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Moves to help pain in upper back, shoulders

November 15, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Long commutes, time on the computer and other daily stresses can really irritate your upper back and shoulders. The best defense against the pain is stretching and strengthening. Here are some moves."We were never meant to do an isolated, repetitive pattern all day long," said fitness pro Scott Malin.

From the breakfast table, the desk, the car, we are more often than not in a rounded shoulder position, causing chronic irritation to our body.

"So our chest and our shoulders get really tight, and our upper back gets really weak," Malin said.

This can translate into pain in your neck, elbow, wrist and even low back, yet the main stress is coming from the upper back.

The solution for commuters, desk jockeys and parents alike is to stretch tight muscles, then strengthen the weak ones.

Sun Stretch

Look up and open up the whole chest. Palms are facing up, which is what's going to open up the chest.

Then try putting one foot in front of the other in a slight lunge, and reach up to the sky with one arm. In this position, squeeze the back glute or bun muscle. Hold that for about 10 seconds, and then switch and do the other side. Repeat throughout the day.

Basic Row

After opening up your chest with the Sun Stretch, strengthen your upper and middle trapeze with a basic row.

Keep your elbows in, and when you push back, squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Malin says to remind your body to keep the shoulders down and away from ears so that you're working the upper back instead of the shoulders themselves.

A variation of the row works the shoulders and rotator cuffs, which also get weak. Try rowing with hands up and pulling in a backwards motion at face level, so that arms mimic a right angle. Do 10 repetitions to strengthen that area.

Remember, you've got to do a basic row after you've stretched the chest.


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