Kyphosis Exercises for a Round Upper Back

What is kyphosis?

A person is said to have kyphosis when their spine is excessively curved. Excessive curvature of the spine eventually causes a hump-like experience in the upper back.

According to a 2015 study published in Neurosurgery, over 20–40 percent of elderly adults' experience kyphosis. Most of the changes in the thoracic curve occur in women between 50 and 70 years of age.

Why is exercise important?

Combined with upper cervical chiropractic care, exercises can help improve your kyphosis.

According to a 2019 study review, exercise may positively benefit the thoracic kyphosis angle. In addition, the study suggested that stretching and strengthening could help correct thoracic kyphosis.

By VectorMine | Adobe Stock

What causes kyphosis?

The following are known causes of kyphosis:

  • Muscular weakness
  • Compression fractures
  • Degenerative changes
  • Altered movement patterns or biomechanics

Kyphosis may be associated with destructive movement patterns and poor posture. When you spend a lot of time in a flexed position, your head begins to assume a forward position. This will increase the weight and stress on your neck and spine. In addition, your head is designed to be directly above your body, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your ears.

Your back and neck become stronger when you practice proper posture and engage in good exercises, and you can lighten the load. This will give your spine a break.

Stretches and exercises for kyphosis

The five exercises listed in this article can help prevent or improve a rounded upper back. It is important to note that consistency is vital when performing these exercises. Repeat these exercises a minimum of three times per week. This will help you achieve the expected results.

Always consult an upper cervical chiropractor before starting an exercise routine, and pay close attention to your body. If a stretch or an exercise is causing pain, stop it and seek help immediately.

1. Mirror image

To do this exercise, do the opposite movement of the posture you want to correct.

  • Stand against a wall and stand tall.
  • Tuck your chin slightly and position your head back directly over your shoulders.
  • Put your shoulder blades back and down. Hold for at least 30 seconds and up to a minute. Take a break if you feel pain.

Here’s a video of how it is done:

Video demonstration of mirror image exercise

2. Head retraction

You’ll have to lie on the floor to perform this exercise. Head retraction is excellent for the neck muscles that are often weak and stretched out.

  • Pull your chin toward the floor as if trying to make a double chin.
  • Hold for 15 seconds, and then repeat a minimum of five times.

Here’s a video of how it is done:

Video demonstration of head retraction

3. Superman

  • Lie on your stomach, and extend your hands in front of your head.
  • Maintain your head in a neutral position, looking toward the floor, then lift both legs and arms toward the ceiling.
  • Feel like you are reaching far away from your body with your feet and hands. Hold for at least 3 seconds and repeat at least ten times.

Here’s a video of how it is done:

Video demonstration of superman

4. Life extension

Life extension exercise aims to stretch your chest muscles and strengthen the weak back muscles.

  • Stand tall with your core engaged, your knees soft, shoulder blades down and back, and your chest upright.
  • Raise your arms into a Y position. Your thumbs should be pointed behind you.
  • Take at least 2–3 deep breaths, and maintain your posture while exhaling.

Here’s a video of how it is done:

Video demonstration of Life Extension

5. Thoracic spine foam rolling

  • Place a foam roller on the floor and lie on it. The foam roller should be placed across your mid-back.
  • Roll up and down on the foam roller gently. By so doing, you’ll massage your back muscles and your thoracic spine.

Here’s a video of how it is done:

Video demonstration of thoracic spine foam rolling


By making a couple of changes to care for your posture and prevent kyphosis, you can reap the benefits for many years.

So, here’s an assignment: take a break from your computer and phone, practice good posture, and work toward improving your quality of life. Do not forget consistency is critical when beginning small changes to moving and stretching more.

Disclaimer: Dr. Berner does not diagnose, treat, or prevent any medical diseases or conditions; instead, he analyzes and corrects the structure of his patients with Foundational Correction to improve their overall quality of life. He works with their physicians, who regulate their medications. This blog post is not designed to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or services to you or any other individual. The information provided in this post or through linkages to other sites is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, consultation, or the advice of your physician or another healthcare provider. Foundation Chiropractic and Dr. Brett Berner are not liable or responsible for any advice, the course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other information, services, or product you obtain through this article or others.

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