T Nation

Lifting with a Spinal Deformity - Hunchback?


Hey there. I’ve been out of the gym for a little over a year due to back and shoulder pain. My shoulders were popping and I couldn’t lift my arms above 90 degrees in front of my body. I went to the doctor complaining about the pain and he sent me in for x-rays. Turns out I have a rare spine condition called Sheuermann’s kyphosis - essentially a permanent hunchback posture. My vertebrae fused during a growth spurt in puberty and caused it. The kyphosis (upper curve) in normal spines is 15-30 degrees and mine is 62 degrees. It’s pretty noticeable but only if I bend over or lean forward.

I had been lifting this whole time with it and eventually it caught up to me. My form wasn’t great and it would explain why I couldn’t balance correctly while doing squats. Now that I’ve been inactive for almost two years it has gotten worse and I have trouble walking up an incline because I have no activation in my glutes or core. My shoulders are forward and I have neck and back pain. My shoulders are much better pain wise than when I was lifting but I’m afraid of re-injuring them. I was sent to PT for my back and that helped a bit but it didn’t include any weights. It was just stretches and yoga poses.

Problem is I really like lifting weights and it helps me with confidence outside of the gym. The muscle also helped hide my hunchback which I’m insecure of now. I want to get back in the gym and start lifting again but I don’t know if it’s even safe to do so. My doctor has no idea about lifting so I didn’t ask him. I at least want to start improving my posture to the best of my ability and start doing exercises for my shoulders so I can start lifting again. I will never have a perfect posture because of my spinal deformity but I want to have the best posture I possibly can have so I can at least lift again and be more confident. It’s hard to be confident in yourself if you’re walking around all day hunched over.

If you were in my position what would you do and where would you start? I have no idea where to even begin. Should I correct my posture to the best of my ability and then I can start lifting again or is lifting not in the cards for me if my spine is curved this much?

Also, I’ve looked at the heal that hunchback and neanderthal no more protocols from this site was wondering if those would help someone with a permanent hunchback. Maybe I should do those routines? Thanks


I think your condition is so rare nobody has experience with, it is good you want to lift as i myself feel better when i lift.
The only thing i can come up with was 10 years ago at the gym their was a guy who was early 50,s had hunchback, and when he trained he wore a single ply squat suit.
I asked him if he was a powerlifter , and he said no his erector muscle were so weak he had to wear suit to do standing curls, cable rows etc.
I dont know if this will help at all but keep looking on ways to train.