I’m really excited to share this weekend’s challenge. It’s so simple, but very targeted and effective at opening the chest, pulling back the shoulders, and straightening the upper back.
Exercises for this area of the body are crucial for improving and maintaining good posture, which typically worsens as we age. Upper spinal alignment is of particular importance in this day and age, when texting, typing, and prolonged sitting cause the upper back to round out and the head to jut forward and down (FHP).
The Back Straightener And Chest Expander addresses all of that and more, so let’s get started!
Your thoracic vertebrae compose the segment of your spine that runs roughly from the base of your neck to the area just below the middle of your back. The condition and position of these vertebrae reveal your postural state, along with your scapulae. In fact, there are various bones and muscles in this area that affect posture, so I’d like to take a brief look at them.
You have twelve thoracic vertebrae, which make up the middle of your back between your cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) vertebrae. The thoracic vertebrae are mid-sized, being larger than the cervical and smaller than the lumbar; and the vertebrae at the top of the thoracic column are smaller than those at the bottom, as they get progressively larger toward the lower back.
The thoracic vertebrae are distinctive from the others bones of the spine. They have facet joints on either side for connecting to the ribs, with the first one, known as T1, having two facets – one entire, one partial, or demi – for connecting to the first rib’s head and the top half of the second rib’s head, respectively.
Like all bones in the spinal column, the thoracic vertebrae have an opening, called the foramen, through which the spinal cord passes. In the thoracic vertebrae, the edges of this opening, called the pedicles, are larger, creating a more significant vertebral notch inferiorly.
T12 begins to slant laterally as the lumbar vertebrae do, gradually creating the arch of the lower back.
The scapulae roughly span the distance from T3 through T8, and their position is of paramount importance in posture. In forward head posture, or FHP, the scapulae begin to slide forward, causing the back edge (or “spine”) of the scapulae to jut outward. Unstable scapulae can cause a host of problems, from neck pain to reduced shoulder mobility. And a rounded upper back always has out-of-place scapulae as part of the equation.
Today’s exercise positions the scapulae back where they belong by strengthening the muscles that hold them in place, and by promoting thoracic vertebrae alignment. In addition, the stretching that today’s exercise includes helps release tight, shortened muscles that can pull bones out of alignment.
The Back Straightener And Chest Expander also stretches the muscles of the chest, such as the pectoralis major, counteracting the hollowed chest that accompanies FHP. In addition, today’s exercise expands the ribcage, allowing the shoulder girdle and thoracic vertebrae to release into position.
All you need for this exercise is a wall.
- Sit on the floor close beside a wall, with your feet straight out in front of you. Keep your back straight, and look straight ahead.
- Take the arm that is next to the wall, and turn your hand so your palm is against the wall.
- Slowly bring your arm forward, up, and back to make an arc on the wall, bringing it as far behind you as you can. Keep your palm lightly against the wall. If you are too close to the wall to complete the move comfortably, don’t lean away from the wall. Instead, move your whole body out from the wall and simply sit further away.
- Bring the arm forward and repeat the arc.
- On the fifth (or so) repetition, gently lean forward when your arm is just past your shoulder and about to descend down the wall. Keep your back and neck straight and lean at the hips, thinking of bringing your chest down to your legs, not your forehead.
- Come back up and do five more repetitions, leaning down during each one.
- Switch sides and repeat.
I recommend you follow up with The Back Flattener, one of my favorite Weekend Challenges for maintaining upper back alignment. The Back Flattener, like the Back Straightener And Chest Expander, is easily done indoors; and in fact, today’s exercise is best performed in an indoor environment with straight, smooth walls.
Indoor exercises are perfect for this time of year, when inclement weather makes long walks difficult or impossible. And a treadmill requires an expensive gym membership and a trip to the gym, which may not be practical or possible in bad weather.
So winter is the ideal time to start exercising for your bones right in the comfort of your own home, or change up your existing routine to include some moves that are well-suited for the indoors.
The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System is just the thing to jump-start your indoor exercise regimen. With over 50 exercises that take just 15 minutes, three days a week, it’s easier to work out for your bones than ever before, no matter what time of year it is.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
So don’t let the cold and snow stop you! Take a look at Densercise™, and you’ll see how simple and effective targeted exercise can be, indoors and out.
Enjoy the weekend!