Weekend Challenge: Thoracic Spine Strengthener - Save Our Bones

This weekend’s exercise, Thoracic Spine Strengthener, strengthens a deep muscle system of the back that’s crucial to achieving and maintaining proper posture. It also holds the vertebrae in place and prevents and corrects Forward Head Posture.

When I practice this exercise I also notice that it relieves tension, so I know you’ll feel great after you try it.

Let's get started…


Good posture gives you a confident, youthful look, and that’s a good thing. But it’s equally (if not more) important to strengthen muscles and bones in the upper back to avoid kyphosis (Dowager’s Hump) and to increase vertebral strength.

The Thoracic Spine Strengthener works the erector spinae, deep muscles that actually begin at the sacral vertebrae, the very last bones of the spine before the coccyx (tail bone). It includes tendons as well.

It targets mostly the top part of the erector spinae, known as the thoracic extensor muscles. These muscles extend up to the neck, as I noted above; so this weekend’s exercise also works the muscles in the neck, directly counteracting Forward Head Posture (FHP), often a precursor to kyphosis.

At the lower back, the erector spinae divides into three muscles (the Iliocostalis, Longissimus, and Spinalis), each consisting of three parts. They run all the way up to the neck, and attach to the vertebrae along various points in between. The erector spinae is involved in turning, twisting, and straightening the back.


A carpeted floor or Yoga mat works fine for this exercise.

  1. Lie on your stomach.
  2. Bend your elbows and overlap your hands on the floor in front of you.
  3. Lay your forehead on your fingers.
  4. Pull your tummy in toward your spine – if you are lean, your stomach will be lifted up off the floor. This is to prevent your lower back from arching as you perform this move.
  5. With your hands still touching your forehead, bring your arms and head up about 5-6 inches off the floor.
  6. Gently lower your head and hands back to the floor.
  7. Repeat 10 times, or as many times as you comfortably can.

The Many Benefits Of Good Posture

As mentioned earlier, there’s no doubt that excellent posture gives you an air of confidence, and makes you appear younger and more sure of yourself. But there are some aspects of excellent posture that you may not have thought of before.

Consider these benefits:

  • Better breathing results from having your body upright and straight. Your ribs are able to open up, and your lungs have plenty of room to expand. And as Savers know, deep breathing alkalizes the blood.
  • Proper posture is crucial for preventing kyphosis, as it directly counteracts the hunched-forward, rounded-shoulders position associated with this issue.
  • Balance is enhanced when you are holding yourself erect. And good balance is vital for preventing falls that could result in a fracture.
  • It’s been scientifically shown to improve your mood! (More on that later).

Study Shows That Mood And Posture Are Interconnected

In a fascinating experiment, researchers at Queen’s University asked a group of volunteers to walk in a “depressed” way, slumped over and shuffling. They asked another group to walk in a “perkier” way, with shoulders back and a light step. More experiments were performed on a treadmill, and volunteers were given a list of positive and negative words while they walked.

Amazingly, the participants who walked in a depressed way remembered more negative words, and the opposite was true for the happy-style walkers. The data, published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, suggest that the walking style actually created a corresponding mood.1 Isn’t this alone a good reason to work on your posture?

If you have the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, then you know that many of the moves are specifically designed to improve posture. Exercises like Parade March, Flying Snow Angels, and Sit To Stand (to name a few) target posture and offset the hunched effects of FHP.

So if you don’t have the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System yet, please don’t hesitate to get proactive about your posture and your bones today.

Get The Most Effective Posture Exercises!

Learn the 52 exercise moves that improve posture and jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.

Learn More Now →

Enjoy the weekend!


1 Michalak, Johannes, et al. “How we walk affects what we remember: Gait modifications through biofeedback change negative affective memory bias.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. March 2015. Vol 46, pp 121-125. Web. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005791614000809

The Top 14 Things You’re Doing That Are Damaging Your Bones... And More!

  • Stop The Bone Thieves! report
  • Email course on how to prevent and reverse bone loss
  • Free vital osteoporosis news and updates.
Get It Free Now

Comments on this article are closed.

  1. Susan

    I do a similar exercise from my PT but not so often. I’m encouraged to make these two a habit because my posture is bad and contributing to my arthritis . My PT says when lifting up your back and shoulders not to tighten the buttocks but to keep them relaxed . It makes it harder and you have to engage the upper back muscles when not using the legs somehow.

  2. Meoo

    I don’t recommend this exercise for anyone with disc/ spine issues it puts too much strain on your spine. I tried it and had to stop immediately due to pain. I had the same problem with another exercise which was meant to open up the shoulder and thoracic area. That one I was able to do but I had terrible spasms later. My advice us to consult a physical therapist on the best exercises for you and to start very slowly with simple strengthening moves, don’t overdo it.

  3. laura

    Thank you Vivian, your exercises and general advice is so inspirational,
    it helps me get back on track when I feel like giving up!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Great to hear, Laura! I love to help inspire the Saver community. Sometimes, a little encouragement is just the thing to help us stay motivated.

  4. bea mowry

    i dont know i other way to get this message to vivian but i would like to know why i dont get your e-mail any more i never got your exercise for this week have you taken me of your mailing list i sure hope not i hope i get an answer rightaway please bea

  5. Sandra

    I would like to share with Kathryn. Vivian does a wonderful job helping with osteoporosis suggestions. There are other sites to help with MS. I recommend Dr Swank’s method. As far as diabetes or heart problems I recommend Forks Over Knives. Have you seen the movie? We live in a wonderful day and age to have so many professionals help us cure our diseases naturally. Stick to natural remedies and your life will be so much better. Don’t get discouraged or give up or get infuriated with people who are trying to help. We need them and their help. I wish you the best.

