Advanced Posture Exercises For Your Rounded Upper Back

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

How to Improve Posture: Toronto Chiropractor

Do you have a rounded upper back (severe kyphosis) like this guy?

 

Have you already done the posture exercises in “How To Improve Your Posture: 4 Upper Back Exercises“?

 

If you need a little more help this article teaches you some advanced posture exercises and other hunch-back improving exercises.

 

So what is this bad posture caused by? Your rounded upper back is sometimes called upper crossed syndrome, or kyphosis by others.

 

The upper back or the thoracic spine has a natural curve to it. When there is too much of something we use the word “hyper”, like a hyperactive child.  So the correct term is hyperkyphosis. Some people may refer to a hyperkyphotic upper back as hunch back.

 

The cause of your rounded back is an imbalance of muscles. Your chest muscles are too tight and your back muscles are too weak. 

 

Last week I showed you how stretch your chest muscles while strengthening the back muscles. We need to add a few more posture exercises to complete the muscles that are being strengthened.

 

For those of you whose posture is not improving, you need to increase the frequency of the previous exercises in addition to these new exercises to twice a day seven days a week.

 

You need to strengthen the

 

  • Middle trapezius and Rhomboids
  • Lower trapezius and Multifidus

 

Strengthening the  middle back and lower back muscles are needed to help hold your body up in the correct position when you are standing and sitting.

 

Remember you need endurance not strength. This means the following exercises are held for long periods. Adding weights and doing them quickly won’t help much,

 

In contrast  if you can hold these exercises for 60 seconds, then adding weights to make the postural exercises harder is helpful.

Intermediate Posture Exercises 

#1 “Y” Exercise For Your Lower Trapezius and multifidus

Posture Exercises: Prone "Y" Exercise Toronto Chiropractor

http://bit.ly/18g7W0L

 

  • Lay facedown on the floor
  • Bring your arms overhead in a “Y” shape
  • Lift up your arms as high as they will go while keeping your shoulder from going up.

 

Hold for 10 seconds eventually extending the time to 60 seconds. Make the exercise harder by doing this on a Swiss ball or weights.

#2 “T” Exercises To Strengthen Your Middle Trapezius and Rhomboids

Middle Trap exercise:Toronto Chiropractor

http://bit.ly/1hddu46

 

  • Lay facedown on the floor
  • Bring your arms to the side in a “T” shape
  • Lift up your arms as high as they will go while you stop your shoulder from going up toward your head.
  • Hold for 10 seconds eventually extending the time to 60 seconds. Make the exercise harder by doing this on a Swiss ball or weights.

#3 Bruegger exercise

Bruegger exercise-Toronto Chiropractor

http://deltaspinalcare.com/DeskStretches.html

 

  • Sit on the edge of a chair
  • Tuck in your chin
  • Turn your thumbs out and bring your arms behind you
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together and toward your tail bone.

 

Remember to keep the arch in your lower back. Form is important.

#4 Advanced Stretch Of The Upper Back Ligaments (thoracic vertebral ligaments)

How to Improve Posture: Foam Roll -Toronto Chiropractor

  • Put a hard foam roll on the floor.
  • Put the roll under the apex of your upper back

 

Lie on it for 30 seconds and work your way up five minutes

 

If you do these posture exercises everyday your posture should improve. Send us a picture of your “before” and “after” pictures or leave a comment below.  This Toronto downtown chiropractor sticks with the 4 posture exercises mentioned in the previous article as they do a pretty good job.

Warning About The Posture Exercises

 

If you have severe osteoporosis or Scheuermann’s disease (juvenile osteochondrosis) that is causing your rounded back (hyperkyphosis), these posture exercises will not straighten your back. If you had Scheuermann’s disease as a child you may benefit by relieving some pains. If your child has Scheuermann’s disease these posture exercises may help decrease the curve although this is not proven in the research so far.

 

Those of you with severe osteoporosis should not do these posture exercises. With mild to moderate osteoporosis you should be fine as there is no flexion involved with these posture exercises. Still, a bone density scan within the last two years to find out how strong your bones are is recommended.

 

Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. This Toronto Downtown Chiropractor will answer all questions in the comments section.

