Apr 2017 22

Getting the hump

By: Dave Wheeler

You can't have failed to see some older people bent over a little with what look like a hump on their back. It's called a Widow's Hump (or  in some English Speaking countries a Dowager's Hump).

It's a big bump at the bottom  of your neck - it affects men and women and is something that gets worse as you get older.

But it's not jut for the old! This week a 40 year old gym-goer came in for treatment who had the start of one forming.

 

What is the widow's hump?

It's a deformation of the cervical spine.

The "hump" itself is made of fatty tissue that accumulates around that area of the spine that's been pulled out of its normal place.

 

The cause of the widow's hump

It's reckoned that around ⅔ of the incidence of widows hump is down to poor posture.

I've talked before about the head forward posture: which these days is pretty much all of us (from driving, from working on our laptops, from reading, generally from 21st Century living).

If your head is forward, then the muscles at the back of the neck become as strong as those of my Greyhound... strong enough to support your head when it's permanently thrust forward.

Remember that it's the job of muscles to pull on bones. If one set of muscles becomes way stronger than it should, then it'll start to pull on bones in the way that it shouldn't.

So the muscles at the back of the neck start to put unnecessary strain on the back of the neck - specifically pulling at the spine where those muscles originate.

 

Should you be worried?

2 things:

  1. Feel round to the base of your neck. Can you feel a big hard fatty lump? If so, be worried.
  2. How far forward is you head? If you look like this - be worried....

 

This  is Bobby, yeah, I know he's cute - but you really don't want to look like him. His neck extensors are built to keep his head this far forward. Yours aren't!

 

Can the widow's hump be fixed?

That depends... it can certainly be stopped from getting any worse. It might even possible with posture correction and treatment to reduce it a little - it might!

Fixing your posture by getting your head back into the neutral position is the biggest thing that you can do to help yourself. It requires work and patience (in most cases you're trying to reverse a lifetime of  bad posture habits). But if you keep at it,  you'll stop the bump from becoming a hump.