neck hump

Banish the neck hump: exercises to improve pain and posture

pt HealthPhysiotherapy

Man with head facing down while texting

Neck hump or hunchback are terms used for a condition properly called kyphosis. This postural change, which results in the appearance of a hump at the base of the neck can be uncomfortable, cause pain and affect overall physical functioning.

Poor posture is the main cause, (think “text neck” or forward head posture) and leads to weakness and elongation of the muscles in the upper back and the front of the neck and tightness or shortening of the muscles of the chest and back of neck. Other contributing factors can include osteoporosis, degenerative changes in the spine, obesity, or other underlying health or medical conditions.

Over time, this condition can contribute to back, neck or shoulder pain, stiffness in the upper back and shoulders, tightness in the back of the thighs (hamstrings), headaches, or fatigue. If severe enough, individuals may experience acid reflux, trouble swallowing, or issues with breathing.  Others may even experience reduced mobility and ability to engage in everyday activities such as getting up from sitting, reaching an elevated shelf, and walking.

Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy posture. Performing postural exercises is a great way to help maintain proper posture. Equally important is being aware of your posture when using electronic devices, doing desk work, and while driving.

If the condition has developed, correcting your posture, along with doing the proper exercises, may help gradually reduce its prominence and the effects of associated symptoms.

Check out these exercises to help prevent or reduce the condition: 

1. Chin tuck  

Stand or sit up tall.  Focus on an object at eye level while slowly moving your head back over your shoulders and tuck your chin in. Gently guide the movement with your hand on your chin. Hold for 3 seconds then relax and return to the initial position. Repeat 5-10 times, 3 times per day. 

2. Shoulder blade squeeze 

In sitting or standing, tuck your chin in slightly and keep your spine tall. With your arms relaxed by your side squeeze your shoulder blades back, down and together. Hold for 3 seconds then relax and return to the initial position. Repeat 5-10 times, 3 times per day. 

3. Chest stretch in doorway   

Stand in a doorway with your forearms on each side of the door with your elbows at shoulder height and bent to 90 degrees. Position your feet in a stride stance, one foot in front of the other, shoulder width apart.  Slowly step through the doorway keeping your chest upright until you feel a gentle pulling sensation in the chest.  Hold the stretch position for 30-60 seconds while focusing on relaxing your body and continuing to breathe in a relaxed manner.  Repeat 3-5 times, 3 times per day. 

4. Wall angels  

Stand or sit on the floor with your back and buttocks against the wall. Position your shoulders and elbows in a 90-degree bend and place your head (chin in), shoulders, elbows and wrists against the wall or as close to the wall as you can. Keeping as much of the body as possible in contact with the wall, slowly slide your arms upward along the wall.  Breath normally during movement and slowly return to the initial position.  Repeat 10-15 times, 1-3 times per day. 

A Lifemark clinician can help 

To schedule an appointment, contact a pt Health clinic near you or book an appointment online.

This blog originally appeared on and was written by Krista McIntyre, Reg. PT., M.Sc.PT., H.B.K., National Director of Program Development, Specialty Services.


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