If you feel you are hunched over or if you have pain in your upper back, my suggestion to perform stretches of your chest. It may sound counterintuitive, but there is a method to the madness- it’s all connected! The pectoralis major muscle medially rotates the shoulder (think rounded shoulders) and it is connected to the humerus (the upper arm bone). The rhomboids (the muscles between the medial side of the shoulder blade and the spine) retract your shoulder blades. In certain postures, the pec can pull forward, causing a stretch of the rhomboids. A pain may be felt in the upper back from those chronically pulled muscles. The doorway stretch creates the opposite action- it stretches the pec and reminds the rhomboids of their correct position.
How to do the stretch: bend your arm at a 90 degree angle, rest the forearm against a doorframe and slightly step forward until you feel a stretch. As always- only move until you feel the stretch. Do not overstretch the muscle. Perform on both sides.
PAIN IN THE NECK STRETCH
If you feel tension at the base of your neck and upper back, try this stretch. Clasp your hands behind your back, squeeze your shoulder blades together and drop them down. Gently bring your ear to your shoulder (laterally flex), just until you feel the stretch. Do not yank your head over and overstretch the muscle. Perform on both sides.
What’s happening- the levator scapula connects at the top of a shoulder blade (scapula) and to the cervical spine. Sometimes tension is felt in that area, as well as a decreased ability to turn the head. One of the actions of the levator scapula is to raise the scapula. Squeezing your scapulae together and down gives the muscle a stretch. Flexing your head to the side also gives the opposite levator scapula a good stretch. Also involved in the stretch are the upper traps, another source of tension for some people.
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