When a person develops kyphosis, the posture becomes stooped or hunched. The back also becomes stiff and difficult to straighten. Figure 1 shows that bending forward compresses (squeezes) the front of the spine. This makes it more likely to break a bone in the spine. The figure also shows that leaning or bending backward separates the spine and reduces the chance of a broken bone.
Note the area of “strain” (in Figure 1) may cause muscle discomfort. This figure shows that a person with osteoporosis can gently lean back to comfortably stretch out and strengthen the back.
Try the following two exercises to keep your spine more limber and flexible. This will help you to hold your back straight. These exercises can also make your bones stronger.
To reduce tightness in your spine and the muscles of your neck and upper back.
To help get your head lined up over your shoulders rather than stooped forward.
Sit with your middle and lower back well-supported in a chair.
Move your head straight back as far as possible.
Keep your chin level with the floor and look straight ahead. Do not tilt your chin or forehead.
Hold your head back in this position for 3 or 4 seconds.
Then relax back into your normal posture for a second or two.
Now repeat 5 times. Do this exercise several times a day.
To stretch your spine and muscles for greater flexibility and movement.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your buttocks against a counter or heavy table that won’t move.
Place your hands at your waist. Pinch your shoulder blades back as if you are trying to squeeze a pencil between them. Then lean back slightly but stay comfortable.
Your head should stay in its normal position. The underneath part of the chin should be level with the ground. Your eyes should be looking straight ahead.
Hold for a slow count of 5.
Then relax back into your normal posture.
Now repeat 5 times.
Repeat several times daily.
NOF thanks Richard Baldwin, P.T., for contributing to this article. Mr. Baldwin is owner and director of Downeast Rehabilitation Associates in Rockport, ME. He is the osteoporosis support group leader of the NOF Coastal Support Group and an NOF health professional member.