        1. Hi Lakshmi,

          Focus on the Releases and Stretches to begin with. This will help reduce your pain.

          On top of that, you need to identify ANY activity/movement/position that makes your symptoms worse.

          Either a) Modify it so you can do it without symptom reproduction, b) minimise your exposure to it OR c) don’t do it all.

          For you specifically, this may involve workstation modification, frequent breaks for the prolonged sitting position, being careful how you hold/nurse/lift/bath etc your 6 month old, regular stretches.

          Once your pain has subsided, you can focus a bit more on the strengthening side.

          Mark

          1. Thank you so much Mark. I will go with your advice. I know that road to recovery could be a very long one, nevertheless I am not going to give up.
            Thanks for your help !

  41. Mark, I appreciate very much the valuable information and advice in this website. I am upset seeing young people and adults of various ages suffered from bad postures without knowing it. I looked up this issue with a view to convincing my family member to take care of the problem. The exercises certainly will help.

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