How to Avoid Upper Back Pain From Prolonged Sitting: Simple Steps to Avoid Future Thoracic Kyphosis
Have you ever had pain or discomfort in your upper back that would not go away because you slouched too much? You may be experiencing pain due to overall stiffness and rounding of the upper back, if continued this can be categorized as thoracic kyphosis - or excessive rounding of the upper back.
Recently, thoracic kyphosis has become more common, for people who sit in front of the computer for long periods of time. But there are certainly some ways to combat this, and possibly prevent it.
This article will talk about the habits that can lead to this condition and what you can do to avoid serious postural deficits.
What is Thoracic Kyphosis?
Thoracic kyphosis, also known as round back or hunchback, is a postural abnormality where the thoracic spine curves forward excessively. In a normal spine, this region has a slight natural curve, but in individuals with thoracic kyphosis, the curve is exaggerated, resulting in a rounded upper back.
There are several things that can cause this condition, including:
- Poor posture
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal fractures
- Congenital conditions
- Muscle pain all over upper body
Types of Thoracic Kyphosis
There are different types of thoracic kyphosis, depending on its cause and severity. Here are a few of the most typical kinds that you ought to be aware of:
Types of Thoracic Kyphosis
Excessive forward curvature of the upper spine due to poor posture, often reversible with corrective measures.
Rounded shoulders and upper back
Back pain, especially after prolonged sitting
Spine flexibility and alignment remain normal
A structural deformity characterized by wedged-shaped vertebrae, typically appearing during adolescence.
Visible rounding of the upper back
Fatigue and stiffness in the back
Back pain that worsens with physical activity
Abnormal spinal curvature present at birth due to vertebral malformation during fetal development.
Abnormal spinal alignment evident from infancy
Limited spine flexibility
Developmental delays in severe cases
Unusual forward curvature in the cervical (neck) region leading to an abnormal rounding of the back.
Forward head posture
Neck pain and stiffness
Potential neurological symptoms (e.g., tingling in arms)
Exaggerated forward curvature of the thoracic spine, often associated with aging or degenerative conditions.
Gradual rounding of the upper back
Back pain and stiffness
Reduced spine flexibility and mobility
Effects of Having Thoracic Kyphosis
Thoracic kyphosis can have several effects on the body, leading to pain and discomfort. Here are some of the common effects associated with thoracic kyphosis:
Pectoralis Minor Tightness
Pectoralis minor tightness is when the muscle located in the chest, known as the pectoralis minor, becomes tense or contracted. This muscle plays a role in the movement of the shoulder blade and the chest area. When it tightens, it can affect how our shoulders and upper body move, leading to various issues, such as:
- Shoulder Discomfort: Tightness in the pectoralis minor can lead to discomfort or pain in the shoulders.
- Limited Arm Movement: You may find it harder to move your arms freely, especially when reaching or lifting.
- Poor Posture: Pectoralis minor tightness can contribute to slouching or rounding of the shoulders, affecting overall posture.
- Difficulty Breathing: In some cases, tightness in this muscle can impact the ability to take deep breaths, leading to shallow breathing patterns.
Passive Weakness in Periscapular Muscles
Passive weakness in periscapular muscles is when the muscles around your shoulder blades (scapula), including the rhomboid, become less strong or active. These muscles are like the support team for your shoulder blades, helping them move and function properly.
When they become weak in a passive way, they might not be doing their job as well as they should, affecting their upper body movements. As a result, this leads to various issues, such as:
- Difficulty in lifting or moving the arms smoothly
- Increased stress on the neck and upper back
- Limited range of motion in the shoulders
- Challenges in performing overhead activities, like reaching for objects.
- Potential development of shoulder impingement due to compromised muscle support.
Involvement of Brachial Plexus
An area of nerves that runs from the neck to the upper limbs is called the brachial plexus. Imagine these nerves as messengers that help your spinal cord communicate with your arms. When the brachial plexus is involved, it can lead to various issues with arm function and sensation.
Here's how to know if your brachial plexus is affected:
Tingling or Numbness
Tingling or numbness in the arms may occur due to disrupted nerve signals. It can feel like a sensation of "pins and needles" or reduced feeling in the affected areas.
Weakness in Arm Muscles
The involvement of the brachial plexus can result in weakness in the muscles of the arms. This weakness may impact activities that require strength, such as lifting or carrying objects.
Pain or Discomfort
Individuals with brachial plexus involvement may experience pain or discomfort in the shoulders, arms, or hands. This pain can range from mild to severe, affecting daily activities.
Sensitivity changes may occur, leading to an abnormal perception of touch, temperature, or pressure. This altered sensation can affect the overall sense of touch in the arms and hands.
Upper Back and Spine Stiffness
Upper back and spine stiffness is when the part of your back between your neck and lower back feels tight and inflexible. It's like your back is less able to move comfortably, and you might notice it's harder to bend, twist, or turn. This stiffness can be linked to thoracic kyphosis, where the upper spine curves more than it should.
