How to correct exaggerated spine curvature
June 27, 2011 1:44 PM   Subscribe

For those of you who have had success with treating kyphosis and the like: I have postural kyphosis. I do a lot of muscle exercises and stretching to correct my posture and have actually gained 1.5 inches in height but my spine still has a very exaggerated curve. I think I have the muscular side covered but are there any skeletal manipulations I could be doing ie. chiro adjustments that will help lessen the exaggerated curvature?

I know nothing of osteopaths and I don't want to go with a brace if I don't have to because then my posture muscles will atrophe. Should I just roll my upper back on one of those foam cylinders once in a while?
posted by dino terror to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As is often noted here on the green, chiropractors are not doctors, and can do things that will harm you in the long term (even if they might feel good in the short term).

Orthopedists and physical therapists however? Highly recommended. Make appointments with them for assistance.
posted by brainmouse at 2:26 PM on June 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have moderate kyphosis, probably not as bad as yours, and I've been quite happy with the exercises/stretches prescribed by the local Egoscue Clinic. You don't say what exactly you're doing for exercises (although you're happy with your current program), but if you haven't tried these I'd recommend them. If you prefer a DIY approach, Pete Egoscue has written some books; Pain Free is probably the best place to start. (I started by getting it from the library because my back was hurting and the recommended exercises helped the pain so much I went to the clinic to see if they could help with my lousy posture, which is the root problem.)

Long ago in a fit of open-mindedness I tried a chiropractor and had no improvement so I can't recommend that approach. I haven't really shopped around too much - the Egoscue stuff works so well for me I basically stopped looking once I found it.

They don't do any manipulations; it's all stuff you can do by and for yourself (and they agree 100% about braces causing muscle atrophy). Nothing so far has involved foam rollers; although a few of the exercise positions do straighten the upper back considerably, nothing really forces it. At most you just lie flat on the floor with your legs up.

Your question is more about skeletal manipulations, but I'm a little dubious about those. What's supposed to keep your skeleton in proper form? Muscles, of course. Anyway, if you don't want to try the Egoscue approach (or you're already doing it), I'd suggest a visit to a physical therapist as your next stop. They can probably help you "level up" your exercises and refer you to an orthopedist or whatever, if they think it will help. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 3:44 PM on June 27, 2011

"Having the muscular side covered" should be 100% of the solution (unless you were born with a genetic skeletal condition such as Scheuermann's disease, and that would be readily diagnosable and require major surgery).

Any force applied in order to somehow shift or re-align the skeletal structure will only meet resistance from the soft tissues anyway. At best it would result in a temporary abatement of the dysfunction, but it would be a symptomatic fix that would quickly disappear once your muscles' usual length-tension relationships reassert themselves.

Absolutely no amount of brute forcing, say, the thoracic vertebrae into a better position is going to affect the muscular agonist/antagonist imbalances that are causing your posture to be in misalignment, and the risks associated with doing so are significant.

Not to be too harsh but that you're even considering skeletal manipulation as a possible solution hints at a misapprehension of the basic principles of postural anatomy. It really is all about the interplay of muscular tensions. Don't ever let anybody tell you --or charge you money for-- anything different.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 4:28 PM on June 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the tips, I'll start by looking into the Ecoscue thing!
posted by dino terror at 9:43 AM on June 28, 2011

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