Weekend Challenge: Shoulder Mobilizer And Chest Expander - Save Our Bones

This weekend’s exercise addresses shoulder joint mobility and chest expansion, and it stretches the “lats” and other important muscles of the upper body.

It’s an excellent move for avoiding and correcting kyphosis and keeping the upper body flexible and strong. It’s a good addition to your regular workout routine, especially if it normally includes mostly walking. In fact, we’re going to look at why walking alone is not enough to build bone, and why targeted exercises like this one are essential.

Let’s get started!


In the fight against osteoporosis, the shoulders and upper back are important areas of the body. To increase mobility, flexibility, muscle and bone strength in these areas, you need to stretch those muscles to release tightness and make the joints more limber. This is especially so with regard to the muscles in the chest and along your sides, which we’re going to look at next.

  • Most of us think of the Latissimus dorsi, or lats, as covering the upper part of the ribs near the shoulder blades. But in actuality, the lats cover a lot more area than that – in fact, the word “latissimus” means “broad,” and for good reason. The lats actually encompass your ribs, sides, under your arms, and along your back from the thoracic to the sacral vertebrae. That’s a big muscle!

    When the lats are tight, the negative effects are equally broad. One effect is a “swayback” and rounded tummy caused by forward-arching vertebrae. Another issue is shoulder mobility, a particular concern for achieving proper posture.

    Your shoulder joints simply will not work properly if your lats are too tight. Tight lats pull down and inward on your shoulders, restricting upward and outward movement. This prevents you from being able to work the shoulders properly to build bone density, and it also skews scapular and thoracic alignment – key points in kyphosis prevention and correction.

  • The muscles of the chest are also of paramount importance in correcting posture. The pectoralis major muscles lie across the top front of your chest and cover most of that area. They originate on either side of the sternum (breastbone) and the second through sixth ribs, and attach to the clavicle (collarbone) and humerus (upper arm bone). So you can see that stretching these muscles is crucial to counteract the hollow chest associated with kyphosis and forward head posture.

    The pectoralis minor muscles are much smaller, but of no less importance. They originate at the coracoid process at the top of the scapula (shoulder blade), a bony structure at the front of the scapula directly under your clavicle. They attach at the third, fourth, and fifth ribs. The pectoralis minor may be small, but if it’s tight, your shoulder mobility and chest’s ability to expand will be greatly hampered.

These are the main muscles and muscle groups that are addressed by today’s challenge. So let’s take a look at how to do it.


You’ll be more comfortable if you use an exercise or yoga mat or even a small rug if you don’t have a carpeted floor.

  1. Get down on your knees and sit back on your heels.
  2. Lean forward with your elbows on the ground (so you’re basically on your elbows and knees, but with your buttocks on your heels).
  3. Keeping your face downward, “walk” one of your hands forward with your fingers until your arm is extended all the way. You should feel a good stretch along your upper ribs.
  4. Turn your palm face-up and lift your arm up to approximately ear level or slightly above, keeping your arm straight.
  5. Lower your arm back down and place your palm back on the mat, bringing your arm back in and your elbow back down.
  6. Repeat with the other arm.
  7. Do five to 10 stretches and arm lifts on each side (feel free to do more or less as your comfort level allows).


  • Try not to tilt your upper body as you lift your arm. Keep your back straight and level, and your face downward.
  • There is no need to lift your arm high; just lift it until you feel the muscles working and stretching in your shoulders, and then come back down. If you can’t get up to your ear, that’s fine.

Targeted exercises like this are a perfect follow-up to weight-bearing exercise such as walking, because walking alone is not enough.

Enhance Your Weight-Bearing Exercise With Targeted Bone Building

Please don’t misunderstand. Walking is excellent exercise, and is a much-needed counteraction to the prolonged sitting that so many of us experience each day. But to reverse low bone density, moves that focus on particular areas of the skeleton are crucial. I’ll explain.

Your arms swing as you walk, but your upper body does not bear any load or experience impact of any kind while walking. Your spine receives a bit of impact, but no more than it receives during normal daily activities. So moves like the Shoulder Mobilizer And Chest Expander are vital for stimulating bone growth in your upper spine, ribs, chest, and shoulders.

The lower body also gets only a partial bone-building workout from walking. Walking provides limited load on the hips, since the motion of walking moves the legs from front to back only. Stepping and hopping from side to side, as in targeted exercises like the Hip Bone Rejuvenator, are essential for loading the pelvis evenly and increasing bone strength throughout the hip joint.

