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Back Stretch Over a Pillow

back extension over pillow
This back stretch over a pillow helps to reverse the kyphosis in the thoracic spine. While it is normal to have a kyphosis, gravity is always working to exaggerate it. Excessive kyphosis puts pressure on discs and vertebral bodies, and in severe cases can interfere with breathing.
  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent, feet shoulder width apart.
  2. Position a pillow behind you at about where the level of the bottom of your shoulder blades will sit when you lie back onto the pillow.
  3. Lie back slowly onto the pillow while keeping your knees bent up as far as they will go.
  4. Clasp your hands and with your arms straight raise them up and over your head.
  5. Keep your chin tucked in, don't allow your chin to stick out.
  6. Exhale and relax your chest and ribs.
  7. Hold this for about 30 seconds.


Postures we assume during the day normally accentuate our thoracic kyphosis. Sitting at a computer, working at a counter, reaching forward - all these postures bring our head and upper trunk forward. When in that position for lengthy periods connective tissues can shorten and hold us there. This is a good stretch to lengthen the muscles, ligaments, and other connective tissues on the front of our spine.

Tightness in the thoracic region can cause headaches, chest pain, lower back pain, mid or upper back pain. In some cases it can cause jaw pain and result in muscle imbalances that can cause shoulder pain and impingement.

You should not have discomfort doing this back stretch over a pillow. If you do, stop and consult your physical therapist before proceeding with any further stretches.

For Other Stretches
Back Stretches
Exercises for Posture
Hip Stretches