Effects of Corrective Exercise for Thoracic Hyperkyphosis on Posture, Balance, and Well-Being in Older Women: A Double-Blind, Group-Matched Design

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Abstract

Background and Purpose:

The purpose of this study was to identify the effects of a corrective exercise for thoracic hyperkyphosis on posture, balance, and well-being in Korean community-dwelling older women.

Methods:

Fifty women 65 years of age and older, recruited from 2 senior centers, participated in this study. Participants were assigned to either the experimental group (EG) or the control group (CG) on the basis of convenience of location, and 22 in each were analyzed. Participants in the EG underwent a thoracic corrective exercise program 1 hour each session, twice per week for 8 weeks (a total of 16 sessions), which consisted of specific exercises to enhance breathing, thoracic mobility and stability, and awareness of thoracic alignment. The CG received education on the same thoracic corrective exercise program and a booklet of the exercises. Outcome measures included the extent of postural abnormality (angle of thoracic kyphosis, kyphosis index calculated both in relaxed- and best posture using flexicurve, the ratio of the kyphosis index calculated best posture/relaxed posture, craniovertebral angle, and tragus-to-wall distance), balance (Short Physical Performance Battery and limit of stability), and well-being (Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form and the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey [SF-36]). All data were collected by 6 blinded assessors at baseline, at 8 weeks after the completion of intervention, and at 16 weeks for follow-up.

Results and Discussion:

For participants of the EG, means of all parameters showed significant improvements over time (P < .05), with improved values both in comparison of baseline to postintervention and baseline to follow-up. Means of CG parameters were significantly improved in only the angle of thoracic kyphosis and the tragus-to-wall distance (P < .05). Furthermore, in all parameters, percent change between baseline and postintervention data was significantly (P < .05) higher for the EG than that for the CG, except for the limit of stability and SF-36 which improved but not significantly. All parameters between baseline and follow-up data were significantly (P < .05) higher for the EG than those for the CG, except for the limit of stability.

Conclusions:

The findings of this study suggest that a well-designed exercise program may be beneficial to improve spinal posture, balance, and well-being in older women with thoracic hyperkyphosis. We recommend the use of the therapeutic strategies utilized in this study to enhance thoracic posture, balance, and well-being of older women with thoracic hyperkyphosis. Future research is needed to apply this exercise protocol on a larger and more diverse population.

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