Todd Kuslikis

Todd Kuslikis

MMT, MPA
Knee Pain Specialist and Injury Prevention Expert

Cause of Buffalo Hump on Back of the Neck and Its Powerful Solution

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On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being perfect posture, what number would you give yourself? We all have an idea of what good posture is, but it can be surprisingly hard to maintain correct posture during the day. In fact, you may feel like you have poor posture and have developed a buffalo/neck hump – also known as a Dowager’s Hump, Buffalo Hump, or hunchback position.

 

Don’t worry, we’ll talk about powerful solutions to help get rid of a neck hump and improve your posture.

 

What is a Dowagers Hump/Buffalo Hump?

Now you should feel part of your spine poking out at the base of your neck – that’s your bottom cervical vertebrae C7 – and you should feel some curvature to your neck. These are natural, but what can tend to happen is that over time with bad posture our head can move further and further forward leading to a hump on the back of the neck.

 

See images below for healthy posture compared to a Buffalo Hump on neck.

Buffalo hump

 

Ultimately, the hump come from increased curvature in the spine and the needing to tilt your head up since your head is further forward. Keep in mind, each inch your head leans forward is 10 extra pounds of force on your neck. This is why you may have noticed increased neck pain, headaches, shoulder pain, and even low back pain!

 

What causes Buffalo Hump/Dowagers Hump/Neck Hump on the Back of Neck?

Buffalo Hump Caused by Poor Posture

The most common cause for this condition comes from poor posture over the years. Especially now with many of us spending more time at home and on electronic devices. Even now writing this I can notice myself leaning forward and needing to reset my posture!

 

What happens is that our arms are often in front of our body and we’re looking down at electronic devices/books/what we’re cooking/knitting/etc. This position leads to a forward head rounded shoulders posture. Over time this posture can lead to a neck hump.

 

Another causes could be osteoporosis where compression fractures lead to more curvature in your spine. If you’re concerned that you have osteoporosis reach out to your primary care physician for testing.

 

How do you get rid of a Buffalo Hump on your neck?

 

Correct Posture to Overcome Buffalo Hump

The first step is to focus on your posture. You can do all the strengthening and stretching you want, but if you spend 10 hours a day slouching you can’t undo the neck hump. Just like eating one piece of broccoli doesn’t balance out eating a bag of candy, you have to keep good posture in mind all day to solve the problem.

 

Good posture involves standing or sitting with ears above your shoulders. As we discussed our head tends to come forward leading to a neck hump, so you want to work on bringing your head back into correct alignment.

 

Check in with yourself throughout the day to reset your posture. One way to do this is to place sticky notes next to your computer with reminders or set up reminders on your phone.

 

You may have seen some posture braces online, but here’s our warning about that: your muscles aren’t working when you use the brace. Using a posture brace allows weak muscles to stay weak because they aren’t doing the work, the brace is. For a lifelong change it’s better to actively use your muscles and form good posture habits.

 

So if the brace isn’t the best solution, what are you supposed to do? Here are some exercises to improve your posture and reduce your neck hump.

 

Three Exercises to Reduce a Buffalo Hump:

 

Chin Tucks

Chin Tuck

  • Sit or stand upright and look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders. Think of a string pulling from the base of your spine, through the crown of your head, and finally to the ceiling.

 

  • Place a finger on the chin. Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back — as if another string is pulling the back of your head to the wall behind you — until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. Hold for 5 seconds if possible.

 

  • Bring the chin forward again to meet the finger where you left it.

 

  • Repeat 5 times every day.

 

 

Scapular Retraction

Spacular Retraction | Feel Good Life

  •   Start by sitting in a sturdy chair.

 

  •   Sit up tall with good posture — ears above shoulders, shoulders above hips.

 

  •   Draw your shoulder blades down and back. You will feel your chest stretch and open and your back muscles engage.

 

  •   Complete three sets of 10 every day.

 

 

Chest Stretch in the Door:

Chest Stretch

  • Place forearms on either side of your door frame. You’ll look like you’re making a goal post sign with your arms.

 

  • Step forward with one foot (doesn’t matter which) and shift your weight forward till you feel a pull in your chest.

 

  • Hold for 30 seconds then relax. Repeat two more times.

 

  • You can also perform this stretch one arm at a time if it feels like too much to do both at once.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Don’t worry if you think you have a neck hump, this is something you can work on and help improve with good posture and exercises. If you’re concerned about performing exercises correctly reach out to your primary care physician and speak to them about trying physical therapy to perfect and progress exercises. This may help you improve the number you gave yourself for the 1-10 posture score.

 Also check out a video for YTWL exercises to help reduce your neck hump.

 

Try out the tips from the article and from the video and comment if the exercises have helped you!

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