Weekend Challenge: The Back Flattener - Save Our Bones

As you surely noticed, we did not post a Weekend Challenge over the July 4th holiday. But now we’re getting back into the swing of things, so let’s jump right in with an exercise that improves and corrects your posture.

It targets the upper back, which contains the thoracic vertebrae, and is the site of the “slump” that can degenerate into the dreaded kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump). With moves like The Back Flattener, you can counteract postural issues such as Forward Head Posture (FHP), rounded shoulders, and kyphosis.

And while Savers know full well that the best way to rejuvenate posture and bones is with exercise and nutrition, there’s a shocking study I share with you that reveals prescription drugs caused millions of deaths in just one year (no, this is not a typo!).

But first, I’d to discuss why the upper back is so important to address with targeted exercise.


The cervical and thoracic vertebrae – that is, the bones of the neck and upper back – tell a visual story of your posture. Other people can easily see if your shoulders are rounded or your head is poked forward, especially if viewed from the side.

A head that pokes forward (Forward Head Posture, or FHP) is often the beginning of shoulder-rounding. As we lean forward to look at our computers, phones, and other devices, we unknowingly engage in FHP.

When the head gets thrust forward, the thoracic vertebrae follow. And the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and upper back pull tight to compensate, causing pain and discomfort. This kind of postural misalignment increases the chances of bone density loss in the vertebrae, because the pressure of muscle on bone – essential to the building up of bone – is happening in all the wrong places.

When FHP is practiced habitually, the rounded shoulders characteristic of kyphosis begin to develop.

Kyphosis can also result from simple slumping – the sort of postural mistake your mother may have warned you about when she said to sit up straight.

The thing about posture is that it is more than just an appearance issue. In addition to the pain it can cause, rounded, humped shoulders and FHP can affect your breathing and digestion. As your chest collapses inward and your upper back rounds out, you can’t draw as deep a breath. Your digestive organs get cramped as well.

Deep breathing alkalizes the body, thus promoting bone health, and of course sound digestion is essential for your bones to receive the nutrients from bone-smart foods.

The good news is, poor posture is fixable. Targeted exercises like today’s challenge can prevent and reverse FHP, slumped shoulders, and kyphosis. The Back Flattener opens and lifts your chest so you can breathe deeply, and it aligns your spine so your back muscles are putting pressure in the correct areas, stimulating bone growth and strength in your vertebrae.


If you do not have a carpet, you will probably find this exercise more comfortable with an exercise mat. You may place a pillow under your pelvis for stability and comfort if you like.

  1. Lie on your stomach with your forehead touching the floor.
  2. Rest your arms on the floor at your side, and bend your elbows so your hands are near your ears.
  3. Raise your arms up off the floor, getting your elbows fairly high. Keep your arms bent but level; there should be a straight line from elbow to wrist, and from shoulder to elbow.
  4. As you lift, exhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  5. Hold for a moment, and then lower your arms to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat 10-20 times, or whatever you’re comfortable with.

I like to combine this exercise with similar postural moves like The Thoracic Spine Strengthener. It’s important to do all you can to build your bones with nutrition and exercise if you want to avoid dangerous prescription drugs.

Just how dangerous they are has been unveiled by a reputable watchdog group.

Patient Safety Organization Calls Prescription Drugs One Of The Top Dangers To Human Health

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, or ISMP, does not mince words in its recent report that comes to this conclusion about prescription drugs:

“…drug therapy stands as one of the most significant perils to health resulting from human activity.”1

The ISMP report comes to this conclusion in light of rising death and injury rates resulting from prescription drug use. In 2011, anywhere from 2 to 4 million people in the U.S. were the victims of injury resulting in disability or death. This information is all the more sobering considering that the percentage of the population taking a prescription drug (48%) and the number of outpatient prescriptions dispensed (3.6 billion) remained largely the same.

So adopting a bone-smart nutritional and exercise plan to avoid the side effects and dangers of prescription osteoporosis drugs (which research has shown do not help your bone health at all), is vital.

