Problem Solving Stretches: Back to school with a healthy back

  • Shoulder blade squeeze. STAFF PHOTOS/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ginny Hamilton and her son, Milo Goffredo, 10, demonstrate arms extended to begin row.

  • Hamilton and her son demonstrate arms/shoulders rolled forward.

  • Arms/shoulders rotated palms forward.

  • Elbows in row.

  • Stop sign arm forward. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Ginny Hamilton and her son, Milo Goffredo, 10, demonstrate stop sign indicating location of working muscle. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Milo Goffredo, 10, demonstrates upright posture wearing backpack. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Stop sign arm rotated out. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Stop sign hand supporting front shoulder (variation). STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Milo Goffredo, 10, demonstrates hunched posture wearing backpack. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

For the Gazette
Published: 8/20/2019 11:23:20 AM

Did your mother constantly nag you to sit and stand up straight? Mine sure did. Turns out, Mom was right on this one. With more and more time spent on computers in school and out, today’s kids spend an unprecedented amount of time sitting with their shoulders and upper backs rounded forward. Research shows posture affects academic performance, emotions and long term health outcomes in kids as young as third grade. 

Stand and sit up straight remains good advice. Below are simple ways to strengthen our upper back muscles to make good posture come more easily. Because what better way is there to teach our kids than by our own example? 

Try these simple back strengtheners with your kids today. Practicing these for a few minutes every day will help set a healthy habit for the new school year. 

Upper back squeeze: Pull your elbows back with a rowing motion (photos 1 and 2). You can also hug your elbows in while you rotate your palms forward and squeeze your shoulder blades together (photo 3). Each of these actions uses the muscles of your upper back (photo 4). Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat. 

School Bus Stop Sign Arms (See B2 for photos): Repeat this exercise daily to help anchor your shoulders on your back. Hug your elbow to your ribs (photo 5). Extend your forearm and hand in front of your body. Rotate your hand and forearm out to the side, keeping your elbow glued to your ribs (photo 6). Feel the squeeze underneath your shoulder blade in the back? That’s the work you want! If not, try rolling your shoulder back a bit, supporting the front of your shoulder with your other hand until you feel your back working (photo 7). Hold for 3-5 seconds, repeat 5-10 times each side. Remember, keep your elbows in!

Pain Specialist Ginny Hamilton studied Integrated Positional Therapy (IPT) with its founder, Lee Albert at the Kripalu Center in Lenox. Hamilton offers yoga and Reiki classes and private sessions in Amherst, Hadley and South Hadley. Contact her at

Sign up for our free email updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Headlines
Daily Hampshire Gazette Contests & Promotions
Daily Hampshire Gazette Evening Top Reads
Daily Hampshire Gazette Breaking News
Daily Hampshire Gazette Obits
Daily Hampshire Gazette Sports
Daily Hampshire Gazette PM Updates
Daily Hampshire Gazette Weekly Top Stories
Daily Hampshire Gazette Valley Advocate


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

115 Conz Street
Northampton, MA 01061


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy