Tag: <span>back posture</span>

how to treat hunchback

How to treat hunchback (and what causes it to begin with)

You may know it as a “Dowager’s Hump”…or simply hunchback. You may think it only affects senior citizens. The reality is that hunchback, or hyperkyphosis as it is professionally called, is affecting more and more people of varying ages. I often get asked about how to treat hunchback and if there is anything that can be done to prevent it.

 

Understanding hyperkyphosis (hunchback)

Physicians refer to the chronic, forward-leaning posture as hyperkyphosis. This condition is characterized by a rounding of the upper spine into a C-shaped curvature. If you have poor posture, over time you can develop an abnormal curve of the upper thoracic vertebrae and a sometimes a mass of tissue at the lower part of your neck. Typically, you have a head forward posture and loss of the normal cervical curve.

The severity of the condition can vary as can the symptoms, including:

  • rounded shoulders or a hump on the back
  • back or neck pain or stiffness
  • feeling of head being too heavy or fatigued muscles in the back or neck
  • tension headaches

Both men and women are susceptible, with an increased occurrence during middle-age.

 

What Causes Hunchback

how to treat hunchbackBad posture is the most common cause. You’ve heard me talk about posture before and how much it impacts your health. With the increased use of smartphones, tablets and laptops, many people are in a slouched head forward position for hours a day, not to mention if their desktop computer is not set up ergonomically correct.

With a hunchback condition, your head is jutting forward, putting a lot of stress on the base of your neck. How much stress? Well, for every inch your head protrudes forward from its normal alignment, an extra 10 pounds of force is placed on your neck! Studies show that a loss of cervical curve as well as hyperkyphosis can reduce conductivity of the spinal cord as well as reduce lung capacity!

Poor posture can also develop from:

  • slouching or hunching, such as at a computer or in front of a TV
  • leaning back in chairs
  • carrying heavy loads on your back, such as a backpack full of books

If you develop hunchback from poor posture, the condition can often be corrected through exercise and practicing good posture. Some individuals develop more severe hyperkyphosis as a result of:

  • Compression fractures/osteoporosis
  • Congenital problem
  • Loss of postural muscle tone with aging – it’s estimated that 20 to 40 percent of older adults have hyperkyphosis.

Maintaining good posture is the best way for you to prevent hunchback. Core-strengthening exercises can be beneficial too.

 

Stretches to treat hunchback

Depending on your age and the severity, you can improve or reverse your hunchback. The key is to strengthen the upper back muscles as well to reduce the head forward posture and restore the cervical curve. Increasing muscle tone helps pull back the shoulders and put the head back on top of the shoulders. Just understand that even with practicing good posture and doing specific exercises, hunchback won’t go away overnight. It may take months of effort. And waiting too late to deal with it could mean that you’ll never completely get rid of it.

These exercises are excellent for improving your condition…but they are great preventatives too!

 

Chin tuck

Hold your head level, tuck your chin slightly and bring your head back directly over your shoulders (like you are a cobra about to strike). This is not an up or down movement, it’s straight back, so your nose should not tip down but stay level. You can do this exercise just about anywhere to help with your posture. Do chin tucks in sets of ten, rest and repeat.

 

Upper back stretch

Face a wall and place your hands flat against it above your head. Keeping your neck neutral, sink down into the stretch, being sure not to let your head drop as you’re doing this stretch. Keep your ears in line with your shoulders. After about 10-20 seconds, sink further into the stretch. Repeat several times.

 

Wall pushups

Again, face a wall with your hands head-level and shoulder width apart. Do a traditional push-up, making sure not to let your chin drop. You’ll feel the scapula in your back come together as you lean towards the wall. Do pushups in sets up ten, take a break, then do another set.

 

Finally, as an augment to exercises, we highly recommend this wedge, which we sell in our office. The Apex Premium with Heat counteracts forward head posture to help relieve headaches and neck pain. The wedge not only provides better support but also moist heat therapy. Patients rave about it! It’s well worth the $35 investment.

If you’d like some help getting started with treating hunchback at home or wonder if chiropractic treatments can aid the reversal (they can), please reach out and make an appointment to meet with myself or Dr. A.

Dr. Sharman

 

 

poor posture in children

The public health epidemic you should know about

I don’t throw the words “public health epidemic” around lightly, but I do feel that we have gotten to that point with this health issue. I see it every day in my practice as well as in my community…and it has gotten dramatically worse in the 20 years I’ve been practicing chiropractic.

That public health epidemic is poor posture in children.

When I started practicing, chiropractors were mainly talking about children’s backpacks being too heavy and the impact of the added weight on kids’ posture. Although that is still an issue, now the main culprits of poor posture in children are the use of electronic devices and poorly developed postural muscle tone, due to the sedentary lifestyles of today’s kids.

Why posture is important – in children and adults

Before we get into the causes and ways to improve poor posture, I want to spend a moment on why good posture is critical for children – and really anyone.

When we have good posture, it keeps us in proper alignment, preventing abnormal wear and tear on our bodies. It also reduces the likelihood of injury. With good posture, our muscles work most efficiently and correctly, reducing strains and overuse.

There are even more profound effects of poor posture – ones that most people are completely unaware of.

  • Studies have shown that slouching reduces lung capacity. People with an exaggerated rounding of the back, or kyphosis, can reduce their lung capacity up to 30 percent!
  • Head-forward posture elongates the spinal cord causing a reduction in nerve conductivity.
  • Your muscles need to work harder when your head is forward as well. Every inch your head leans forward creates 10 additional pounds of weight for the muscles to support in keeping your head upright. Think of the difficulty of holding a bowling ball far away from your body in front of you versus holding it close to your chest.
  • Finally, there are some psycho-social aspects to poor posture. Studies even show that having bad posture can impact your mood (and improving your posture can make it better).

 

RELATED: Poor Posture Can Equate to Neck Pain

Causes of poor posture in children

The obvious one is overweight backpacks. At the same time, children today are slouching to look over electronic devices for long periods of time and leading sedentary lifestyles that contribute to poor muscle tone. Finally, stooping to bend when trying to look “less tall” and female development of breasts during puberty also contribute to poor posture habits.

Ways to improve posture

For starters, make sure your child’s backpack is no more than 10 percent of their body weight. Kids have been dealing with heavy backpacks for years, and there are some basic things they can do to lessen the load.

If your child has a computer or laptop station, make sure it is set up to be ergonomically correct. Investing in a quality chair at their computer desk will encourage better sitting posture.

If they do spend a lot of time on iPads, smartphones or other electronic devices, find ways for them not to slouch. They can stack pillows on their lap and rest their elbows on them to bring the device higher up.  You can encourage them to sit on a stability ball while they play video games or browse their devices so that they are at least activating their core muscles while they entertain themselves. Of course…. limiting their screen time will also help!

Most importantly, if your child has bad posture, know that it can be improved. I have seen many children go from poor posture to normal posture through chiropractic and postural exercise. We have great protocols in our office to make improving posture both fun and satisfying for children of all ages. I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to see a child’s confidence improve right along with their posture!

The American Chiropractic Association has a lot to say about posture – check it out.

 

Dr. Sharman