Reverse Bone Loss With Targeted Exercise

Again, I want to reiterate that walking is good weight-bearing exercise with a host of benefits, and it can help increase bone density, as explained in the Osteoporosis Reversal Program. But the fact remains that to overcome bone loss and really increase bone strength to prevent fractures, you need to engage in moves that focus on one or two areas of the skeleton at a time.

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If you have the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, then you know that each exercise tells you exactly which area of the body that particular move addresses. Each “Densercise™” lists a muscle target and a bone target. For example, the Heel Lift on page 23 lists the legs as the muscle target and the hips as the bone target. The Forward Arm Raise on page 47 targets the deltoid muscles and the bones of the shoulder.

So the bottom line is, enjoy weight-bearing exercise like walking and targeted exercise for a well-rounded, whole-body, bone-building regimen!

Enjoy the weekend!

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. jo

    Would like to know daily recommended amount of calcium/ magnesium to take.
    I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis and ostepenia. AP spine improved now; normal now since osteopenia in 2004. Femoral Neck (-2.1 Tscore), Total hip left- (-1.6 osteopenia), Total hip bilateral(-1.6 osteopenia), Femoral Neck(-2.0 osteopenial), total Hip right(-1.6) ostepenia), 1/3 forearm left (-3.5) osteoporosis. I have severe bone loss, and poor gum health following 19 years prescribed Soft, xanax, ambiem, methadone for degenerative disc disease, stinosis, diagnosed with Total spine impairment in 2008. Off all medications since 2003. Walking on my own now! No walker, no cane, and love your website. Thank you Vivian for sound advice.

    • Courtney

      Do the doctors say there is a link between ambien and osteoporosis? I’ve been on it on and off for almost 20 years. I have horrible sleep mostly due to my anxiety and panic disorders. I have osteoporosis and only 37 but due to steroid medications throughout my life.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Jo, that is so inspiring! Thank you for sharing.

  2. annabelle

    Not so easy with a right shoulder replacement but will definitely persevere as I really need an exercise like this one. Many thanks.

  3. Raquel

    I love all the suggested exercises. Easy to follow and the animation is super !!! Thanks for all your hard work to show how much u care. Blessings to u..

  4. Judy

    I have broke both of my hips and am concerned about the jumping exercises and their effect on my hip replacements. Any suggestions on what exercises may be best for someone with 2 artificial hips?

  5. Rosa Shreeves

    I have bilateral osteoarthritus in my hips. As a dance artist I am familiar with many of the Save our Bones exercises which are helpful with their 3 a week format. However doing the jumping ones is painful. I walk and do exercises every day and have upped my food intake and taken Vit D since October. I really do not want to take conventional medecine for my advanced osteoporosis. Maybe another bone scan soon?? Any advice, sharing experiences welcome.
    How do I find this? Many thanks for all the material.

    Rosa Shreeves

  6. Marion


    You should try the biodensity machine and the power plate.

  7. Nathalie Webb

    Hi Vivian,
    I am trying to cope with my anxiety about my recent very low BMD result by doing your exercises. Afraid to take Bisphosphonates. I understood that bending forward is not a good idea? Maybe as this exercise is floor based it does not strain the back because it is placing less pressure on the vertebrae than bending forward from a standing position. I have arthritis too. So have to be mindful of that.

  8. bea mowry

    hi vivian i so look forward to your exerices i exercise everyday at the y but i a always looking for new oneuse to the same ones all the time s to do so my body doesent get use to the same ones all the time thank you so much bea

  9. Joyce

    Hi, I tried Boniva & immediately felt terrible the whole month. I quit taking it & now would like to know how much calcium & what kind I should be taking & anything besides strength training I could do to help my bone density. Thanks.

  10. Bonnie kobak

    I live in New York City and would like to work with someone to help build bone. Can anyone recommend. My doctors say I must take something for osteoporosis and I’m wary but don’t want to be heedless. Thank you for great exercises. Bonnie

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Welcome, Bonnie. The Save Our Bones community is worldwide, and you’ll find plenty of support and free information here. 🙂 Remember, whether or not to take osteoporosis drugs is entirely your choice, not your doctor’s.

  11. Sylvia Membrino

    I look forward to your encouraging emails, which are a great help to me. Staying fit and balancing our diet is a daily challenge for everyone.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You are welcome, Sylvia, and I’d like to encourage you to continue rising to the challenge!

      • Grace Aisuisu

        Hi Vivian, thanks for update very good information. I find doing some exersice difficult as am in pain, I do walk daily which i know is not enough. I also fear breaking bone. Grace

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