Let me ask you two questions:
1) Does your back/spine resemble a giant “C”, with your shoulders and butt pointing behind you like so many mannequins nowadays?
2) Are your shoulders rounded forward?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, I’ll bet your upper back and shoulders are tense and painful. But hurt no longer because today is your lucky day; I’ve got a really great stretches for each of those problems. All you need is an exercise ball and a couple pillows.
1) Your back should not look like a giant “C”, with only one curve from head to tail. Rather, the curves should alternate, and the upper back/spine should round forward slightly (but not nearly so much that you have a dowagers hump). When you lose that curve in the upper back, the muscles that run vertically along either side of your spine are usually short and tight. So here’s how to stretch them out.
Kneel in front of your exercise ball and gently lay your upper chest across it, with your arms either out to your side or above your head, and relax. Wait 1-5 minutes and feel the muscles begin to soften and lengthen. Slowly roll forward a couple inches and repeat the process of relaxing, softening, and lengthening. Continue until you have stretched the vertical muscles as far down as your lower ribs.
2) When your shoulders are rounded forward, the muscles attached to the sides of your shoulder blades are usually tight. Here’s a great way to give them a stretch.
Place the exercise ball against a couch or chair, bring your right arm over your head, and gently lay/lean with your right side against the surface of the ball – sit on a pillow or two (or in my case three) if you need to raise yourself up enough to allow your armpit to be on top of the ball. Relax onto the ball, wait 1-5 minutes, and feel the muscles begin to soften and lengthen. Repeat on the left side.
There! Doesn’t that feel better??
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