  6. Kathryn


    Some of your exercises are some help, others I am unable to perform. However, it is your postings and overall advice that I sometimes find infuriating. How, why, and what type of so called research are you referring to that would in any way equate depression with hunched posture and shuffling ?!
    I am highly insulted as you do NOT take the needs and medical profiles of people into account. I do have osteopenia, on and off fosamax for 12 years, refuse any more bone drugs. I have had type I diabetes for 45 years as of today, now very well controlled via insulin pump. But I also have secondary progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) that makes ALL aspects of walking, balance, and coordination very compromised. I cannot physically lift my feet over the ground soot is virtually impossible to avoid shuffling. This is with going to physical therapy on and off for three years. Obviously, I lean forward because my proprietary sense is so compromised. Tell me in your infinite wisdom how I am supposed to avoid shuffling when three years of PT cannot help me?
    I also live with major depression as well as bipolar disorder, these conditions are well as my diabetes are GENETICALLY based. So whenever you see a person who may be shuffling, think twice about labeling them as a depressed person which you make sound as someone who is worthless. I always had a bouncing step, forward stride, and upward look until I got MS 10 years ago. I do what I can do which will not ever be what it was like 10+ years ago.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for your feedback, Kathryn. The Weekend Challenges are exercise information intended for the general public, so naturally some moves will not be applicable to everyone. Information about mood and walking is interesting, and certainly not intended to make anyone feel bad about their gait! You sound like a fighter, and I congratulate you on your determination and hard work through your various challenges.

  7. Cheryl

    This exercise is the exact OPPOSITE of what my research (I am in health care field), therapist, and neurosurgeon told me post-cervical disc surgery. If you only have thoracic issues, (I have disc replacement in cervical; two thoracic partial ruptures; one lumbar….thoracic disc issues are not the “norm” and yes, strengthening for posture is excellent, but the worse thing you can do is to “look up” or bend your neck up like that. I am ten year with these issues, age 53, and never ever saw this recommended.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thanks for your input, Cheryl. The more information, the more informed decisions can be made. 🙂

  8. Mary kiernan

    I have fractured l1 vertibrae and have just finished 8wks of physical therapy. Do you recommend getting a physical trainer to work with.?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      I am so sorry to hear about your fracture, Mary! A physical trainer can certainly help you in determining what exercises are right for you. You could even discuss Densercise with him or her, and find out which exercises would work best for your particular situation.

  9. bobbi

    Hi Vivien,
    I read all your eblasts and always find them interesting and informative. And I share some of them with my girl buddies.
    Here’s something I’ve been meaning to ask for a long time with reference to some of the exercise recommendations. Like for instance today’s. What if a person cannot get on the floor? How else might this exercise be performed?
    Thanks for all you do,

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Hi Bobbi,
      I am so glad to hear you’re sharing the information with your friends! As I said to Carol below, if you can’t do a particular Weekend Challenge, there is likely a challenge that targets the same muscle groups that you can do. You’ll also find plenty of options in Densercise and Posture Confidence. 🙂

      • Betty

        I can’t understand the criticism of those unable to do the exercises presented. They are for the benefit of those who can use them and should be disregarded by those who can’t. I’m sure there is no expectation that they will be suitable for everyone’s benefit. There are certainly enough from which to choose.

    • glolouise@hotmail.co.uk

      Can you improve or reverse Kyphosis.—- I am VERY round shouldered. and I do not want to get any worse. I am a very active 80 year old I go to Pilate classes average ages 50 to 60 I have no problem keeping up with all exercises. Any input PLEASE


  10. Sue

    We do this exercise in my Pilates class at my gym, but we keep our arms at our sides with palms facing inward. Does it matter which position the arms are in to get the full benefit?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      The position of the arms will affect which muscles are being used and how, but there are benefits to doing it both ways. I prefer this version because it allows for more stability, which is important for those who might be dealing with posture issues. 🙂

  11. Carol

    It looks like a good one but because I can’t lay on my stomach, I wonder if this exercise can also be done someway while sitting or standing. Since I fell down the stairs many years ago and fractured my T12 vertebrae, I never could lie comfortably on my sides or my stomach. Sleeping on my back is the only position where I feel relief from pressure pain.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Don’t worry if you can’t do this one, Carol. There are plenty of other exercises you can do to help prevent kyphosis – I suggest you use the Search feature on this page to check out the various Weekend Challenges. And of course, Posture Confidence and Densercise have plenty of upper-back exercises that do not involve lying on your stomach. 🙂

      • Carol

        Thank you Vivian!

  12. Jenny Ramsay

    I found Save Our Bones last Autumn and haven’t looked back. My doctor is sceptical since I came off the Fosamax which made me ill. I feel so well on the recommended foods and much stronger since I started doing the exercises. I am looking forward to a healthy future. Of course what I am really looking forward to is the result of my next bone scan later this year!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Keep up the good work and the positive attitude, Jenny!

  13. wendy allen

    I already have a fracture of the spine due to osteoporosis are these exercises safe to do?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Wendy, if you have existing fractures, you should always check with your physical therapist or doctor before you do any exercise. You don’t want to hurt yourself!

Get Started With Your FREE
Natural Bone Building Kit.

Get a free copy of our ‘Stop The Bone Thieves’ eBook, exclusive content that you can’t find anywhere else, plus vital osteoporosis news and updates.

Get It Free

Get Your Free Bone-Building Kit


‘Stop The Bone Thieves’ guide, exclusive info, plus vital osteoporosis news and updates.