Here are two versions of back arches that will help stretch your chest and shoulders while strengthening the muscles in your upper back. These are both excellent moves to help prevent you from developing rounded shoulders or a hunched back.
Start by lying face down on a padded surface or mat with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands next to your ribcage with your palms on the floor. Keeping your legs and feet on the floor, inhale and raise your shoulders, chest and head away from the floor. Feel your chest and waist elongating away from your hips. Press your hands down as you tuck your elbows in close to your sides. Hold this position for two to three breaths. Lower yourself back to the floor and rest for 30 seconds. Repeat this variation again or progress to the more advanced move.
Begin with the same face-down position. Then, keeping only the tops of your feet on the floor, inhale and arch your upper spine, raising your chest, hips and knees off the floor. Straighten your arms only to the point where you feel your chest and waist elongating away from your hips. Press your weight down evenly on your hands as you move your shoulders back and down away from your ears. Hold this pose for two to three full breaths. Lower yourself back to the floor and rest for 30 seconds.
Voight is the creator of a line of fitness DVDs, including "Sleek Essentials."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times