Looked in the mirror one day and realised that there seems to be a hump at the base of your neck? That’s what Doctors usually call a “Dowager’s Hump” — originating from the meaning of the word “Dowager” which is an elderly lady! This is because the neck hump used to only be a problem for older women as the spine naturally undergoes ageing processes… But unfortunately, we are seeing it more and more often in younger people.
So why are we seeing it more frequently in young people? That can be explained with prolonged computer or phone usage. As your neck pokes forward more and more during long screen times when your neck & back muscles fatigue, it creates a counter-strain at the base of your neck. The spine there stiffens up to create a more ‘stable’ base of support for your protruding neck, hence creating the bump!
Although it does not bring any harm once it appears, it tells a very good story of what is happening to your spine under the skin and muscles: AGEING. Prolonged stress on the spine which causes the Dowager’s Hump is going to fasten the ageing process, and may cause further problems as you get older (slipped discs, nerve compression, muscle imbalances).
Here are three stretches to do daily to increase the mobility in the mid-back and strengthen the spine to prevent the hump from getting worse!
Wall extension stretch – 10 repetitions
- Put both hands on the wall. Keeping your back straight, hinge your hips backwards and slowly drop your chest down to the floor.
- Don’t allow your head to drop down towards the floor. Keep it tucked in, aligned with your spine.
- You should feel the stretch in your chest and mid-back.
- This will stretch out tight muscles in your chest and mobilise the stiff spine in your mid-back.
Seated neck tucks – 5 repetitions, 10 second hold
- Seated against the wall, push your head back against the wall.
- Elongate your head to the ceiling and keep your chin tucked in (like you’re creating a double chin)!
- This will engage & strengthen the small muscles in your neck which will help to keep your head upright when you’re working at the computer, putting less strain on your spine.
Mid-back rotations with chin tucks – 10 repetitions, Right and Left
- Sitting straight, place your hands behind your head. Push your head towards your palms, creating a chin tuck like the exercise above.
- While maintaining the chin tuck, rotate your body to the right.
- You should feel the stretch in your mid-back, and the muscles at the base of your neck activating. Repeat to the left.
- This combines a stretch of the stiff spine (where the hump comes from), and engages the muscles at the top of the neck (to strengthen the neck) — you get the best of both worlds.
Perform these exercises morning and night daily, and you’ll be able to see a difference as you keep consistent with it. If you’re finding it hard to do right, or are feeling pain while doing these exercises, contact us for an appointment (in person or online)!