Weekend Challenge: Upper Back And Shoulder Straightener - Save Our Bones

This weekend’s challenge is a posture improver, intended to flatten the upper back by pushing back the shoulders and curving the spine forward (the opposite of the slumped, rounded-out spinal position so common today).

This is an effective move to counteract kyphosis, Forward Head Posture, and other conditions associated with slouching. Also, it’s appropriate for all fitness levels, and believe me, it’s more challenging than it first appears!


You might be wondering why there are so many Weekend Challenges that focus on posture. The simple answer is: because it is crucial!

The truth is that posture has a profound effect on your bone health, but also so much more. Here are some little-known reasons why good posture matters so much.


When you’re in a slouched position, your lungs can’t expand to draw a deep breath. Your diaphragm muscle is compressed, so it can’t do its job in helping you draw in a deep breath. Shallow breathing acidifies the body because it allows carbon dioxide to accumulate. This can cause metabolic acidosis, a situation that requires your body to pull buffering minerals out of your bones to correct the imbalance.

On the other hand, deep breathing alkalizes your system, which stops bone loss by creating an environment that does not require your bones to “donate” calcium.

“Good Stress” On Bones

Aligned bones are positioned so that the force of muscles and gravity stimulates bone growth and strength. When your shoulders are rounded or your head is poked forward as in Forward Head Posture (FHP), the bones and joints of the spine, shoulders, arms, ribs, and chest are all out of alignment. So movement that would have normally stimulated bone growth, can cause inflammation and pain instead. And your bones can’t build properly without the stress necessary to stimulate them in the right places.


Chances are you haven’t thought about digestive health in relation to posture. But consider this: when you’re hunched over, your abdomen is greatly compressed, making it much harder for your digestive organs to function properly. Good digestion is essential for the absorption of nutrients your bones must have to rejuvenate and stay strong.

Avoiding Dowager’s Hump (Kyphosis)

Poor posture can hasten the appearance of kyphosis (the dreaded Dowager’s Hump), a condition that’s associated with aging and osteoporosis. As the thoracic and cervical vertebrae remain in a forward-hunched position for many hours a day, the muscles that normally hold them in place grow weak and become stretched. The shoulder joints become rounded and deformed, the ribs compress, and the chest collapses inward, creating a hunchbacked appearance.

Improved Emotional And Psychological Health

One really fascinating aspect of posture is that it can affect our mental state. Not surprisingly, people who feel more confident and energetic have a more upright posture. But what may come as a surprise to you is that the reverse is also true: walking with proper posture can improve our mood.

An intriguing study shows this connection – participants who walked in a slumped, shuffling manner remembered more negative words from a list than those who walked in an upright, energetic fashion.1

And this is about more than appearing confident. Our bones are negatively impacted by depression and sadness. So an improved mood is an important component of bone health, adding yet another reason for achieving proper posture.

Less Back Pain

Misaligned vertebrae and slumped shoulders are very painful. Even though you may be unaware of it, your muscles are constantly straining to bring your skeleton back into alignment, pulling against gravity all the while. With good posture, gravity works with you to allow a relaxed, balanced stance that doesn’t require constant muscle strain.

Look Younger And Thinner

A hunchbacked posture is inevitably associated with age; a stooped, bent position adds years to your appearance. Poor posture can also appear to add pounds, because your abdomen “pooches” out under the compression. In addition, bad posture takes inches off your height, making you look shrunken. But when you stand up straight and hold your abs in and your shoulders back (in an easy stance, not forced), you immediately look much younger. And as the research shows, you feel younger, too!

So if you’re ready to look and feel younger, thinner, and more positive and energetic, grab an exercise mat and get started!


  1. Lie on your stomach with your chin slightly above the floor (don’t let any part of your head touch the floor).
  2. Interlace your fingers behind your head, or place your hands behind your head so the fingertips lightly touch.
  3. Keeping your chin just above the floor and your hands behind your head, lift your elbows up and back, slightly above the level of your upper back.
  4. Lift your elbows eight to 10 times, stopping if it feels uncomfortable or painful.

Advanced Version

If you’d like to add a little extra toning to this move, extend your legs straight out behind you and lift your feet off the floor, pointing your toes and keeping your legs straight. Hold this position while you lift your elbows.

This works the glutes, or buttocks muscles, and aids pelvic alignment.

As you can see, this exercise directly counteracts the rounded shoulders and back that occur with poor posture. It curves the spine in the opposite direction, and brings the shoulder joints back into alignment by working the muscles that hold them in place.