 


Author

Dr Ken Nakamura


64 Responses to Advanced Posture Exercises For Your Rounded Upper Back
  • Anne Hulme says:
    March 15, 2017 at 1:03 am

    Hi Dr Ken. I was diagnosed with a small disc bulge/protrusion at L5/S1 last March with slight nerve impingement at S1. I am still unable to sit. I have an excellent range of movement but have burning and stinging pain in my buttocks when I sit. If I sit for longer than five minutes the burning pain radiates down the back of my thighs. Clinically I have no signs of nerve impingement with the straight leg raise or slump test. This is ruining my life. I ice the area constantly. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 15, 2017 at 8:39 am

      Thanks for your question Anne from the UK. Your slump test will change over time due to the nature of the disc. In your case, it should take over 5 minutes. That’s the time it takes for your disc to ooze out, while for others it will take a lot longer. So your slump test will be negative until that time as there is no pressure or very little pressure on the disc. The MRI is also not showing what is happening. Your MRI was taken lying down when there is the least amount of pressure on the disc. When you sit especially for longer periods there is more pressure on the disc that grows larger as time goes by. If you were able to take an MRI while sitting, after 5 minutes, you would find more of a nerve impingement of your S1 nerve.

      So yes you likely have a clinically relevant nerve impingement, you just aren’t detecting it with the slump test as you aren’t doing the test at the right time. You should tell your chiropractor.

      https://www.bodiempowerment.com/herniated-disc-part-2-the-best-exercises-for-your-herniated-disc/
      So try these exercises to help you with your case. This is an opinion and not a recommendation. You might get worse with any exercises so it is best to get your local chiropractor familiar with these exercises to make sure you are doing them properly.

      Hope that helps your disc bulge/disc protrusion. If you have any more question for this downtown Toronto chiropractor I will do my best to give you a useful answer.

      • Anne says:
        March 17, 2017 at 10:14 pm

        Thanks so much Dr Ken. I really appreciate your help and I will try the exercises. Kind Regards. Anne

  • Susan says:
    June 9, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    Hello,
    What are the # of reps for each exercise ?

    • Angela says:
      June 10, 2016 at 7:49 pm

      Hi, I am round shouldered (as was my father) and currently have been going to the gym for 18 months. I will definitely be adding these to my routine. I am wondering what you would recommend as the best sleeping position for this condition (if there is one)

      • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
        June 13, 2016 at 9:40 am

        Thanks for your question Angela. Sleeping on your back with just a towel to fill in the hollow between hour neck and your bed.

        Hope that helps your posture.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      June 13, 2016 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for your question Susan. Start with 2 and work your way up to 5.

      Hope that helps your posture.

  • Mark says:
    May 29, 2016 at 12:55 am

    I was wondering if ones rounded back can effect their chest development. I have Kyphosis but spent so much time surfing whil young that some of it transferred into pigeon chest and now i hold a posture that hides the kyphosis. I do notice I have a high stomach aswell and have thin arms and legs. Is there any workouts that can help change ones body a bit ?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 29, 2016 at 7:53 pm

      Thanks for your question Mark. These exercises can help with your kyphosis but as for your pigeon chest you might try some dumbell bench press on an incline. It may help depending on the extent but it’s certainly no cure. You say you developed it as opposed to being born with it. You likely have a better chance of helping your pigeon chest.

      Hope that helps your rounded back and pigeon chest.

  • Gayle says:
    May 12, 2016 at 4:00 am

    Hello, my 15 year old son was just recently diagnosed with Sheurmann’s disease. He has a 75% curvature in his spine and a rounded upper back. I am being told by an orthopedist and another orthopedist at Childrens Hospital that there is nothing that can be done to correct this outside of possible surgery in the future. At this point he has no pain. I was recently told about egoscue therapy and that they have been having success in straightening spines thru this. I realize that there is a lot more success with scoliosis and straightening of the spine. Can you tell me if egoscue therapy or the exercises you show on this page will help with Sherurmann’s?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 12, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Thanks for your question Gayle. The Egoscue Method will not help Scheuermann’s Diease but neither will the exercises here. The good news is that a lot of people have no pain even into adult hood although the likelihood of pain does rise.

      Hope that helps your understanding of your son’s posture.

  • Michele says:
    May 5, 2016 at 9:25 pm

    Thank you Dr Nakamura for this helpful advise. I have a question if you wouldnt mind sharing your advise… My nearly 13 year old daughter has been diagnosed with Kyphosis by an orthopedist. She has been doing PT for some time with little improvement. We feel that she may need bracing at this point but will need to make another appointment for that. At this time, she has shin splints that she is also being treated for. She is getting frustrated without being able to run, so we were going to purchase an stationary bike or an elliptical trainer for her to get exercise. I would very much appreciate your advise as to which would be better for her with regards both issues, but especially the Kyphosis. I’m concerned that a bike would force her into a hunched position but not sure if an elliptical trainer would be good for her kyphosis. Any help would be appreciated! Thank you:)

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 6, 2016 at 9:11 am

      Thanks for your question Michele. As for the shin splints usually the problem is from having flat feet so you can get generic orthotics which often helps. http://www.amazon.com/Spenco-Orthotic-Length-Womens-9-10/dp/B000FPKUZ0/ref=sr_1_1_s_it?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1462499833&sr=1-1&keywords=spenco+orthotic+arch+support

      Or you can get shoes made for flat feet or more technically pronation. Your daughter’s foot likely pronates or flattens out. This causes the leg to rotate and causes more strain on the muscle of the leg and thus more pulling of the muscles on the bone which eventually leads to pain.

