Hesperian Health Guides

Exercise for a Straighter Back


Boy with upper back bent forward
The upper back bends forward (in older persons this is a common cause of high back pain). Often the shoulders and shoulder blades are also stiff.
Lie face down and move the arms as shown. This helps keep the shoulder blades and upper back flexible.
chilid lying down moving arms above head then to head level then straightening them on each side of the body

Put a strap around the upper body and bend backward as far as you can.
child lying on belly with strap around upper body trying to bend backwards
girl bending back while child is sitting on her and pressing his hands on her upper back
Or put pressure against the middle of the upper back and have the child try to straighten against it.
Stay in this position while you count to 25. Do the exercise 2 or 3 times a day.
CAUTION! Bending back like this usually bends the lower back too much and does little or nothing to help straighten the upper back. It may make the problem worse.
child bending all the way back with an X through it

child lying on back with rolled up cloth under the curve of his back
Also, for at least half an hour a day, lie with a rolled up towel or cloth under the middle of the curve in your back. Breathe deeply, and every time you breathe out, try to let your body bend backward over the roll.
Stay in this position while you count to 25. Do the exercise 2 or 3 times a day.

Note: Some experts believe that the exercises that bend the back up and back, as shown above, may also help keep a mild sideways curve of the spine (scoliosis) from getting worse. But the exercises will not help much if the curve is severe.

Child with sideways curve

This page was updated:27 May 2020