How to Get an Arch in Your Back

In yoga tradition backbends are believed to open your heart.
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Many activities in everyday life, such as computer time, driving and sitting at a table, cause your body to round forward. However a perpetual forward movement can cause your abdominal and chest muscles to become short and tight, which can lead to back and shoulder injuries and pain. Arching your back, or performing backbends, can help elongate the muscles on the front of your torso and counteract the weakness while also providing a stretch for your back. Perform backbends at least once a day to maximize the benefits.

    Warm your muscles up by performing five to 10 minutes of easy yoga poses; arching or stretching your back when your muscles are cold can lead to injuries. Perform poses from the sun salutation, such as forward bend, downward dog, plank and upward dog, to slowly get the muscles in your back moving in various directions.

    Prepare a stable base so that you avoid over- or under-arching your back. Stand tall with your feet pointing forward. Stack your shoulders over your hips. Pull your stomach in toward your lower back and point your tailbone down. Roll your thigh muscles inward and isometrically hug them into the mid-line of your body. Press your feet into the floor.

    Place your hands where your lower back meets the buttocks, with the fingers pointing down. Press the hips forward and push the shoulder blades down your back as you begin to lift your chest toward the ceiling.

    Continue to lift your chest until there is an arch in your back. The arch comes from the chest lift rather than from bending your back, the latter of which can cause a strain or injury. Keep the neck in line with the spine by pressing your chin toward your chest as your upper torso is lifting up and back. Allow the top of your head to slowly drop back if it feels safe and does not cause any discomfort in your neck.

    Hold the backbend for thee to five breaths. Release the arch by slowly lifting your head, neck and shoulders up to vertical position. Stand still for another three to five breaths to prevent any dizziness from occurring.


    • Start with a small arch and allow it to get gradually more defined as you increase the strength in your back.

      Vary the backbend by performing it on your knees rather than standing, which is considered camel pose in yoga.

      Consult with a certified yoga teacher or personal trainer if you have trouble finding the correct form or feel any discomfort while performing the backbend.


    • Rise up and out of the backbend slowly; standing vertical too quickly can cause dizziness.

      Consult with a physician before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have not worked out for a while or if you have any chronic health issues.

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