Exercises for an Upper Thoracic Hump

An upper thoracic hump is also known as kyphosis, or an abnormal curvature in the upper back causing it to appear rounded. The condition is also known as a dowager's hump because it often occurs in older, postmenopausal women. Several factors contribute to kyphosis including poor posture, congenital malformations in the spine, and age-related disorders such as osteoporosis and degenerative disc disease. Surgery can correct the condition and exercises can help relieve the symptoms, such as back pain and stiffness, and slow the progression of the condition.

Female working out with dumbbells. (Image: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Pillow Neck Extension

The pillow neck extension engages and strengthens the muscles in the back of your neck. Lie on your back on the floor, or on a firm mattress. Place a folded pillow under your head so that your head and neck are fully supported. Tilt your chin up and press the back of your head into the pillow as far as is comfortable. Hold the pose for 20 seconds and gently turn your head left and right. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Pillow Chin Tilt

The pillow chin tilt draws your head back into its natural position, and stretches the muscles in the back of your neck. Lie on your back on the floor, or on a firm mattress. Place a folded pillow under your head so that your head and neck are fully supported. Tilt your chin down and press your head back into the pillow as far as is comfortable. Hold the pose for 20 seconds, breathe deeply and allow your head to tilt and press further with each exhale. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Cat/Cow

The cat/cow warms up and stretches the muscles of the chest, upper back and lower back. Start on your hands and knees with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. For cat, tuck your pelvis and draw your navel toward your back. Round your lower back, draw your shoulders forward and relax your head so that you are looking at your knees. Hold this pose for five seconds. For cow, tilt your tailbone up, press your chest toward the floor and tilt your chin toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for five seconds. Slowly alternate between cat and cow five times, rest, then repeat the sequence five more times. If your knees bother you, kneel on a cushion or folded towel.

Standing Back Extension

The standing back extension is a back bend that stretches the muscles on the front of your torso and neck, and relieves the abnormal curve of your back. Stand with your feet at hip width, engage your abs and pull your shoulders back and down so that they are in line with your hips. Draw your head back so that your ears are in line with your shoulders. Put the palm of your hands on your lower back and hips, as if putting your hands in your back pockets. Push your chest forward and up and tilt your chin toward the ceiling so that your upper back arches backward. Hold the pose for 10 seconds, then relax back to the starting position. Repeat five times.

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