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

If you sit at a desk all day, it's easy to become hunched over, at least at some point in the day. This temporary hunchback is known as postural kyphosis. It can become a habit if you don't begin to pay attention to your sitting posture and take appropriate breaks to move around. The good news is that counteracting a (temporary) hunchback posture is easy if it hasn't yet become a chronic problem. You can try this simple back stretching exercise.

Below is a description of a back extension exercise that is similar to the seated move in the yoga sun salutation. It is designed for people who work at desks.

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

If you have a back, neck, or shoulder injury or condition, ask your doctor if this exercise is appropriate for you. If your hunched back has become a chronic problem, consult your doctor to see if there is another underlying cause.

Back Extension Exercise for Hunched Over Posture

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 2 minutes

Exercise Instructions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.) While doing this, your elbows should be straight, but not locked. Take a moment to check the tension level at your elbows.
  3. 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 to 30 seconds.

Modifications

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.

You can adapt this exercise for sitting by starting in this way:

    1. Sit up on your chair, arms by your side.
    2. Your two 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.

If you have a chronic hunchback posture, consult your doctor. You may need a physical therapist to recommend an exercise routine to strengthen and stretch.

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  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Kyphosis (roundback) of the spine. Updated April 2016.