How to Improve Posture: 4 Upper Back Exercises

By Dr Ken Nakamura+

How To Improve Posture-Toronto Chiropractor

Do you have a rounded upper back? This can be the cause of your neck pain, stiffness and headaches.


Do you want to feel better about yourself and exude confidence with great posture?


This issue teaches you ways to help the rounded upper back problem that is prevalent in our sitting society.



See Also: The 5 Best Exercises For Your Stiff Neck


So you have a rounded upper back and you can’t keep a straight back for more than a couple of minutes. The reason is muscle imbalance. The muscles of the chest are too tight and the muscles in the back of the spine are too weak.


How can you fix this? Stretch the chest musles and strengthen the muscles at the back. This Toronto Chiropractor does his best to do the following stretches 3-4 times a week.


You need to stretch the pectoralis minor, pectoralis major and strengthen the upper back (thoracic muscles).


Stretch the Pectoralis Major and Minor

#1 Pectoralis Minor Stretch

How to Improve Posture: Pectoralis Minor Stretch Toronto Chiropractor

  • Stand at a corner or doorway opening with your arm at shoulder height.
  • Step forward.
  • Rotate your body awat if you don’t feel a stretch.
  • Stretch for 30-60 seconds 3 times.

#2 Pectoralis Major Stretch

How to Improve Posture: Pectoralis Major Stretch -Toronto Chiropractor

  • Stand next to the wall and extend your arm back.
  • Rotate your body away from the wall.
  • Stretch for 30 -60 seconds 3 times.

#3 Strengthen Your Upper Back: Prone Cobra


Get Rid Of Your Neck Pain With These Neck Exercises- Toronto Downtown Chiropractor-Deep Neck Flexors

  • Lie facedown on the floor.
  • Contract your gluteus maximus (butt muscles) and raise your chest and arms off the floor.
  • Point your thumbs toward the ceiling.
  • Bring your shoulder blades together with a hard contraction, while pushing them toward your tail bone.
  • Hold for 10 seconds 3 times. Work your way up to a total time of 60 seconds without rest.

#4 Stretch the upper back ligaments

How to Improve Posture: Foam Roll -Toronto Chiropractor

  • Roll up a towel (4 inches/ 10 cm ) and either tape both end or put an elastic band around it
  • Put the roll under the apex of your upper back
  • Lie on it for 30 seconds and work your way up five minute


You should do all these exercises 4 times a week. Start by doing the “Wall posture check” explained below, right “before” and “after” your stretches. You may start to see some changes every time you do the exercises.


Better yet take a “before” and “after” picture 4-8 weeks after doing the exercises on a regular basis.

How to Improve Posture: Common Postural Problems Toronto Chiropractor Downtown

Wall Posture Check


  1. Stand facing away from the wall and put both feet against the wall.
  2. Find where your body touches the wall.


See Also: Correct the Exaggerated Posture In Your Low Back

Correct Posture Should Be:


  • Touching the wall at the: Hips, Shoulder blades, back of your head.
  • Your flattened hand should just fit between your lower back and the wall.
  • Your head should touch the wall flat without having to extend your neck backwards. In other words your nose should not move up or down so you can reach the wall with the back of your head.


You will likely see that your posture correlates to one of the postures in the picture above. Most likely:


  • Kypholordotic Posture
  • Sway Back Posture
  • Forward head posture


If you do these exercises 4 times a week your posture should improve. Send us a picture of your “before” and “after” pictures to or leave a comment below.


Tell us what you think in the comments below and like us on Facebook. I will answer all questions in the comments section here at this downtown Toronto Chiropractic clinic.



Dr Ken Nakamura

74 Responses to How to Improve Posture: 4 Upper Back Exercises
  • Emily says:
    November 13, 2018 at 11:11 pm

    I have rounded shoulders and forward head position from poor posture at my desk. I have tried your exercises but when in prone cobra i feel a very strong contraction in my triceps and not my upper back, which is almost painful they contract so hard. Am I in the wrong position or is this due to a muscle tightness somewhere?

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      January 13, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      Thanks for your question Emily. This is often due to a muscle spasm. Stretching out the triceps muscle before the exercise would be helpful. Also taking 200mg of Magnesium bisglycinate per day often helps muscle spasm. However, I have not examined you or gotten a proper history but that is what I often recommend when they have this exact problem.

      You also have to keep in mind that if your forward head posture can sometimes cause the nerve to be irritated in the neck that leads to the triceps. If that is the case you will need professional help.

      Hope that helps. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      If you have any more questions regarding your particular situation I will do my utmost to give you the best answer based on my experience, research for the articles that I do and the numerous seminars that I do. I’m always aiming to be the best chiropractor that I can be so that I can help you.

  • Vijay says:
    December 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm

    I suffered a Brachial plexus Injury in my left arm 10 years ago, due to which i have had muscle loss, Doctors informed that its not cut or Avulsion but just a nerve got stretched , over the years i have managed to regain some (60% ) strength, however raising my arm beyond my shoulder level, folding my arms are difficult tasks even to this day, any exercises to improve and regain complete strength would be of great help.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      December 22, 2017 at 9:09 am

      Thanks for your question Vijay. From what you have told me you may have torn the nerves either at the nerve root or further down at the brachial plexus. If it was just a stretch you would have healed by now so it doesn’t sound right to me. That’s my opinion. Did your head and shoulder separate so that your neck was bending sideways like falling off a motorcycle and hitting an on-coming car causing your neck to stretch sideways or was it more of a sports injury with a similar mechanism of injury? In cases like that the nerve can be stretched but in more severe cases you often find out that the nerve has been torn.

      If the problem is a tear of the muscles you don’t get full function back but surgery can help. I cannot tell without examining you. However, an MRI in the correct area can determine this.

      Hope that helps your brachial plexus or nerve root/s and posture. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

  • Alice Kotler says:
    October 1, 2017 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Dr. Ken,
    I am a 75 year old woman. I suffer from severe kyphosis. I was told surgery is possible but it is a dangerous
    Operation. On an x-ray my spine is like the letter C. Do you think these exercises could be of help to me.

    • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
      October 1, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks for your question Alice. Most likely that you have osteoporosis with fractures or you had Scheurmann’s disease as a child. So the problem is not likely due to a postural problem. So the posture will not likely be fixed. You could try the exercises but I would get the guidance of a professional as there are several possibilities for your pain. I am assuming you have pain and not likely contemplating surgery for cosmetic reasons.

      Hope that helps your posture. The above is an opinion and not a recommendation.

      • Alice Kotler says:
        October 6, 2017 at 10:46 pm

        Thank you for your response.. They thought I have osteoporosis but all bone density’s show I do not.They
        Did put a brace on me as a child but unfortunately my mother removed it due to my crying. So I have two
        Questions for you. First do you think these exercises will help my posture from becoming worse and could
        It help with the pain. And second I Live in Montreal,is there any one you could recommend that would
        Be very knowledgeable with my particular problem. I would so appreciate any advice you can give me.
        Thanks so much, Alice.

        • Dr Ken Nakamura says:
          October 10, 2017 at 9:47 pm

          Thank you for your question, Alice. So now you are telling me you had this severe kyphosis as a child, or do you have scoliosis? If so the exercises will not help your posture. If your pain is due to previous Scheurmann’s disease or scoliosis that is still present that is causing your severe kyphosis is possible the exercises may help. However, I don’t recommend the exercises as the cause of your severe kyphosis can be many other diagnoses. My opinion is that you figure out the cause through your medical doctor before treating the problem.

          Hope that makes sense and guides you to helping your posture.

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