Hunched Over? Try a Simple Back Stretch

Back Extension Instructions

Man stretching his spine while sitting at his computer.
Romilly Lockyer/The Image Bank/Getty Images

It's easy to become hunched over if you sit at a desk all day, you'll likely feel hunched over at some point in the day.

The good news is that counteracting a (temporary) hunchback posture is easy. All you need is a simple back stretching exercise.

Below is a description of a back extension exercise similar one to the move in my yoga sun salutation designed for people who work at desks (and recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association.)

This one makes a great mini-break you can do right there at your computer. You can try it either standing or sitting, and I have added some special tips for working effectively, as well.

Back Extension Exercise for Hunched Over Posture

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 2 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. If you have a back injury or condition or back pain, ask your doctor if this exercise is appropriate for you. This article only describes how to do this exercise; it does not recommend that you do it. Only your medical professionals can tell you if you should.
  2. Sit or stand upright in a relaxed, yet aligned position.
    1. Your feet should be parallel to one another and arms down by the sides.
    2. Your gaze should be forward and chin tucked a little.
    3. Inhale, then exhale and gently pull your stomach toward your back.
    4. Knees are easy, with a little bend in them.
  3. By reaching them out to the sides first, take your arms to the overhead position. (It's like you are drawing half circles with each arm, simultaneously.)
    1. While doing this, your elbows should be straight, but not locked. Take a moment to check the tension level at your elbows.
  4. Once your arms reach their destination of over your head, interlace your fingers. If that's not possible, (due to stiffness) bring them as close together as you can.
    1. Take your head back as you need in order to make room for your arms as well as to add a little more work to those back extensor muscles. Taking your head back slightly will add challenge to the back muscles, strengthening them more.
    2. Hold this position for 5-30 seconds.
  1. To give this exercise more oomph, you can reach your torso up out of your pelvis — and towards the ceiling/sky as you hold the position.
  2. You can adapt this exercise for sitting by starting in this way:
    1. Sit up on your chair, arms by your side.
    2. Your 2 sitting bones should be contacting the chair firmly and evenly, but without gripping or tension in the buttock muscles.
    3. Pull your stomach toward your back.
    4. Do the exercise from this position.
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Article Sources

  • Moffat, Marilyn, P.T. Ph.D. and Vickery, Steve. The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair. Owl Books. Henry Holt and Company, LLC. New York, New York, 1999. Stretch and Reach p.224