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Physical Therapy for Kyphosis

What is kyphosis?
Kyphosis refers to the normal rounding of the upper back. Occasionally, people will have excessive rounding and in this case the rounding/kyphosis is referred to as hyperkyphosis (hyper = above normal). This rounding increases naturally as we age and there is no standard definition of hyperkyphosis versus normal changes associated with aging. An increase in kyphosis is more common in women than men. The cause of an increase in kyphosis is due to muscle weakness and impairments in flexibility/mobility. 

Common features of kyphosis:

  • Worsening in posture over time
  • Back pain
  • Limited spinal range of motions
  • Decreased walking speed
  • Balance impairments 
  • Difficulty breathing  (in more severe cases) 

How can Physical Therapy help Kyphosis?

Physical Therapy treatments include:

  • Manual therapy to improve the spines ability to bend backwards 
  • Exercises to strengthen muscles that keep spine more erect 
  • Stretching to address soft tissue restrictions contributing to the increase in rounding 
  • Addressing hip range of motion/flexibility impairments 


  1. Edmondston, S., Ferguson, A., Ippersiel, P., Ronningen, L., Sodeland, S., & Barclay, L. (2012). Clinical and Radiological investigation of Thoracic Spine Extension Motion during Bilateral Arm Elevation. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 42(10), 861–869. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2012.4164
  2. Katzman, W. B., Wanek, L., Shepherd, J. A., & Sellmeyer, D. E. (2010). Age-Related Hyperkyphosis: Its Causes, Consequences, and Management. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 40(6), 352–360. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.2010.3099
  3. Koelé, M. C., Lems, W. F., & Willems, H. C. (2020). The clinical relevance of hyperkyphosis: A narrative review. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 11. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2020.00005

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