Spinal Extension and Flexion Exercise

An exercising woman is flexing her spine while seated.
An exercising woman is flexing her spine while seated. Mike Harrington/Taxi/Getty Images

If you've been working with my Posture Training Series, you know that the pelvis, ribcage, and spine are connected. We'll now take this idea further. In this exercise, you'll be flexing and extending your spine as a whole. If you are wondering what the Posture Training Series is, or are intrigued by the idea, why not catch up by trying these simple posture awareness exercises?


  1. Stand, or sit on a firm chair or stool. If you choose to sit, place yourself so that your weight is right on top of the two sitting bones, which are located directly under your pelvis. By sitting right on top of the bones, you’ll automatically get some support for an upright body posture. Note: You can make the exercise (a lot) more challenging by sitting on the floor.
  2. Begin the spinal flexion movement by dropping your head (and slightly tucking your chin). Continue by sequentially flexing your neck then your upper back, mid back, low back and finally your pelvis. When you’re complete with the movement your body will make a “C” shape, and your pelvis will be in a backward tilt. You learned in the pelvis and low back curve posture awareness exercise that the backward tilt of the pelvis tends to lessen the degree of the low back curve.
  3. To come out of the spinal flexion, inhale. As you do, begin to move your pelvis from that backward tilt toward upright. As you learned in pelvis and low back curve posture awareness exercise when the pelvis moves, the spine follows. In this case, as you straighten up your pelvic position, your low back will regain its natural curve. Continue the sequential action through your mid and upper back, neck and finally your head. You should be sitting right on top of your sitting bones, with your eyes gazing straight ahead.
  1. Next, you'll do a spinal extension movement. As you learned in the pelvis and low back curve posture awareness exercise, the inhale naturally increases spinal extension. This is pretty subtle, so pay attention. Inhale, fill your trunk up with air. As you do, allow your pelvis to roll into the forward tilt position. Your spine will sequentially follow with an arching action. When you're done, your body will make a "C" shape toward the back. The "C" shape won't be a pronounced as the "C" shape you made with your spine in flexion (Step 2). That's okay. You're still developing posture muscles with this movement.
  2. Exhale, and release back into an upright position: Balancing right on top of your sitting bones, spine erect.


  1. This spinal extension - spinal flexion posture exercise is not designed for intense strengthening. Still, you can work with it to increase your awareness of your posture, and to improve it.
  2. Don't work in pain. If the movement makes your body hurt, either back off a bit or don't do this at all. Of course, you should have your doctor's okay to exercise before trying this.
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