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JFSF Vol 8, No 3, September 2023, p.174-187

doi: 10.22540/JFSF-08-174


Review Article

Does stretching of anterior structures alone, or in combination with strengthening of posterior structures, decrease hyperkyphosis and improve posture in adults? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Rebecca A. Withers, C. Ryanne Plesh, Dawn A. Skelton

  • Research Centre for Health (ReaCH), Department of Physiotherapy and Paramedicine, School of Health & Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, UK

Keywords: Adults, Exercise, Hyperkyphosis, Posture, Stretching


Kyphosis can lead to back pain, poor posture, and increased falls risk. This systematic review aimed to synthesize research on stretching alone, or in combination with strengthening, as a management for hyperkyphosis in the adult population (≥18 years old). An electronic database search was conducted from February to March 2022. The author and an independent reviewer screened titles and abstracts for inclusion criteria - those whose intervention involved stretching alone or with strengthening exercises. The author appraised and extracted data from included articles and performed a meta-analysis where appropriate. The database and citation search yielded 327 articles, 18 of which met inclusion criteria. One study included performed stretching as a standalone intervention; the remainder used a combination of stretching and strengthening. The meta-analysis (n=3, with 5 exercise groups) found a statistically significant difference (MD = -6.97 (95% CI -9.84, -4.10), p<0.00001) in post-intervention measures of hyperkyphosis favouring the exercise group. The narrative review of studies agrees with this finding, demonstrating statistically significant improvement in hyperkyphosis following various exercise programs. This review suggests that stretching and strengthening exercises improve hyperkyphosis in the short and long term. Low-quality evidence supports stretching as a standalone intervention. Further, more robust research is required to recommend procedures and determine if stretching alone is effective for treating hyperkyphosis in adults.
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