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

backdouble

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!

147 thoughts on “How To Fix Hunchback Posture”

  1. Hi, most of my slouching / hunch back is caused by lack of strength in my back/core. Should I be adding exercises to strengthen the core?

    Reply
  2. Hi Mark, thanks a lot for this excellent resource!

    I’ve a question about the abdominal stretch: the instruction says, “Keep your belly button in contact with the floor”. If I try to reproduce the photo, I can get a good stretch, but my belly button is nowhere near the floor! Any way I change my posture to try to match the instruction, I can’t get a good stretch. Am I misunderstanding?

    Reply
  3. I have back pain in my mid back (around the bottom of my ribs) but only on my left side which is aggravated by sitting down. I have had scans and tests to rule out any spinal problems and have been told that it is caused by muscle spasm and postural imbalances.

    I notice some discomfort doing the side bend lat stretch shown in this article on my left side. It just so happens that I also have limited rotation range of motion to that side as well in my thoracic spine. Do you have any recommendations to help relieve this?

    Reply
  4. Hello. Thank you for the very detailed guide. I have Scheuermann’s Disease with a curve in the upper back (not that bad actually). How much improvement is possible by doing the exercises above?

    Reply
    • Hey Brian,

      As Scheuermann’s is classified as a structural issue, there might be a limitation on how far these exercise will reverse the curve.

      However- They can certainly help reduce or stop the curve from getting worse!

      Mark

      Reply
  5. I am 50 years old and I have had bad posture for years, I have developed a hunch. When I do the wall exercises (the ones where you try to stand with your back flat against the wall), it hurts in my middle back, where the hunch is. Is that normal? I also can’t get my head back on the wall. Hopefully it is not to late for me.

    Reply
    • Hi GC,

      If it hurts directly in the middle, this may suggest your joints are compressing against each other.

      If this is the case – I would actually recommend focusing decompressing the upper back with the posterior line stretch (as seen on the blog post as “Stretch into Flexion”). This will eventually help make the wall exercise easier.

      Mark

      Reply
  6. hii I’m 16 and My posture is kinda bad and idk what to do my self esteem goes so much down when I notice and idk what to do :( and I lost a lot of weight but I have man boobs and sometimes I get tired and I just don’t got good posture can u help ?

    Reply
    • Hey Omar,

      Working on your posture can help build confidence!

      If your upper back is quite hunched forwards, the exercises mentioned on this blog post will be a fantastic place to start.

      I would also encourage you to address your rounded shoulders as well.

      Mark

      Reply
  7. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for the article and suggestions.
    I’m 58, but in great shape and workout 4-5 times a week. Is there hope for me at my age?
    Thank you,

    Reply
  8. Hi Mark
    Thanks so much for all the info! I have always had a weak back with bad posture. I’ve also had a long neck. Since I’ve had a child I’ve developed rounded shoulders, hunchback and a dowagers hump. Which of these should I tackle first? Would doing the shoulders one day, then hunchback, and then the dowagers hump and then repeat them all be a good idea? Any suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Hey Carrie,

      You can tackle any postural issue first.

      One of the harder ones to see change in most people is the Hunchback and Dowager’s hump. Perhaps you can focus your attention there first before moving onto another area.

      Mark

      Reply
  9. I loved what you shared, especially you can see that I usually have the posture of the head forward, the exercises helped me a lot and I am going to combine with to improve my results

    Reply
  10. Hi mark
    Can you please elaborate “WALL LEAN”
    Exercises
    You told feel the stretch in mid back
    If I’m just leaning on wall how can i feel the stretch.
    Is this a static pose?
    what does that two arrow signify?
    What do you mean by oscillation ?

    Reply
    • Hi Shubham,

      You want to feel TENSION in the mid back, not a stretch.

      This will indicate you are bending backwards at the point where you feel tension.

      If anything – a stretch will be more so at the front of the chest.

      The arrows signify shoulder blades rolling backwards as you lean your arms into the wall.

      Oscillation means to bounce at this end range position.

      Mark

      Reply

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