Advanced Posture Exercises For Your Rounded Upper Back

Midback exercises to help hyperkyphosis, hunch back and a increased mid back and upper back curve in the spine. Dr Ken Nakamura Toronto Chiropractor

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

If you’re still seeking assistance, this article introduces advanced posture exercises and other techniques to address hunchback posture effectively.

Identifying the Root Cause: Hyperkyphosis

Your rounded upper back, often termed upper crossed syndrome or kyphosis, stems from an imbalance in muscle strength.

The thoracic spine naturally curves, but when this curvature becomes exaggerated—known as hyperkyphosis or colloquially, a hunchback—it signifies muscular imbalance.

Balancing Muscular Strength

The imbalance manifests as tight chest muscles and weak back muscles. Last week, we focused on stretching chest muscles and strengthening the back. Now, we’ll expand with additional posture exercises.

For those seeing minimal improvement, consider increasing exercise frequency to twice daily, seven days a week.

Targeted Muscle Strengthening

To effectively address severe kyphosis, focus on strengthening:

  • Middle trapezius and rhomboids
  • Lower trapezius and multifidus

Strengthening these muscles is crucial for maintaining proper posture while standing and sitting.

Emphasizing Endurance Over Speed

Endurance, not brute strength, is key. These exercises require extended holds rather than quick repetitions.

Hold each exercise for at least 60 seconds before considering additional weight to intensify the workout.

By incorporating these exercises into your routine, you can make significant strides toward correcting severe kyphosis and improving your overall posture.

Intermediate Posture Exercises 

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

Posture Exercises: Prone "Y" Exercise Toronto Chiropractor

  • Lay facedown on the floor
  • Bring your arms overhead in a “Y” shape
  • Lift 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

  • Lay facedown on the floor
  • Bring your arms to the side in a “T” shape
  • Lift 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
  • 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 tailbone.

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

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

How to Improve Posture: Foam Roll -Toronto Chiropractor
  1. Position the Foam Roller: Sit on the floor and place the foam roller behind you, aligned with your lower ribs.
  2. Lie Down: Gently lie back so the foam roller is under your thoracic spine. Support your head with your hands to avoid neck strain.
  3. Stabilize Your Lower Body: Keep your feet flat and knees bent to control pressure.
  4. Roll: Extend your midback over the foam roller, targeting the area between your shoulder blades to the top of your upper back.
  5. Pause and Extend: Pause and allow your back to gently extend over the roller for a deeper stretch. Breathe deeply.
  6. Control the Pressure: Use your legs to adjust your body’s pressure on the roller, focusing on areas of tension.

Duration: 1-2 minutes, adjusting as you become more comfortable with the exercise.

Warning About The Posture Exercises

For individuals with severe osteoporosis or Scheuermann’s disease (juvenile osteochondrosis) leading to a rounded back (hyperkyphosis), it’s important to note that posture exercises alone may not fully straighten the back. However, for those who experienced Scheuermann’s disease during childhood, engaging in these exercises could potentially offer pain relief. Additionally, if your child is currently dealing with Scheuermann’s disease, incorporating posture exercises might help in reducing the curvature of their back, although research has yet to conclusively prove this effect.

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.

Please 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.

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  • 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.

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      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.
      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.

    • 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)

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  • 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 ?

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      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.

  • 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?

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      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.

  • 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:)

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      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.

      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.

      • 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!

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          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.

  • 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!

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      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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • Post

      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.

Dr Ken Nakamura downtown Toronto Chiropractor
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Dr. Ken, has been recognized as the Best Toronto Chiropractor in 2024, 2023, and 2018, here in downtown Toronto. As a sports chiropractor, he excels in treating a wide range of conditions including concussions, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), sports-related injuries, and spinal issues. Beyond his clinical skills, Dr. Ken is an accomplished athlete, having represented Ontario in the Canadian Judo Championships and completed the Toronto Marathon on two occasions. He employs the innovative C3 Program to provide targeted and effective care to his patients, ensuring a holistic approach to their well-being and athletic performance.