3 Ways to Fix A Neck Hump And Hunchback

If you've got a slumped posture that has turned into a hunched look, we've got ways to reverse it. Here's how to fix a hunchback.
Vertebra of the neck

I am a live performance musician, and often, there are video clips from those performances that I can review and share on social media. One of the first times I saw myself on video exiting the stage, I was aghast at my walk and said, “I’m walking like a sasquatch!” It was partly funny, but I found it more disturbing than humorous. I had no idea I had adopted this slightly hunched-over, leaned-forward type of stride when I walked.

I remember being told as a kid that hunching over when you walk would lead to the dreaded “hunchback” that nobody ever wanted. This was something that I mainly observed in the elderly, but there were also times I’d see a younger person with a bump toward the top of their neck, possibly caused by an extra fat pad in that area at the top of the back, but I wasn’t sure. I had to ask myself, “Are a neck hump and hunchback the same thing, or are they related?”

Neck Hump Vs. Hunchback

neck hump, hunchback, hunched neck, neck pain

Once I started to glean information about the difference between neck hump and hunchback, I learned about something called Dowager’s Hump. Dowager’s Hump is an outward curvature of the thoracic vertebrae of the upper back. It appears as a rounded hunch that many people refer to as a hunchback. Along with the rounded hunch, which is, in fact, at the base of the neck, Dowager’s Hump has a forward head posture where your head is jutting forward.

The 7th Cervical Vertebrae

Buffalo hump

The 7th vertebrae are the most prominent vertebrae at the base of your neck. The C7 has a large spinous process that protrudes toward the skin at the back of the neck. This is the bony structure that we all feel protruding at the base of our neck, which is why it is often the one we think about or “interact” with the most.

What happens to some people as their neck and shoulders round forward that C7 vertebrae become a bit more pronounced? In response to those more pronounced vertebrae, the body will start to lay down fat to protect that area. The combination of these two things is what creates that neck hump or hunchback look. This is also doubly pronounced when a person’s head is lurching forward due to bad posture.

Here are some of the common things that cause bad posture:

  • Injury and muscle guarding
  • Muscle tension and muscle weakness
  • Daily habits that lead to bad posture, such as desk work, computer work, technology use with computers and phones
  • Mental attitude and stress
  • Shoe choice, high heels, uncomfortable shoes or shoes that are too small, no or low arch support
  • Heredity and genetics
  • Excess weight
neck pain caused by desk work

How To Fix Or Reverse Neck Hump And Hunchback

In the video below, I will walk you through the exact stretches and exercises you can do to reverse or eliminate the neck hump. Incorporate this series into your fitness routine at least 3 to 5 times per week. The rolling and stretching can be done multiple times daily and from anywhere with little to no equipment. You will immediately notice an improvement in your posture, and with consistency, you will see the visual differences as your body adapts to better posture. Over time, the visible curvature of the vertebrae will improve or possibly be gone entirely.

1. Mobilize the vertebrae

Mobilization of the vertebrae involves pressure on the vertebra that can increase the joint range of motion and relieve pain and stiffness.

  • Lay on a foam roller. Work this exercise in multiple times a day if possible

2. Stretch tight muscles

neck pain, vertebra

Stretching keeps the muscles in good condition by increasing flexibility and reducing joint stiffness. It is also essential to your health and recovery if you have suffered an injury or experienced pain. The neck, shoulders, and back muscles are used countless times throughout the day so bad posture can have detrimental effects. Stretching helps retrain the muscles to achieve better posture.

  • Doorway stretch (mid then high. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 3 times)
  • Pulling arms behind back
  • Shoulder rolls

3. Strengthen the muscles

Studies show that you can often improve or reverse neck hump by strengthening your upper back and neck muscles. Increasing muscle tone helps pull up your shoulders and your head.

  • Diagonal band stretch
  • Wall pushup
  • Forearm plank

Bonus Exercise For Eliminating Neck Hump And Hunchback

The reverse cable fly is one of my all-time favorite exercises for working my lower neck and upper back. Typically, I demonstrate exercises that can be done with little to no equipment or with accessories that are easily portable. However, if you can access a gym with a cable machine, this exercise is perfect for the lower neck and upper back. Having the weight stack in the cable machine also allows you to begin with less weight if you’re new to this movement and then work your way up as you become stronger.

Additional Tools To Correct Neck Hump

In addition to mobilization, stretches, and muscle exercises, you may find it helpful to incorporate these additional tools to correct your posture.

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