Winning the Posture Battle: Your Action Plan for Hyperkyphosis


How’s your posture? Are you familiar with the term “hyperkyphosis?”. It’s that hunch that adds weight to your shoulders and affects your spine’s health. It’s not just an aesthetic concern. Hyperkyphosis is a potential troublemaker for your spine’s health and your functionality and well-being. Let’s take a closer look at this common phenomenon that becomes more common with age.

Your spine is an architectural marvel that supports your every move but it may also undergo some twists and turns as the years go by. Among those twists, age-related hyperkyphosis sneaks onto the scene, affecting between 20-40% of older adults. And it can sneak up on you as you age.

The culprit with hyperkyphosis is an exaggerated anterior curvature of the thoracic spine. The normal curvature of your thoracic spine is a balance between the shape of your vertebral bodies and the discs that separate each one. It’s like nature’s blueprint for an architectural masterpiece.

But things can go awry with balanced architecture. A kyphosis angle exceeding 40°, means you’re in hyperkyphosis territory. Think of it as a gentle slope that becomes a rollercoaster drop. Your thoracic spine takes on a more pronounced curve, and suddenly, your posture changes.

Unmasking the Culprits: Lifestyle Factors that Shape Hyperkyphosis

While aging is a top cause of hyperkyphosis,  lifestyle factors, genetics, and day-to-day habits can all take a  toll on your spine. It’s a blend of elements, each contributing to the curve that sets hyperkyphosis in motion.

When you spend prolonged periods sitting, whether hunched over a screen or slouched in a chair, you’re sending an open invitation to hyperkyphosis. It’s like the antagonist of our story, gradually coaxing your spine into a more pronounced curve.

And then there’s the damaging effect of poor posture. Picture someone perpetually craning their neck to glimpse at their phone – that’s bad posture in action. When you consistently adopt positions that round your upper back and drop your shoulders, you’re handing hyperkyphosis the keys to your spine’s kingdom. It’s like a mischievous sidekick, aiding and abetting the curvature of your thoracic spine.

And there’s another contributor: muscular imbalances. Imagine a tug-of-war between opposing teams – that’s what happens when certain muscle groups overpower the opposing ones. When the muscles of your chest tighten while those of your upper back weaken, it’s like one team pulling with all its might while the other watches in defeat. The result? An imbalance that pushes your spine into a more pronounced curve.

Stress: The Subtle Contributor to Hyperkyphosis

And last but not least, there’s stress. Picture someone juggling a dozen tasks at once, perpetually on the edge – that’s stress, our final character. When stress tightens your muscles and tenses your body, it’s like a storm brewing on the horizon. This tension, over time, can contribute to the curvature of your thoracic spine. It’s a subtle player but not one to ignore.

So, there you have it. These lifestyle habits, like intricate puzzle pieces, join forces to shape the narrative of hyperkyphosis. But don’t fret – our journey isn’t just about identifying the culprits. It’s about understanding their role and, learning how to rewrite the story.

The Impact of Hyperkyphosis: From Aches to Altered Breathing

Unfortunately, hyperkyphosis can bring along side effects. First off, think discomfort – your back and neck might ache, and you could feel tingling in your arms or buttocks. Breathing could become more challenging too. The curve affects your ribcage, making breathing not as easy as it should be.

And here’s a big one: fractures. The extra curve can stress your spine, making it more likely to break. It’s like a bridge that’s strained and might snap. It can change how you walk too, making you more likely to trip or fall. It’s like a wobbly dance move. Plus, if it becomes severe, it can be hard to climb stairs or get up from a chair without using your arms.

Your daily life might feel the effects of hyperkyphosis too. Things you used to do with ease might become harder. It’s like a puzzle where pieces don’t fit quite right.  And then, a serious note – it could even impact how long you live. The more severe the curve, the higher the chance of health problems. So, there you have it – hyperkyphosis isn’t just a curve, it’s a story with potential twists and turns.

Exercising Control: A Guided Approach to Taming Hyperkyphosis

How can you tame hyperkyphosis? First off, there’s exercise. A 2014 review study revealed that exercise modestly benefits hyperkyphosis. Another study found that spinal extension exercises can slow hyperkyphosis progression in women aged 50-59 years. It’s best to work with a physical therapist initially. Strengthening your back extensors, improving spinal extension mobility, and boosting awareness of how you stand and move are the goals.

If you have documented hyperkyphosis, it’s best to seek the help of a physical therapist. They may use postural correction training, where exercises stretch and strengthen to reduce the hyperkyphotic curve. Breathing exercises could also be in the mix, boosting lung capacity and getting you ready for action.

In some cases, a physical therapist may recommend taping or a brace to help nudge the curve angle in the right direction. Beyond back and core strengthening, stretching the pectorals, shoulders, and upper back can help too.

Rewriting the Narrative: Empowering Change for Hyperkyphosis

Armed with a strategic plan, you can reclaim control of your spine. Exercise, guided by experts, strengthens your back and improves mobility, while posture correction, breathing exercises, and specialized treatments can help you rewrite the narrative of hyperkyphosis. Keep strength training, sit less, and work on your posture to lower your risk of developing kyphosis. Don’t forget to stretch too!


  • “Hyperkyphosis: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment.” https://www.scoliosisreductioncenter.com/blog/hyperkyphosis.
  • “Kyphosis – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic.” 18 Jun. 2022, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kyphosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20374205.
  • Katzman WB, Wanek L, Shepherd JA, Sellmeyer DE. Age-related hyperkyphosis: its causes, consequences, and management. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010 Jun;40(6):352-60. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2010.3099. PMID: 20511692; PMCID: PMC2907357.
  • “Thoracic Hyperkyphosis – Physiopedia.” https://www.physio-pedia.com/Thoracic_Hyperkyphosis.

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