A healthy spine naturally rounds at the top and arches at the bottom. But too much rounding signals that something is off. If you’re older and female, osteoporosis may be to blame. If you’re younger, it could be your posture. Too much slouching — for example, sitting hunched over a desk all day — can cause the shoulders to pull forward and the thoracic curve to become more pronounced.
Although the effects of a rounded upper back usually aren’t serious, it can cause stiffness and back pain. It also affects your appearance, making you look older than you are. Doing exercises to strengthen your back muscles and lengthen your chest muscles will help correct a rounded posture.
This deceptively simple exercise improves thoracic extension, which is necessary for good posture. It also opens the chest muscles. Use it both as an activation and lengthening exercise and as a test to measure your progress over time.
Stand with your back to a wall. Press your entire back — upper, middle and lower — into the wall. Step your feet a few inches away from the wall, and bend your knees slightly.
Bend your elbows and press the backs of your hands into the wall at head height. Contract your core muscles and slide your hands up the wall as far as you can without your lower back arching off the wall.
Slide your hands back down the wall, then repeat, attempting to reach a bit higher with each repetition.