Hunchback posture and more generally stiffness in the middle and upper back are a very common problem among busy professionals and other people with sedentary jobs.
A few years ago I uploaded a video to YouTube about 5 Exercises to Help Improve Hunchback Posture that has since attracted over 500k views.
When I watch this video now, I would replace the upper back foam rolling suggestion with a new tool that I’ve come across – the RAD Roller. The RAD Roller is incredibly effective at helping relieve tension in overstretched muscles in your upper and middle back.
Here’s some more information about what hunchback posture is, how a RAD Roller can be a very useful tool, and some tips on how to use it. If you have a medical condition such as scoliosis, or kyphosis, you should check in with your doctor before doing this exercise.
When you think of a muscle that is tight, you may imagine a muscle that is shortened. For example, if your shoulders round forward, your chest muscles become short and tight.
When your muscles overstretch, they can also feel “tight” because they have very high tension. It’s like when you pull a rubber band apart; the rubber has higher tension the further you pull it apart.
Here’s a quick visual of the muscles that are closest to your spinal column, collectively referred to as your erector spinae muscles. As you can see, there are a lot of muscles in your back, which can get overstretched:
Your upper and middle back muscles are not able to contract properly when they have such high tension. Also, your ability to rotate and bend forward and backward freely is compromised. The inability to contact your muscles and lack of mobility can lead to a host of issues from low back problems, to shoulder pain.
Ideally, your muscles should have a normal resting length, so they are neither too short, nor overstretched.
Because there is a space between where the balls are connected, this allows you to roll over it in the middle of your back. The balls can straddle your spine so that your spine is untouched, but the muscles around it are massaged.
While there are other tools like the RAD Roller available and even a budget option where you tape two lacrosse balls together, I prefer the blue RAD Roller because it’s just the right firmness to feel like a massage.
The following examples will help you progress from the first time you use the RAD Roller to more advanced variations.
Place the roller in the middle of your back, knees up, hands down at your sides, head comfortably on the ground. Roll up an inch, or two, and breath deeply through your belly for 5 to 10 seconds, then slowly roll up your back while pausing every inch, or two until you reach the top of your shoulder blades.
To make the exercise more intense, you can extend your arms over your head when you are pausing for 5 to 10 seconds. You can also drop your legs onto the floor. Finally, you can also do snow angles with just your arms, not your legs to help mobilize the muscle tissue in your upper and middle back as you are massaging it.
To make this exercise even tougher, you can cross your arms like you are hugging yourself, lift up your hips, and slowly roll back and forth up your upper back. This can be very painful if you are not ready for it, so be careful. I only do this after going through the other progressions.
1) Breathe deeply through your belly as you are doing this, this is hugely important. Breathing deeply helps loosen the tension in the muscles.
2) Keep your rib cage down. We don’t want to flare the rib cage and excessively arch the low back
3) Keep your head in line with your spine, so try to avoid bending your neck backwards
4) This may be very intense the first time you try because your back muscles may have a lot of tension. The first time he tried it, my brother joked it should be called the torture roller and not the Rad roller.
5) Tuck your shirt in, or the roller will start bunching up your clothing
While the RAD Roller can help relieve tension in your muscles, lasting changes will not be possible without changing your daily habits.
In other words, the RAD Roller is treating the symptom, but you must address the cause of your hunchback posture, which can be anything from work station ergonomics, using a pillow that’s too soft and small, hunching over your smart phone, hunching over when you drive in your car, or working on your laptop on the couch to list some possible causes.
Until you address these causes, you will continue to feel stiffness in your back. It’s unavoidable unfortunately and I know this from experience.
I recommend using the RAD Roller at least once per day initially. Any less than that and you may not notice improvements.
If you feel chronic pain in your back even when you are not using the RAD Roller, or you have severe hunchback posture (medically referred to as kyphosis), be sure to check in with your doctor.
If you have hunchback posture, or even forward head posture, I hope you give the RAD Roller a try. I think it can make a substantial difference in as little as a week, and you should notice improvements almost immediately after using it.
If you enjoyed this article, consider sharing it with friends and family who may also benefit from relieving tension in their back.