As time goes on, it’s a little too easy to fall into the habit of not working all of our body’s muscles to that extent that they need to be. Mostly our upper back muscles, which are connected to our arms and spines. If all we do is sit at a computer and type away or make a home-cooked meal at night, we’re not getting that much exercise. Thus, our back muscles can suffer greatly.
When the upper body strength fades away, we’re left with two things; no strength and upper back pain. And we all know for certain that back pain is no joke! However, biomechanist and movement teacher, Katy Bowman, insists on a simple 10-second stretch called the thoracic stretch. All you’ll need is your body and a chair.
Follow the steps below to a successful thoracic stretch, as instructed by Prevention magazine:
- Place your hands on a desk, a countertop, or the back of a sturdy chair. Walk backward, lowering your chest to the ground.
- Once your hips are behind your ankles, straighten your legs. Relax the muscles in the fronts of the thighs and gently lift your tailbone. Hold your arms in place and keep pressing your armpits toward the floor. The movement is primarily in the shoulders—if you feel it in your lower back, lift the bottom of your rib cage as you press your shoulders down.
- Flip your hands over so your thumbs point away from each other, then bring your arms toward each other. This engages more of your shoulder muscles. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Take a short break, then repeat two or three times.
Bowman directs and teaches at the Nutritious Movement Center Northwest in Sequim, Washington and has her own book called Don’t Just Sit There. The book focuses on the problem of sitting and how it has become an unhealthy lifestyle decision due to the number of issues it can cause (lack of strength, lack of muscle tone, muscle pain, etc).
The book also provides corrective exercise treatment and lifestyle solutions to help the individual transition from a lifestyle of sitting to standing, primarily in the traditional office set-up.
It essentially is a study on data about how people work best and it’s really interesting to think about whether people benefit from sitting or standing while doing virtually anything!
If you have upper back pain of any kind, be sure to SHARE this article with a friend and spread the news about this awesome pain-relieving stretch.