Avoid Dangerous Drugs By Following This “Prescription”

At Save Our Bones we believe whole-heartedly in the power of the individual to make his or her own health choices. Being able to make those choices based on sound, scientifically-proven information gives you peace of mind and confidence.

That’s why both the Osteoporosis Reversal Program and the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System are based on verifiable scientific data and research. As you rejuvenate your bones drug-free, you can be confident that your health choices are backed by countless studies and solid research.

As always, I welcome your comments on today’s topic. I love it when the community shares information and experience with each other!

Have a great weekend!


1 “Anticoagulants the Leading Reported Drug Risk in 2011.” QuarterWatch: Monitoring FDA MedWatch Reports. ISMP. May 31, 2012. PDF. https://www.omsj.org/reports/2011Q4.pdf

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Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Pam

    I was wondering if Joy’s question from July 10, 2015 has been addressed.

  2. Mary Derksen

    Thank you for the exercises. I have no osteoporosis, but my friends do, so I forward your emails to them. Perhaps some have already commented?

    I do have hiatel hernia, and found some excercises on the internet.
    Do you have some exercises for hernia?

  3. min

    I have severe reflux and cannot tolerate fruit, or any acidic vegetables, chocolate, caffeeiune, alcohol, friend foods, garlic, onions… and I am a pescatarian. What kind of diet could I assemble to help with my osteoporosis? I walk 4-5 mi a day and avoid tap water.

  4. Rona Yates

    I read your posts with interest, I wonder if being on steroids a drug that is totally necessary for my condition.yet will affect my bones. If I follow your directions I will help my bone structure

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Rona,
      Steroids, especially prednisone, can damage bone. But that’s all the more reason to adopt a pH-balanced diet and bone-healthy lifestyle to offset the damaging effects of the drug.

  5. jenny ramsay

    I have been following the Save Our Bones programme for some time now and find it tremendously helpful and supportive. I am feeling so much stronger through the exercise and diet programme. An added bonus is that I have lost the excess weight I was carrying! I have the confidence to continue, even though I am not due another bone scan until next year, because of the constant positive feedback and stories from others on the programme and, of course, the regular news. Thank you.

  6. Norm

    My mother has severe osteo arthritis. She gets a cortisone shot every two weeks in each shoulder to relieve pain. She is 91. Please comment on this remedy. Thank you

  7. reena

    Hi, i have Lumbar Spinal Stenosis also some degeneration. i also have Osteo arthritis in my Spine & hips. What excercise would you suggest. in a lot of pain. Thank you. Reena

  8. Betty

    Thanks for Back Flattener. Will look forward to perusing it. Sounds very interesting. So helpful.

  9. Isobel Mc Donald

    After being very pleased with myself because I had been told that my bone density had increased , reality checked in when once again. I had to go through another round of skin cancer treatment -6 excisions and 17 shavings – thanks to a childhood spent on the beach & in the surf long before there was any such thing of suncream. Then 25 years spent in Papua New Guinea where we waterskied every weekend. I was recently quite surprised when after my latest check the Skin Specialist said and look into lifting my Vitamin D intake. I replied that I spent about 4 hours a day out in my garden here in Far North Queensland. Only to be told that if I was using my Suncream as directed I would not be getting any natural Vitamin D. Still at 78 I wouldn’t have missed out on any of my lifes adventure. Thanks to your program I am still very active.

  10. clint

    After reading about all of the skeletal problems I
    Have to wonder why diet is ignored…especially the fact that on of the primary causes of osteoporosis is milk and artery obstruction is milk. The normal diet provides sufficient calcium but without magnesium, boron and other nutrients it makes bones brittle and clogs arteries.

  11. Kathy

    I’m confused. In number 3 it says there should be a straight line from elbow to wrist and from shoulder to elbow. Isn’t this always true, no matter what position you are in? unless of course you have a broken arm….

    Do you mean that the forearms should remain parallel to the floor?

    Please clarify, thanks!

  12. Isabel

    my score -2.7 in my spine , plus I have hernia hiatal , I took every day Dexilant 60mg , I do your diet, is dexilant really but for my bones? Please let me know what I do?

