The term kyphosis refers to an excessive rounding of the upper spine. Kyphosis is common in the elderly and can occur because of osteoporosis. Because this condition is often the result of poor posture and muscles that have become weak and tight, postural kyphosis can usually be corrected or improved. Exercises can help postural kyphosis, but you should check with your doctor first to make sure it is OK to start exercising.
Exercises performed with your back against a wall will not only help to improve your postural kyphosis, but they also will provide you with feedback as to how straight your back really is. Stand with your feet about 12 inches away from the wall and let the knees bend slightly. Try to touch your buttocks, upper back and back of the head to the wall. You can also stand in the same position, make the letter "W" with your hands and arms and try to touch your elbows and back of the hands to the wall as well. By using the wall for feedback, you can track your progress over time.
Exercises with Tubing
Back-strengthening exercises can help to correct postural kyphosis. Stand or sit and tie tubing around a door handle or table, then perform rowing exercises with the elbows bent and also with the elbows straight. These exercise will help to strengthen the muscles in the upper back that help you to stand up straight.
Exercises with Weights
Performing exercises with weights while standing, seated or lying on your stomach on a bench or on the floor is also helpful in strengthening your postural muscles. Movements such as bent rows, straight arm lifts (on the stomach) and pullbacks can all build strong muscles in your upper back.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons states that postural kyphosis occurs because of the upper-back muscles getting weak and the chest muscles getting tight. Yoga poses, such as locust pose, sphinx, cobra, cat and cow pose and upward-facing dog, can all help to loosen the muscles of the chest so you can stand up straight and pull the shoulders back. You can also lie on the floor on your stomach with the hands overhead and lift your arms and legs off the floor.
Basic Chest Stretches
To help manage your postural kyphosis it is important to take breaks throughout the day and correct your posture. This is especially true if you spend long periods at a desk or computer or other activity that encourages you to round your shoulders forward. A good rule is to change your posture every 20 to 30 minutes. Take a quick break and do a chest stretch, shoulder rolls, arch your back and move around a bit keeping your shoulders down and your back straight. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends working with a physical therapist who can help you learn to work and move in ways that will prevent your kyphosis from getting worse and hopefully correct the problem as well.