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Age-related decline in mid-back and low back muscle mass and quality is not associated with kyphosis progression.

BOSTON — Researchers from Hebrew SeniorLife’s Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study and Boston University have found that poor back muscle quality is not associated with worsening kyphosis (forward curvature or “hunch” of the upper spine) in older adults. The study was published today in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Lead author Amanda Lorbergs, Ph.D, former post-doctoral fellow at Marcus Institute explains, “We used computed tomography (CT) scans to measure spinal curvature in 1087 men and women (aged 50-85 years to determine whether age-related decline in trunk muscle size and quality contribute to the worsening of kyphosis. We found that adults with smaller and fat-infiltrated muscles in the mid-back, but not the low back, had a more accentuated forward curvature of the spine. Six years later, the age-related decline in mid-back and low back muscle mass and quality was not associated with kyphosis progression.”

The results of this study have led scientists to believe that further research is needed to understand how targeted resistance exercises can modify muscle properties and contribute to preventing kyphosis progression.

This study was supported with funding from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health (R01 AG041658, R01 AR053986, R01 AR041398, T32-AG023480) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s Framingham Heart Study (HHSN268201500001I)

About the Marcus Institute

Scientists at the Marcus Institute seek to transform the human experience of aging by conducting research that will ensure a life of health, dignity and productivity into advanced age. The Institute carries out rigorous studies that discover the mechanisms of age-related disease and disability; lead to the prevention, treatment and cure of disease; advance the standard of care for older people; and inform public decision-making. The Musculoskeletal Center within Marcus Institute studies conditions affecting bone, muscle, and joint health with aging.

About Hebrew SeniorLife

Hebrew SeniorLife, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is a national senior services leader uniquely dedicated to rethinking, researching and redefining the possibilities of aging. Based in Boston, the non-profit, non-sectarian organization has provided communities and health care for seniors, research into aging, and education for geriatric care providers since 1903. For more information about Hebrew SeniorLife, visit, follow us on Twitter @H_SeniorLife, like us on Facebook or read our blog.