Lumbar kyphosis: what to do? (which exercises?)

We hear by lumbar kyphosis, a postural anomaly that affects both the aesthetics and the normal functioning of the back. Aesthetically speaking, it is a bump ou arch in the lower back which characterizes an aging spine.


Does it matter to have the curved back ? Is there a way to correct or at least prevent this anomaly? Answers in this article.

Definition and anatomy


To better understand this anomaly, it is necessary to know the anatomy of a normal spine.


spine anatomy


Front view, the spine looks straight. But, when viewed in profile, it is provided with four bends physiological: two kyphosis, And two lordosis.


The kyphotic curvatures are called primary because they are the first curvatures that form during fetal development. They are convex and curved outwards from the body. We distinguish :


  • Thoracic kyphosis, which include the vertebrae from T1 to T12
  • A sacral or sacro-coccygeal kyphosis, which includes the sacrum and the coxal bone.


The lordotic curves are called secondary because of their late onset after birth. They are concave and curved towards the abdominal wall. We distinguish :


  • A cervical lordosis, comprising the stacking of 7 C1-C7 cervical vertebrae.
  • A lumbar lordosis, composed of 5 vertebrae L1-L5


These curvatures are important for the proper functioning of the spine. They make it possible to maintain the balance of the body, and confer on the back the properties of flexibility and shock absorption.



Lumbar kyphosis: what is it?


La lumbar kyphosis ou lumbar degenerative kyphosis is a pathological condition of the spine. This is a postural anomaly affecting the lumbar spine which is characterized byerasure partial or total of its physiological lordosis.


First described by Takamestu et al, this condition is a form of flat back syndrome, and is considered a degenerative imbalance affecting the sagittal plane (antero-posterior) of the lumbar spine.


Takemitsu described four types of lumbar kyphosis:


lumbar kyphosis


  • Type 1: corresponds to a decrease in lumbar lordosis and sacral kyphosis (sacral pontine <35°), with preservation of the overall balance of the back.
  • Type 2: Greater decrease in lumbar lordosis, compensated by a moderate inversion of the dorsal kyphosis (dorsal lordosis).
  • Type 3 : inversion of lumbar lordosis with compensatory dorsal kyphosis (global kyphosis). Loss of balance in the back with moderate leaning forward, the subject leans on both knees to regain his balance.   
  • Type 4 ; corresponds to the stage of comptocormie, which is defined by a total loss of the overall balance of the back with projection of the back forward drawing a thoraco-lumbar curvature (Yousure).


The causes of lumbar kyphosis


The development of a lumbar kyphosis can have multiple causes. These are the cause of lumbar kyphosis in both children and adults.


The causes of lumbar kyphosis in children can be, among others:


  • The repetition of incorrect positions of the child during sleep, especially during infancy;
  • Disorders of psychomotor development delaying the start of walking;
  • Significant pressure on the lower back due to the heavy load of the backpack
  • The recurrence of incorrect positions at the desk in older children
  • Original lumbar kyphosis congenital



In adults, in addition to the excessive load factor and the adoption of bad positions, other causes can be the origin of lumbar kyphosis, namely:


  • THEosteoporosis: whether senile or corticosteroid-induced, osteoporosis makes the bones of the spine soft and brittle, which promotes a tendency to loss of curvature and displacement of the vertebrae
  • A hyperkinesis responsible for excessive mobility of the spine
  • A significant deficit in mineral salts and calcium
  • Inflammation and chronic edemas which are seen in particular in the disc pinching and herniated disc
  • The formation of a scar as a result of back trauma or injury



Symptoms of lumbar kyphosis 


It is very common for this anomaly to be discovered fortuitously without the patient even having the slightest symptom or discomfort.  


However, in the vast majority of patients, kyphosis is diagnosed at an advanced stage (types 3 and 4), that is, when the problem becomes more functional than aesthetic.


When examining a patient with kyphosis, the doctor should look for other symptoms or even complications that could help support the diagnosis, namely:  


sacral pain


  • Lower back pain of variable intensity, depending on the type of kyphosis and the importance of its impact on the neurological level
  • Yousure ou bump at the lumbar level, or thoraco-lumbar reflecting the inversion of the lumbar lordosis
  • Considerable change in the morphology of the abdomen, which arises following the direction of the lumbar kyphosis
  • Reorganization of the anatomy of the lumbar vertebrae which, under the impact of the curvature, will compress the intervertebral discs and these in turn compress the adjacent nerve roots. What is often responsible for herniated disc
  • Uncomfortable ou stiffness during movements.


Kyphosis lumbar: what treatment to recommend?


To correct lumbar kyphosis, several therapeutic approaches can be used.


  • Drug treatment including analgesics (Paracetamol, anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, etc.) to reduce the intensity of low back pain
  • Sessions of physiotherapy (physiotherapy) orosteopathy
  • Certain sports activities that promote lumbar extension such as: gymnastics, swimming, ballet, etc.
  • Alternative therapies such as yoga,acupuncture, reflexology, etc.
  • Wearing a corset or an lumbar belt
  • La surgery which is indicated only in extreme cases, in the event of non-response to the conservative treatments aroused.


Here is a series of 5 effective exercises that you can perform alone at home:

Exercise 1: Abdominal breathing (yogic)


  1. Get into the lotus position 
  2. Start inhaling slowly and deeply while filling the stomach and chest with air
  3. Exhale, releasing as much air from your lungs and stomach as possible, so that you feel your rib cage drop and your belly deflate
  4. Without distracting yourself, slowly repeat this breathing cycle about ten times


Exercise 2: Strong Chest


  1. Adopt a position lying on your stomach
  2. Arms crossed or outstretched, stare at a point in front of you
  3. Raise your torso slightly off the floor, while lifting your arms and legs off the floor in parallel
  4. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds, then let go.


To be repeated ideally 20 times  


Exercise 3: Cobra Pose


  1. Stand in a prone position with your legs and feet together
  2. You must place both arms outstretched on the floor, palms flat
  3. Pressing with your straight arms, pelvis and legs glued to the floor, try to lift the upper half of your body as much as possible
  4. Once in the extension position, breathe in the same way as in exercise 1
  5. Hold this position for 3 breathing cycles


Repeat this process up to 20 times


Exercise 4: Cat Pose


  1. Stand on all fours
  2. Make sure your hands and legs are firmly planted on the floor
  3. Now focus all your attention on your breath.
  4. By inhaling and then exhaling slowly, you will feel your stomach go in
  5. By doing so, your belly will sink in more and your back will arch.
  6. Keep breathing, raise your head as if looking up and your back will arch in the opposite direction


You can repeat these maneuvers as many times as you are comfortable


Exercise 5: Standing pliers


  1. At the start, stand up with your legs firmly planted on the ground and your arms alongside your body.
  2. Bend over, gently bending your back forward
  3. Without bending your knees, grab the balls of your feet or your ankles with your hands (depending on your flexibility)
  4. Hold this position while breathing deeply for 20 seconds.


Repeat this exercise 3 to 4 times a day


Obviously, this article does not include all the exercises to straighten a hunchback. Today, the web is full of sites devoted to physio and yoga exercises, but do not forget that each patient is a special case. It is therefore preferable to contact a health professional. This will give you the benefit of an individualized assessment and a tailor-made program.  



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