Upper Back Stretches & Strengthening Exercises
To complement your treatment programme at VitaPhysical, we have put together a series of spinal stretches and strengthening exercises.
These exercises and stretches are designed to initially stretch your spine and associated muscles that have become less flexible and then, after you feel more confident at the stretches, to begin a spinal strengthening program.
Take it easy to begin with, slowly building up time spent doing the stretches and stop if it hurts – remember to consult your practitioner if pain persists.
Have fun and remember it may take months or years before you can reverse the years of inflexibility or weakness.
Proper Stretching Technique:
- Perform balanced stretching. This means you should always stretch the muscles on both sides of your body evenly. Don’t stretch one side more than the other side.
- Avoid over-stretching. Never stretch to the point of pain or discomfort. You will feel slight tension or a pull on the muscle at the maximum of the stretch; DO NOT go beyond this point.
- Go slow!Always stretch slowly and evenly. Hold the stretch for 30 – 60 seconds and release slowly as well. · Never bounce or jerk while stretching. This can cause injury as the muscle is pushed beyond its ability. All stretches should be smooth, and slow.
- Don’t forget to breathe.Stretching should be relaxing. Deep, easy and even breathing is the key to relaxation. Never hold your breath while you stretch.
Stretch 1: Thoracic Twists (sitting)
- Sit on a chair and maintain a good upright posture.
- Put your left hand on the outer aspect of your right knee and put your right hand on your right hip or the right side of the back of the chair.
- Whilst maintaining a good posture, use your left hand to rotate your upper body around to the right as far as comfortable.
- Hold the stretch for 30 60 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Stretch 2: Trapezius Stretch
- Start standing with a good posture and your feet shoulder width apart.
- Bring your hands together in front and interlace your fingers.
- Keeping your arms straight, raise them to shoulder height.
- Push your shoulder blades forward.
- Drop your head slightly to relax your neck.
- Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
Stretch 3: Lat Stretch (Standing)
- Start standing with your feet shoulder width apart with a good posture and stomach/core muscles tight.
- Take your right arm straight up in the air, above your head and then lean slightly to the left.
- Look up at your right hand and try and imagine that you are reaching for something that is just out of your reach.
- Lean from your hips so that your trunk is the only part that moves.
- Try and ensure that the movement is as pure a side bending movement as possible i.e. minimising any forward, backward or rotational movement in your hips.
- Keep your elbows and knees relaxed throughout the stretch.
- Hold for 30 – 60 seconds.
Exercise 1: Wall Angel
- Stand against a flat wall with your feet shoulder width apart and about 1 foot away from the wall.
- Gently press your buttocks against the wall.
- Keep your head level and neck retracted.
- Place the back of your elbows, forearms, and wrists against wall.
- Bend your elbows to 90 degrees.
- Move your arms up and down slowly in a small arc of motion while keeping elbows in contact with wall.
- 10 repetitions.
Exercise 2: Contralateral Limb Raise
- Lie on your front on your exercise mat with your legs extended, toes pointing away from your shins and arms extended overhead with palms facing each other.
- Relax your head to align it with your spine.
- Exhale, contract your abdominal/core muscles to stabilise your spine and slowly raise one arm a few inches off the floor keeping your arm straight and avoiding any rotation at your shoulder.
- Maintain your head and torso position, avoiding any arching in your back or raising of your head.
- Hold this position for 3 seconds.
- Gently inhale and lower your arm back towards your starting position without any movement in your lower back or hips.
- Repeat on the opposite arm.
- 5 repetitions for each arm.
If any of these exercise or stretches aggravate your condition or you are struggling with how to actually do the exercise, please contact Jason or Kirsty at VitaPhysical, who will advise you accordingly.