Skip to main content

Preventing the Development of Hunchback Posture

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Matthew is an online writer who strives to help readers take care of their bodies.

Don't let a hunched posture develop.

Don't let a hunched posture develop.

What Is a Hunchback?

You have probably heard of the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Chances are that you have seen both people you know and passersby standing hunched or stooped over. This condition is known as kyphosis.

There are normal curves in the neck, mid back, and lower back. When the curve of the upper back is accentuated, it is known as a kyphotic spine, as shown in the right picture.

There are normal curves in the neck, mid back, and lower back. When the curve of the upper back is accentuated, it is known as a kyphotic spine, as shown in the right picture.

What Causes Kyphosis?

Kyphosis usually refers to a medical condition in which the top portion of a person's spine, or the thoracic spine, is curved more than 40 degrees. This can be caused by congenital issues, Scheuermann's disease, multiple compression fractures from osteoporosis or injury, scoliosis, infection, or tumors.

A hunched back can also be caused by poor posture. Standing with your back and shoulders hunched over can cause muscle pain and discomfort, but this posture is caused by habit, not by any problem with the spine. This is known as postural kyphosis.

What Exactly Is Postural Kyphosis?

A hunched posture is when your head juts forward, pulling up your upper back spine into a "hunched up" curve. People often jut their heads forward in this manner while looking at laptops or mobile screens.

Exercising helps form healthy bones. For postural kyphosis, core exercises such as leg lifts can help posture.

Exercising helps form healthy bones. For postural kyphosis, core exercises such as leg lifts can help posture.

Can It Be Prevented?

The aforementioned medical forms of kyphosis—congenital conditions, Scheuermann's disease, compression fractures, scoliosis, etc.—are generally not preventable. The only exception is that you can lessen the likelihood of developing osteoporosis, which can lead to compression fractures, by keeping your bones healthy.

Healthy bones start when you are young and are maintained throughout life. The two things you can do to contribute to healthy bones are:

  • Eat a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D.
  • Exercise regularly.

However, postural kyphosis is a completely different case. There are many things that can be done to prevent this posture problem, such as:

  • Core and back exercises
  • Buying a stand for your laptop so that you do not have to look down
  • Holding cellphones and books at eye level instead of craning your neck
  • Sleeping on your back
  • Sitting and standing with a straight back

Is this posture common in upper back area ?

Can You Correct This Posture?

If your hunched back is accompanied by fatigue and pain, and you are unable to stand with a straight back when you try, you should have a doctor make sure that the curve isn't caused by something besides posture. Treatments for kyphosis caused by medical conditions include the use of a back brace and surgery.

If you have already begun to develop a hunched posture, but it's only a posture, there are a few things you should do:

  • Always be aware of your posture—If someone comments on your slouching, sit up straight. If you know you always have your head down texting or reading, start doing it while looking forward. Also watch how you are walking—a great way to do so is by watching a video of yourself.
  • Get adjusted—See a chiropractor, physical therapist, or massage therapist as well to check your spine for proper alignment. A physical therapist will also give you exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles.
  • Do neck traction at home—Specifically, you want to do the type of neck traction where you lay down, as this will help lessen the curve in your neck that accentuates a hunched posture. If you decide to do this, first consult your physical therapist.
  • Do postural exercises—Your back and core muscles work together to keep a straight spine. Crunches, planks, bridges, and leg lifts will all help strengthen the muscles you need to make a straight spine second nature. The Mayo Clinic provides directions for each of the exercises and more.
  • Use a contoured neck pillow at night—A contoured neck pillow can help you maintain the proper curve in your spine while you are sleeping. Keep in mind that this can be hard to get used to in the beginning, but you will soon get used to it.

How Long Will It Take to Go Away?

Just yesterday I got a call from a woman who was very upset. She must have seen some pictures of herself at a recent family reunion and realized that she was developing a hunched back posture.

I gave her the specific suggestions listed above.

Her next question was: "How long will it take to correct my posture?"

Well, that depends. How committed are you to making a change in your posture? Don't forget that this posture did not develop overnight. Little by little, your posture kept on changing. Small things like slouching, not sitting correctly, craning your neck to view the computer screen, computer, book, etc. all contributed to this process. It can take years for this posture to develop. During that time, some of your muscles may have weakened.

Just as it took time to develop poor posture, it will also take time to correct it. You have to adjust your posture every day, and your posture will eventually improve, but it won't happen overnight.

Are you worried about developing a hunchback posture?

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Are You Worried about Developing This Back Posture? Share Your Thoughts and Advice

Betty Keesman on August 14, 2017:

Yes I have a bit of a start of it. Don't want to go to a chiropractor but is a massage therapist also helping.

Adampeterson07 on July 09, 2017:

"Amazing article and workout. Thanks for sharing your insights