If you sit at a desk a lot, frequently carry a heavy backpack, don’t get enough physical activity or have poor posture you could be at risk for kyphosis, also known as hunchback. Below, personal trainer Sarah Mahoney describes kyphosis, and demonstrates 3 of her favorite exercises for preventing the condition.

Kyphosis is a forward rounding of the upper back and is very common. It can happen for many reasons, including those described above as well as developmental issues, older age, abnormal vertebrae shape, or just weakness in the core muscles and upper back. It is particularly common among older women, often related to osteoporosis. Some people may experience upper back pain and stiffness. Others may have no symptoms other than an exaggerated forward rounding of the back.

You can prevent or improve kyphosis/hunchback by exercising regularly, avoiding slouching, using quality backpacks that evenly spread weight across your back, and participating in physical activity that improves muscle strength and function.

My 3 favorite exercises to prevent kyphosis/hunchback and strengthen back and abdominal muscles are:

  • Shoulder Squeeze: Stand tall with feet hip width apart. Pull your elbows back and down and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Imagine you have a nut between your shoulder blades and you are cracking it! Try for 3 sets of 10 reps.


  • Bird Dog: Start on all fours with hands below shoulders and knees below hips. Engage your abdominal muscles with spine and neck neutral. Extend right arm and left leg out. Go for length, not height here! Return to starting position and repeat for left arm/right leg. Try for 3 sets of 6.

  • Dead Bug: Lie on your back with knees bent and stacked over your hips, arms straight up. Brace your core and press your lower back to the floor. Straighten your left leg out, and at the same time, bring your right arm to the floor without touching, then pull both back to center. Repeat with right leg/left arm. Try for 3 sets of 6.

Try these exercises to avoid the dreaded hunchback! If you have any questions about these or other exercises you can do to strengthen your back and core, don’t hesitate to check with our training staff. We are here to help!