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I had been a avid weight lifter and runner for a number of years, but I slacked off for a few (4) years and have gotten to be in pretty rough shape. I've also noticed that I've developed something of a hunch which I suspect is from always being at the computer (first school, then work).

Aside from posture and stretches, which I've started to do (and have seens some minor results from), are there any exercises that can help straighten out a hunch?

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3 Answers 3

I see you say you're working on posture - I'd still recommend having a look at Esther Gokhale's site and book about posture. Don't let the name of the book put you off, the book is poorly named in my opinion (I see you can download a free chapter there, that'll give you a better idea).
I sit at the computer all day now without back support and I sit straight. I'm not perfect yet, but I sit better than I possibly could in a chair with support...

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There are several great posture building exercises.

One is to lay on your stomach on the floor (or on a pillow or something if this makes your back hurt) with your arms above your head. Then raise your pelvis off the floor and one leg and the opposite arm (pelvis, right leg, left arm or pelvis, left leg, right arm). This can be extended into Supermans once you're comfortable doing them, by simultaneously lifting both arms, both legs, and your pelvis at the same time.

Another is to simply do Planks. Lay on your stomach resting on your forearms. pull your body up into a strait line with only your forearms and toes touching the floor and hold that position as long as you feel comfortable, then lower yourself back down.

As Sparafusile stated, you can also do rows. One of the easiest ways to exercise the muscles exercised doing rows is to lay down on your stomach on a bench with dumbbells on either side and lift them up until your elbows are straight out to your sides and your elbows are bent at a 45 degree angle.

About.com also has a great article with more exercises to strengthen back muscles.

You should take into consideration your age as well, and any other conditions which may play a part in having a hunch in your back, such as scoliosis or damaged vertebrae or discs. If any exercise causes you extreme discomfort or pain, stop doing it immediately and talk to your doctor.

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I'm surprised by the quality of some About.com articles, they even use journals as references at times –  Ivo Flipse Mar 9 '11 at 16:18

If you have a hunch, it could be from a muscle imbalance. If your pectoral muscles are over developed it could pull your shoulders forward causing you to lower your head and arch your back slightly. To correct this, you should work your trapezoid muscles with rowing exercises.

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