Posture - Mid Back Exercises

Hey everyone,

I read a number of posts from people asking how to correct their posture. I would also like to correct mine and it seems that the general concensus is that one must strengthen their back muscles (particularly the mid-back muscles) and stretch more often (especially in the butt/upper hamstring area). While this information seems correct, I would like some suggestions on exercises and stretch I can do to target these specific regions listed above. The more descriptive the better so I can use correct form. Appreciate the help.

You need to identify your imbalances first.

The training of proper posture is in fact a theme that works its way through every properly designed program. Posture is an interesting thing - it is a lifetime of habits that isn’t merely corrected by a series of training protocols. I would be happy to help and oddly enough I am writing about that right now to some amount but - the first step isn’t in the training room but in every step of your day. Does that make sense - just ask and I will help.

In faith,

Coach Davies

Thanks coach. That being said what information do I need to provide to you so that we can assess where I need correction, etc?

One mid back exercise I have done for a while that has improved my posture greatly is Scapular Wall Slides (featured in issue 278, “Back on Track” by Mike Robertson).

Try to do it synaptic facilitation style, as in do a couple sets of this every day. Definitely a nice exercise to do for a break if you’re busy typing at a computer all day too.


I would take a multi-pronged approach to your problem. Here are a few ideas:

Scapular wall slides are a great exercise. I would also perform some rope pulls to the face, and maybe some scapular depressions on a lat pulldown machine. That should thoroughly tax your upper back.

Next, you need to make sure you work on relaxing the chest and all internal rotators. Stretch the pecs/anterior deltoids and lats (they are also internal rotators). You can also lay a foam roller long ways along your spine and lay the back of your arms/hands on the ground. This will help open up the chest and relax the anterior portion of your trunk.

Lastly, check your hips. Usually people that are kyphotic in the upper back are also hyperlordotic in the lower back (e.g. the have a big arch). This is a natural compensation, so check the hips as well. You may need to work on your hip flexor if this is the case.

Stay strong
Mike Robertson

I’d also check out the Ian King article from two weeks ago. Out of Kilter

could poor posture be attributed to weak upper back paired with strong pecs? I think thats the case with me.keeping my back in perfect posture is very tiring for me and feels unnatural, after all these years of bad posture…

You might want to get some ankle strapping tape and run it across the upper back/shoulders. Ian King touts this approach. When you round your shoulders, it pulls the tape which reminds you to keep your shoulders back. The first 2-3 days are absolutely brutal but gets easier after that. The foam roller is good too.

any time a sart back doing deadlifts my rounded shoulders sort them selves out with in weeks

Soccergod - what was brought up by “trying2getbig” is in-fact the key in much of your training of improving posture. Prescribing exercises, sets & reps will help to correct problems but must be accompanied with proper posture throughout the day.

From another very important point that you should realize that correct posture is a central theme that should cut through your exercise program and compliance and because of this - every element of what I term the “wheel of conditioning” comes into play. I will be pleased to discuss more because this is a huge area and in-fact there is an upcoming article dealing with this area.

Re your personal situation - try to fill me in on your present training and I will assist. And yeah, as a “soccergod” proper posture is even that much more important for you on the pitch!

In faith,

Coach Davies

I do lots of work with posture problems.

As has been said the posture problems you’re having with your upper back are probably causing or caused by problems further down.

Get to work stretching the hips. See if you can stengthen your lower abdominals. You probably wont be able to use regular lower ab stuff though as your psoas will probably do most of the work. A great exercise to separate hip flexion and posterior pelvic tilt is the swiss ball jacknife.

Also work on the four point tummy vaccum, this will work you TVA but will also help with lower abs and lumbar multifidis as they are controlled by the same nerves.

Where do your feet point when you walk?

Thanks for replying everyone.

In response to Coach Davies, I try to stay aware of my posture when sitting, bending, etc. As dumb as this sounds, what is the proper way to bend for things on the floor? When I sit down or bend, I get a line across where my belly button is…I hate this line! Also, when I sit, what can I do to ensure my posture is aligned properly, etc. HELP! ;)~

Here is my personal training regimen:
Tues, Thurs, Sat: Plyometrics - involving jumping rope, speed hurdles, sprints, jumps with “Jump Soles”, partner assisted stretching, abs using the Swiss ball (lower abs accentuated)

Monday: off day (post game)
Wednesday: Distance run for 30-45 min (if my legs feel ok), stretching, abs w/ swiss ball
Fri: Distance Run, stretching, abs w/ swiss ball
Sunday: Game day (soccer), stretching

For at least 3 days a week I stretch w/ a few people who are top level in karate; so they are very flexible and know how to stretch properly.