  13. Mary jean

    As a side note….It is important to recognize that when sitting, good posture is related to what you are sitting on, not what is behind you. 99% of all chair seats are a little lower in back than they are in front. This causes your pelvis to roll backwards, flattening out your lower back and you head to jut forward.

  14. Gertrude "Trudy"

    Please name 2 or 3 sources which provide the right proportions and qualities of tocotrienols and tocopherols. Almost none say how much of each is needful, nor how much of each is provided. Your article also did not get specific enough. One article from another source did say that all eight are needed and must be in the right proportions. They did not get specific, either.
    Also…all the back exercises and chiropractic and osteomanipulation therapy did not straighten up my back longer than 2 weeks at a time. What did work was to go on super greens powder with probiotics and prebiotics in it, plus PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) to help make more cell mitrochondria (they decline with age), its helper DMAE, green-lipped mussel, astragalus to lengthen telomeres, and mouth-absorbed B12 (methylcobalamin)/ B6 (P-5-P)/folate (not folic acid) with N-acetyl-l-carnetine, plus getting off fluoridated water.For the first time in years, I could stand up straight, walk without stooping and shuffling, go up and down stairs without joint pain and weakness, and could sweep an entire room at a time without stopping.
    When I drank fluoride tap water again, the back and joint pains returned and I now shuffle and stoop again.
    The vitamin E foods list is very helpful, but those foods are not always fresh enough to do as much good as they might. A guest chef interviewed by Mike Adams on Natural News stated some years back that dark leafy greens lose up to 50% of their nutrient value within 6 hours after being harvested. None of us can be assured of getting freshly-picked foods even at Farmers’ Markets.
    So please discuss how we can get around these obstacles.
    Your unbiased and honest presentation of facts is so much help, and few other sites discuss the practical aspects as you do..

  15. Helen

    I am 73. I have had both a lumbar compression fracture and a thoracic compression fracture in the past year due to osteoporosis. I worry about doing the exercises you suggest. I have had two rounds of physical therapy, one for each fracture. The lumbar fracture has healed, the thoracic is healing.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Your physical therapist would be the one to give you the “okay” on this and other exercises, Helen. Your situation is unique to you, and your PT will know what moves are best (or could cause harm).

  16. shula

    A question regarding the back-flattener exercise: what are we supposed to do with the head, when raising the arms off the floor? Keep it down, or raise it together with the arms?


    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Shula,
      Good question! Keep your forehead on the floor throughout the exercise.

  17. marianne

    I so appreciate ALL of your work. It t-score of -4.3 in my spine, and 3.8 in my hip 15 months ago, I have faithfully been doing the Densercize program, trying to keep my diet as Alkaline as possible, and using AlgaeCal.
    i love the weekend challenge exercises, and wonder if at some time you are going to enhance the Densercize booklet. It would be a great addition to include so many of these ‘newer’ exercises in the 4week program….perhaps a 6 week program?
    Thank you for your dedication,

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for your feedback, Marianne! A 6-week program is an idea. In the meantime, the Weekend Challenges make an excellent addition to Densercise. 🙂

  18. Anne Pertuset

    Hello, I have been trying to follow you exercises. At this moment it is not easy. I injured myself, pushed a heavy box and caused tear in the muscle in my chest. It is painful and will take at least 6 weeks to heal. I am trying to sit and do that exercise, but that is sort of painful also. I am 81 years old, I know I have osteoporosis, but am doing my best to stay strong. Any exercise suggestions that will not cause excruciating pain?

    • Joy

      July 10, 2015, 6:18 pm
      I had a compression fracture of T12 and L1 right after I finished six months of chemo in March.The doctor told me today I must have Actonel if I won’t take the Forteo. My hips are -5 and L1 is -4. They said my hips were the worst case they’d ever seen and that I could have a lethal fracture at any moment. She actually jumped all over me when I said I didn’t want to take them. I am down to 82 pounds since the chemo, surgeries and the fracture. They are scaring me to death. I don’t want to take those drugs but they claim I am at very high risk for another fracture and death. How do you deal with that? How quickly would your program begin to rebuild bones? And how long does it take before one is not at such high risk for another fracture?
      Thank you.

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