Signs of this thoracic kyphosis pain include:
Limited Range of Motion
Stiffness in the upper back and spine can reduce your ability to move your back comfortably, making it challenging to bend forward, backward, or sideways.
Discomfort or Pain
You may experience discomfort or pain in the upper back area due to the stiffness. This can range from mild aches to noticeable pain, especially after inactivity.
The muscles in the upper back may become tense, contributing to the overall feeling of stiffness. This tension can further limit your flexibility and comfort in that area.
How to Get Rid of Thoracic Kyphosis
To help you how to get rid of bad posture, such as tension in shoulders and neck symptoms, there are a few things you can do:
1. Try Rhomboid Exercises
The rhomboid muscles are located between your shoulder blades and play a crucial role in maintaining good posture. Weak rhomboid muscles can contribute to thoracic kyphosis. To strengthen these muscles, you can try the following each exercise to relieve pain in upper back:
Sit or stand with your arms by your sides. After that, squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you're trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold the squeeze for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times.
Lie on an exercise mat or a firm surface. Following that, put your arms straight out in front of you. Keeping your neck neutral, squeeze your shoulder blades together and lift your arms off the ground. Slowly bring them back down after holding for a few seconds. Do two or three sets of ten to twelve reps each.
2. Go for Lower Trap Exercises
The lower trapezius muscles, located in the middle of your back, help stabilize and retract your shoulder blades. Strengthening these muscles can aid in correcting thoracic kyphosis. Try the following exercises to target your lower traps:
Prone T Extension
- With your arms by your sides, lie on your back on a mat.
- Lift your chest off the ground while lifting your arms and forming a "T" shape.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your chest and arms back down.
- Do two or three sets of ten to twelve reps each.
- Holding a light dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- With your arms stretched out at an angle in front of you, make the shape of a "Y."
- Keeping your arms straight, lift them towards the ceiling while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Pause for a moment, then lower your arms back down.
- Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions.
3. Do Some Thoracic Extension Exercises
Thoracic extension exercises focus on increasing mobility and flexibility in the upper back, helping to counteract the rounded posture associated with thoracic kyphosis. That being said, incorporate the following exercises into your routine:
Foam Roller Thoracic Extension
Place a foam roller on the ground and sit on it with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean back over the foam roller, allowing it to arch your upper back gently. After that, extend your arms out to the sides for support. Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds, focusing on deep breathing and relaxing into the stretch. Repeat as desired.
Start on your hands and knees, with your arms straight out in front of you and your legs bent. As you inhale, arch your back and drop your belly towards the floor, lifting your head and tailbone. Then, exhale and round your back towards the ceiling, tucking your chin towards your chest. Repeat this sequence for 10 to 15 repetitions, moving slowly and with control.
4. Practice Pectoralis Stretch
Tight chest muscles can contribute to thoracic kyphosis by pulling the shoulders forward and rounding the upper back. Stretching the pectoralis muscles can help counteract this effect. With that in mind, try the following stretches:
Stand in a doorway with your arms bent at a 90-degree angle and forearms resting against the door frame. Step through the doorway, allowing your chest to stretch. You should feel a gentle pull across your chest and shoulders. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, breathing deeply and relaxing into the stretch.
Chest Opener Stretch
Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Interlace your fingers behind your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. After that, slowly lift your arms away from your body, keeping them straight. It should feel like your chest and shoulders are stretching. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then release.
5. Use Ergo-Brace Posture Corrector
The Ergo-Brace Posture Corrector is a unique wearable device to help you maintain a healthier posture. This product functions as a supportive brace that you can easily wear on your back, encouraging proper alignment of your spine and shoulders.
- Crafted to offer quick relief from upper back pain by providing strong support and encouraging a more upright posture.
- Address reduced muscle strength, promoting the development of a stronger upper body.
- Regular use offers the potential for a positive change in your overall body shape.
While not a replacement for spinal kyphosis treatment, the Ergo-Brace Posture Corrector is a one-of-a-kind device that can be worn. It may help reduce the health risks of sitting at a desk all day.
But let your doctor know if an Ergo-Brace Posture Corrector or a similar product might help ease the pain of your thoracic kyphosis. If you use these ergonomic products the right way, they can help you deal with nerve-related back pain.
6. Have Consistent Practice
Consistency is key to addressing thoracic kyphosis pain and improving your posture. To do that, set aside dedicated time each day or several times weekly to practice the exercises and strategies.
But do not forget to pay attention to your body and change things as needed.
Avoid Thoracic Kyphosis Pain with These Ergonomic Solution at Home
Without a doubt, preventing thoracic kyphosis pain is crucial for maintaining a healthy and pain-free lifestyle. By implementing these ergonomic solutions at home, you can proactively avoid thoracic kyphosis pain and promote better spinal health.
Remember, small adjustments can make a big difference in your overall well-being. Stay proactive in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and say farewell to thoracic kyphosis pain for good.