I am very fit cardiovascularly and only recently have I started lifting light weights for muscular endurance. I am going to preseason in January (for soccer) so I want to be as prepared as possible. I still would like to increase my flexibility even though it is pretty good right now.

Could you guys point me in the right direction of what stretches, ab exercises, and strengthening techniques I should be doing to improve my posture. Please describe the techniques as in depth as possible (if you have pictures to illustrate this, that would be great).

Pikeking: My feet point straight when I walk. How do I do the jacknife properly? What lower ab exercises can I do that wont involve my hip-flexors, or legs…sometimes I feel my legs get involved too much.

Here are my stats:
5’10, 170 lbs, 10% bf (Id like to reduce this to 5%). If you have other questions or info you need from me to address my problem, please ask and Ill respond regarding it

Abs are too strong, mid back is too weak.

Rows, Deadlifts, Pull-ups, Hyper-extensions will all help strength your whole back.

Focus on stretching your abs as you strengthen your back.

Watch your posture when you sit down on that couch. If you have a habit of slouching over, no exercise is gonna help you until you change your habit.

If you do have bad posture due to overly tight/strong internal rotators I would be very careful doing pull ups and rows. The lats are probably already to tight so those are not the exercises you want to be doing to fix your forward shoulder posture.

As for the Jacknife I’ll post a picture on the photo forum. Its on a swiss ball so its bound to get some flames!

Pikeking, Coach Davies, etc

Thanks for the help. Could you please also post pictures of stretches I should do to loosen up my hipflexors, high hamstring (butt area), and my lower back. I have a feeling that all of these area are tight from soccer and all the kicking/running I do. Also, if you have pictures of exercises I can do to strengthen my mid back (I think someone said somehting about wall slides), etc that would be Great! Thanks for all you help. I look forward to finally tackling this problem Ive been having w/ my posture. Please let me know when the pictures are up. Thanks all.


check out this link for Mike Robertson and his hip flexor stretch, its as good as any other.

For other stretches check out Ian Kings Lazy Guide to Stretcing and Coach D’s Man of Steel.

You dont need to do fancy stretches, you just need to do them.

Pikeking…thanks bud. I left you a post on the picture you put up. As I sit in my chair now I am being aware of my posture but one thing ive noticed is that when I lean back, it seems like my hips/pelvis kind of push up towards my belly button - thus not keeping my whole body aligned straight and causing that line btwn below my belly button and above…kinda like my body fat make a sorta roll (im not fat though - about 10-11% bf - 5’10-170lbs) Could this be that my legs and butt are so big from soccer that they automatically put my pelvis/hips/back in a bad alignment so that I cant sit properly? Id be interested in know what you think. If need be I can photgraph my posture as I sit and you can tell me what is wrong…kinda like a specific diagnosis for my case. Let me know if we need to go that route.

Take a picture if you can, I’m not sure I understand your description of whats happening.

Are you saying that when you lean back your pelvis doesnt go with the rest of your body, it kind of stays in place?
Do you sit with a flat back?

Try standing against a wall, how far can you press your palm into the arch of your back?

If you are serious about fixing this I would try and find specialist in your area, whether its a physio, personal trainer, whatever. Have them put you in an optimal postural position so you know what it feels like.

As far as how will it carry over to your sport? Remember posture is power. With perfect posture all the agonists,antagonists, neutralisers, stabilisers etc can function optimally. I’m a firm believer that if your posture isnt great you’ll never live up to your full potential.

Check out the practioner database on the chek institute website to see if there anyone in your area. A Chek Practioner will be able to help you, we spend a lot of time doing this sort of stuff.

Was going to be my suggestion to, go find a Chek Practioner, these problems are impossible to correct without in a proper postural assessment. Trainers in my gym are too quick to diagnos pelvic alingment without actually measuring pelvic tilt. As Paul Chek says ‘assess dont guess’.