For more back-flattening moves, you can also do these Weekend Challenges: the Easy Posture Adjuster and the Workday Posture Straightener.

Good Posture Helps Many Aspects Of Your Health, Including Your Bones

As you can see, good posture covers quite an array of health issues. The way you hold your body has a profound impact on your well-being and your bone health, making good posture an important goal in your fight against osteoporosis.

In addition to moves specifically designed to strengthen bones and increase their density, the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System contains plenty of postural exercises, so you can strengthen the muscles that hold your spine, shoulders, and head in place.

You can practice the Densercise™ exercises anytime, anywhere, and it only takes three 15-minute sessions per week to see results!

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.

Learn More Now →

Have a great 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/S00057916140008090

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Comments on this article are closed.

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  2. Barbara

    What exercises are good to get rid of belly fat and get waist line back?

  3. Maria

    Hola Vivían gracias por ayudarnos tanto muchas bendiciones.
    Si puedes ayudarme con lo siguiente, por desconocimiento me deje aplicar acto zoledronico dos años seguidos la última aplicación anual inyectable fue en enero de 2016. Yo voy a comprar el trueosteo por amazon,(porque por tú página no me ha sido posible comprarlo, no registra, y no se si por amazon me darán el bono del 20%) pero según leí que no me sirve porque el calcio porque se me aplicó este medicamento, y que no se asimila,que sólo sirve después de 6 meses de haber parado la toma lo leí en algaecal. Tu qué opinas necesito tomar el calcio organico, o que me recomiendas ayúdame por favor. Gracias.

  4. Peggy

    Vivian, I love your information and I am so happy to have found you. I am one under pressure to start Prolia which I refuse to. I have found a great program I want to share. Classical stretch and eccentrics by Miranda Esmond-White. It truly has changed my body at 66. The exercises are in 20 minute segments for all ages and fitness levels. I have done it for 3 years. I also want to ask you about taking calcium anymore? I have read recently that it is not doing anything to build bones!!

    • Susan


      I am in the same boat as you. I am 67 and after Boniva for many years I got a not so good Dexa score. So immediately my Doctor said to start Prolia. Well, I read many articles on the internet and decided that I did not want to poison my body. So I have been searching for an alternative. I found this site of save our bones and decided to join, get in book etc. and go for it. I figured that this made more sense than taking Prolia. As soon as the book comes I will start. Could we keep in touch and help each other with this program? How long have you been doing the program?

      If you wish not to email me that is fine. .But I hope you do. I think we could encourage each other and trade ideas.

  5. Della

    A profound “THANK YOU!” for your teaching such results-producing exercises. Each is well-explained and demonstrated perfectly. My tension and pained body joints and bones are definitively more flexible and pain-lessened. I am grateful and will share the goodness of your work by passing on your website and newsletter information to others.
    Della Verdugo

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Thank you so much for your encouragement and dedication, Della! It warms my heart to know these exercises are such an important part of your bone health journey.

  6. Marlene

    I have had a problem before but now my neck is really forward will this ever get better?

  7. Diana H.

    Thank you so much Vivian for these exercises. I needed them and will be trying them and the FHP one.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Good to hear, Diana!

      • jo

        Hi this is Joy, would like to know how to send for Miranda Esmond stretch exercises recommended by Diana, Sep 3. Also im taking calcium magnesium citrate for osteoporosis. Doctor recommended calcium 1500 mg daily. Is this necessary? I did tell doctor I would not take prescription bone replacement treatmeny for osteoporosis. My sincere thanks for your wonderful site

  8. Teresa Ochoa

    This is a similar exercise i practice with a dvd that targets, legs, arms, hips, and tummy. However, i try to be very careful since one day doing too many abdominal plus that i got a problem with neck pain. So, now what i do is to practice these back exercises when i do not do the abdominal exercises.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      It’s very good to listen to your body, Teresa, and determine what exercises work best for you.

  9. Cohen yvonne

    Thank you just starting bone health exercises, Dr suggest to start Prolia, but I’M going to wait to see if build my own bone health..

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      You’re welcome, Cohen! I commend you on your decision to look for alternatives to drugs first. 🙂

  10. Li

    Do not think I can do this exercise w/o hurting neck?
    Can try lying on bed instead of floor?

    Have scoleosis.

    Another exercise ?

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA

      Please be careful, Li – if you have scoliosis, then you’ll want to check with your doctor or physical therapist to be certain this exercise (or any exercise) is right for you. If it hurts your neck, then definitely stop!

      • Estelle

        Please put me on you mailing list for the emails. Regards Estelle

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