Time to touch base on the previous article I posted. Little tweaks make all the difference for some people. The goal of creating mobility in the upper back must stay within that area and not transfer above or below. The tweak within this article is a difference in positioning of the neck/head. For most individuals this will be important for success of this movement. The photo shows a pool noodle as an additional mobility tool. One downfall of the pool noodle is the small surface area but for some this small tool is higher on the comfort scale. Plus, you can also position the noodle up/down the T-spine for greater use. An additional benefit of the noodle is the use of a diagonal position to create extension with rotation. By placing the pool noodle in a diagonal position (both ways/directions) you are helping to increase the function of the upper back.
As the photo shows, place the hands behind the head and bring the elbows together. Slightly tuck the chin in and maintain this alignment throughout the move. This reduces cervical movement and keeps the goal in the upper back. If this isn’t maintained, a forward head or chin forward position starts to happen and the goal of creating function in the T-spine is lost.
As previously mentioned in article 1 you can also roll up a towel. Wrapping the towel in duct tape will keep the roll of the towel. Since summer is upon us, pool noodles are easy to find. Cut them with a sharp knife into 1-2 ft pieces. You can also increase the diameter of the noodle by wrapping a towel around it, duct tape it and there you have another level of progression. A bigger tool!
A reminder to always assess with a Physiotherapist if any pain is present! Creating stability and mobility is important but you need to be certain on your goal!
When it comes to athletic conditioning or training to prolong a high quality of life, I truly believe fitness programming and Personal Training is missing the mark for most. Generic programming from gyms can be a great tool for beginners who may be a bit intimitated by a gym environment. Or, for some who are not sure on hiring the services of a qualified trainer. But, do these generic programs to their job in reducing dysfunction and addressing individual needs and goals! ..... I don't think so!
What has been a struggle is educating people on why it’s so important to have a personalized program and assessment to reduce dysfunction. Many individuals just want a basic program they can follow easily, do their time in the gym and go home! Or, people are unaware of what quality trainers and quality programming look like! Be sure to have a personalized assessment if you are starting any type of conditioning program.
In my clients and athletes there are many who deal with the same dyfunctions. So I’m passing along a quick exercise that will help most. I do stress that without a personal assessment, you do not know if it’s appropriate for you but taking steps to increase mobility, for most, is a good thing!
Creating Thoracic mobility (upper back) is a wonderful way to reduce dysfunction through the shoulder girdle and lumbar spine. Lack of extension/rotation in the Thoracic spine can cause issues such as limited range of motion through the shoulder, increased low back discomfort, increased forward head posture. Ex: Many who think that stress is the main cause of any upper traps/shoulders pain could reduce that by creating a functionally sound Thoracic spine. Helping to place the scapula into a more downward position will help reduce forward head posture. But, there are still many other issues that would play a role in this.
Included is an easy way for anyone to create freedom in this area (T-Spine). The photo shows the use of a foam roller. You can also roll up a towel, utilize a pool noodle or even two tennis balls. If tennis balls are utilized, duct tape them together with adequate space between the two of them so their positioning will be on either side of the spine.
Lay face-up with the roller/towel etc under the upper back. Legs are bent. Slightly brace the abdominals (like someone is about to poke you in the belly). You should be able to breathe naturally. Slightly posterially rotate the pelvis to reduce any excessive extension through the low back. With your head supported, extend over the roller. You can hold for time, 30 seconds, or perform a rep range (3-5 reps) as if performing a “mini crunch”. You must be aware of “staying where you start” in the low back/pelvis. Movement should happen in the T-Spine and not below. So, stay engaged and stay strong.