Thoracic kyphosis is defined as an abnormally excessive convex kyphotic curvature of the thoracic spine, causing a forward rounding of the back. To be clear, some convex curvature is normal, but when it becomes excessive it leads to a “hunchback” appearance leading to muscle imbalance, early wear and tear on the spinal joints, nerve pressure, and premature disc degeneration.
What causes it: A few things that can cause kyphosis include spinal degenerative changes, poor posture, compression fractures, muscle weakness/imbalance, altered biomechanics, etc. There are even cases that can be traced back to abnormal spinal development during the paediatric years.
The best way to treat kyphosis is to try and prevent it from ever occurring by promoting healthy growth and development of the spine. However, many people don’t realize it is a problem until it is already present.
There are a couple ways to go about treating kyphosis and other major spinal disorders like scoliosis or degenerative disc disease. The first option is surgery. It is invasive, permanent, and runs a risk of several side effects. In very severe cases it may be the only option, but the large majority of cases respond effectively to the natural, less invasive method that we provide.
NeuroStructural Chiropractic / Spinal Exercises
Chiropractic adjustments aimed at restoring structure by removing tension from the nervous system are essential. These adjustments physically help direct your spine back to it’s normal structure and make the spinal exercises (aimed at restoring muscle imbalances) more effective. These exercises include:
- Mirror Image: Simply move your body into a position that is opposite of the posture you are trying to correct. Stand tall (with your back against a wall), bring your head back over your shoulders, and tuck your chin if needed. Feel as though you are pulling your shoulder blades back and down - hold this position for 60 seconds.
- Head Retraction: This exercise is done lying on the floor and is meant to strengthen deep neck muscles that are weak in people with kyphosis. Lay on the floor and pull your chin back and in (as if you are trying to make a double chin). Hold this for 15 seconds and repeat 10 times. (see below)
- Superman: This exercise strengthens the weak back muscles seen with kyphosis. Lay on your stomach, and extend your arms forward in front of your head. Keep your head neutral (looking at the floor) and raise your arms and legs upwards off the ground. Feel like you are reaching far away from your body with your hands and feet. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. (see below)
- Standing Extension: The goal of this is to stretch the tight chest muscles while also strengthening weak back muscles. Start standing tall, with knees slightly bent, chest upright, and shoulder blades pulled back and down. Once you are in this ideal posture, raise your arms up above your head with your thumbs pointing behind you. Take 3 slow, deep breaths and focus on keeping your body in this position.
- Foam Rolling: Foam rolling through your thoracic spine will help to improve joint mobility. Lay on the floor with a foam roller under your low back. Bend your knees to help support yourself and gently roll the foam roller up to the top of your shoulder blades and then back down to the swell of your low back. Repeat this 3-5 times. (see below)