      The third option is to go to a ART practitioner, which stands for active release technique.

      For the extra kyphosis if she has Scheurman’s Disease which is a common cause of hyperkyphosis (too much kyphosis) or scolisosis which also causes hyperkyphosis you have to treat the cause. For scoliosis the problem is 90% of the time there is no know cause. If it’s Scheurman’s than it’s simply bracing if it’s not too bad. Also you can try the Schroth method. By the way everybody has kyphosis so it should be hyperkyphosis.

      Hope that helps her posture.

      • Michele says:
        May 6, 2016 at 7:05 pm

        That does help! Thank you so much. She was actually just fitted for orthotics yesterday so guess we are on the right path. Any advise with regards to the best exercise machine for her to get some cardio while she heals? We are stuck between an upright stationary bicycle or an elliptical machine- she wants a stationary bike but my concern is that she may need to hunch over for the handle bars. With an elliptical machine, she would get more core workout and upper body at the same time, but dont want her doing anything contraindicated for the hyperkyphosis (there is no scoliosis with her so guessing its Sheurmans) Again, I really appreciate your advise, very helpful!

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          May 8, 2016 at 9:14 am

          Thanks for your question Michele. The elliptical is the preferred machine between the two. But swimming is fine as well. It doesn’t mean the curve is Sherumans although it can be. It’s just one of the more common possibilities. A good possibility is that she has a normal curve or a slightly exaggerated curve. With posture one person’s mild is the other person’s moderate and sometimes even severe. It’s opinion. You can measure the angle but the variation in normal ranges widely. I would get a second opinion from another doctor before making any decisions with regards to the curve. Surgery is not an option for a non scoliotic kyphosis anyways.

          Hope that helps your daughter’s posture.

  • Ricardo Kessler says:
    May 2, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    Hi, Dr. Ken
    I hope, you are well. Thank you for writing this article. I have a question about the seconds: do you do 30 seconds each time until it equal to 5 minutes, or do you 30, seconds,1 min, 1 min 30 sec, etc. Until you reach 5 minutes? The same goes for the 60 seconds do you do 10,10,10,10,10,and 10 until you reach 60, or do you do 10, then 20, then 30? Etc. Sorry for my confusing question I just was not sure if I was doing it the right way. Get back to me when you can!

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      May 4, 2016 at 7:09 am

      Thanks for your question Ricardo. I would do the progression you describe. Try 30 seconds and see if it’s tolerable. Than move on to a minute if there isn’t much problems. If you had aches or pains hold back an stay at 30 seconds. When you are ready go for 45 seconds. Then go to a minute. That way it’s gradual. The worse your posture the more gradual you must be. Someone with pretty good posture will have no problems starting with 2 minutes. By the time you reach 2 minutes going in 30 second increments will be fine. Hope that makes sense.

      Hope that helps your posture.

  • Eda says:
    March 11, 2016 at 2:43 am

    Hi Dr. Ken. Thank you for posting this. I have newly started to work on my posture since I have a hunchback, sit in front of the computer all day and have back pain. A pain that only goes away when I lay like dead on the hard ground without pillow. Hopefully these will all disappear. I hope i can find the roller foam. Have a nice day.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      March 11, 2016 at 7:01 am

      Thanks for your comments Eda. The foam rolls are available on Amazon.com. I hope that your posture and pain improves.

  • Cally says:
    January 22, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Dr Nakamurar, it’s me again. I can’t feel any stretch in my back when I do the first two exercises, the T and the Y exercises. I only feel a stretch in my arms. Am I doing it wrong and if so, what should I do?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 23, 2016 at 3:25 am

      Thanks for your question Cally. They aren’t stretches that’s why you can’t feel a stretch they are to help increase strength mostly any stretching is a side effect.

      Hope that helps your posture.

  • nandakumar says:
    January 22, 2016 at 11:05 am

    good work outs

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 22, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Thanks for your positive comment Namdakumar.

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