Study Review: Effects of Exercise on Posture and Chest Function

The Study:

Effect of thorax correction exercises on flexed posture and chest function in older women with age-related hyperkyphosis 

The Facts:

The authors looked at the effect of exercises on the hyperkyphosis and chest function in older women.

All subjects were over 65 years of age.

41 women were divided into exercise and control groups.

The exercise group performed “breathing correction, thorax mobility, thorax stability, and thorax alignment training.” This was done in 1-hour sessions, twice per week, over an eight-week period of time.

The exercises were provided to the participants in a booklet that contained all of the exercise-related information. The thorax correction exercise aimed to correct the thorax, which is the structure most affected by thoracic kyphosis, in contrast to existing thorax improvement exercise. The program consisted of 4 sub-exercises, including 5 minutes of breathing correction, 15 minutes of thorax mobility, 20 minutes of thorax stability, and 10 minutes of thorax alignment reorganization exercise.

The 8-week exercise program was structured to include an adjustment phase for 1–2 weeks, an improvement phase over weeks 3 through 5, and a maintenance phase over weeks 6 through 7, with the aim of gradually improving posture and strength. Exercises to strengthen the back utilized elastic bands that were applied according to the principle of high-intensity progressive resistance exercise.

At the end of that time the exercise group showed improvements that were significantly better in the improvement of forward head posture, thoracic kyphosis angle and chest function.

It should be noted that the experimental (exercise) group performed the exercises as a group over the course of the eight weeks. The control group performed the same exercises as the experimental group on a daily basis, but they were not supervised and they had to follow the exercise instructions provided to them in the booklet.

The Takeaway:

A supervised group exercise program was able to significantly improve the mobility of the rib cage and thoracic posture in hyperkyphotic older women.

Reviewer’s Comments:

I found the manner in which the study was structured to be somewhat strange. But I took away from this article that this program improved the flexed posture and chest function in the study. Once again, I point out that these authors (from the physical therapy department of their university) demonstrate a physical therapist’s characteristic interest in structure and function. There is more to this study than there is space to talk about it here, so I encourage you to read the article.

Reviewer: Roger Coleman, DC

Editor’s Comments:

Another interesting takeaway from the unique design of this project is the significant difference in outcomes between those patients who performed supervised exercise in a group setting versus those who simply were handed a booklet of the very same exercises to do at home. This paper supports my own experience in practice. Patients who are monitored and held accountable for their rehab participation are much more likely to get good outcomes. Just sending patients home with only written instructions on how to do a few exercises is unlikely to produce a good outcome.

Editor: Mark R. Payne, DC


Hyun-jeong J, Myung-jun K , Suhn-yeop K. Effect of thorax correction exercises on flexed posture and chest function in older women with age-related hyperkyphosis. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015 Apr; 27(4):1161-4. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.1161. Epub  2015 Apr 30.

Link to Abstract:

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