Prevent & Reverse Kyphosis: Exercises for a healthy mid back and happy shoulders.

By Jenna Nelson, Trainer at Milestone Fitness


“I don’t want to have a hunch back!”  One of the top requests I get from people who want to work on posture and physique.

For years it seemed most people came in solely to address low back pain. These days I see just as many people with chronic neck tension, shoulder pain or injury, and those fearing that they are starting to see a hump on their mid/upper back from their poor posture.

It’s not an unreasonable request. Avoiding the hunchback ( thoracic kyphosis) posture helps with not only physique, but also function of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine, core and shoulders.

From a physique standpoint it causes the shoulders to round in towards the chest, the head tends to shift forward, and the torso flexes. This posture can make you appear heavier, older, closed off, shy, and timid.

What leads to this posture?

·      Doing more push than pull in the gym

·      Driving a lot

·      Lots of screen time

·      Too much sitting

·      Genetics

·      Common with the golfers we work with

·      Nursing moms

·      Moms w/ young kids who are always holding a kid and a bag

·      Being Timid

·      Being chronically stressed

The list goes on…

Taking the time to reverse this posture or to put the work in now to avoid this posture could prevent you from having to endure the common symptoms associated with a kyphosis

·      Cranky Shoulders

·      Neck tension

·      Pain when pressing weight overhead

·      Low back pain

·      Back spasm or pain when trying to do rotational work

Whether you are looking to improve function and eliminate common pain that is associated with a kyphosis, or you are looking to put the work in now to avoid that happening down the line I have some exercises for you.

Don’t be surprised if you get a few “ have you lost weight” comments when you work on your thoracic extension. Creating more extension and length in the torso will instantly make someone look taller, leaner, and happier.

The goal of these exercises:

1) Increase thoracic mobility

2) Work on scapular rhythm and stability 

First-up, I have put together a video series of Stretching and Mobility Drills for the mid-back and shoulders.

1) Prone Dragon Breaths - 10 breaths

2) Prone Alt Arm Glides w/ opp leg reach 5ea

3) Childs Pose w/ dynamic SH reach, rotate, lift 5ea

4) ½ kneeling w/ T-Roation 10ea

5) Upper Spinal Floor Twist 1 min ea

6)  Sitting Hami at Wall  1 min

x1 Round

The second video series is 5 Activation exercises for thoracic extension and shoulder mobility.

1) Strapped Pullover 10

2) External Arm Rotation in neutral back 1 min

3) Superman Lifts w/ hands under forehead 10

4) Tall Kneeling Wall Clocks 5ea

5) Bear Plank 20-30s

x2 Rounds

Whether you are looking to improve your posture, improve your golf game, eliminate mid back pain from cooking too much, sitting at a desk for an extended period of time, or to simply take care of your body now to prevent future injury… I think these would be some great stretches and activations for mid back and shoulder health.

Give them a try and let me know what you think. My absolute favorites are the prone dragon breaths, upper spinal floor twist, and the strapped pullover. I would love to hear which ones help you feel your best.

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