Hope you had a chance to read Troy’s first blog on this website. It reminded us all of the great power of the mind over the body and how important that is to pursuing regular exercise and keeping in shape. Along those lines, he has shown us two great exercises to strengthen the posture of the upper back and shoulders in order to avoid the “slumped back” look that seems common in middle age.
Because we all spend copious amounts of time on the computer, writing, reading and talking on the phone, often we put significant stress on the neck, upper back and shoulders. Without realizing this, the stress of work or projects is transferred to our body by the hunched muscles, shrugging up and tensing subconciously. In addition to keep our bones strong, exercise helps the muscles become stronger to avoid that hunched back look of osteoporosis.
Troy recommends two exercises that help strengthen the mid-back muscles in order to straighten the shoulders and back and prevent chronic muscle contraction and pain:
- In the first photo, Troy is demonstrating shoulder external rotation. Start by grasping a stretchy band in both hands parallel to the ground. Pull outwards, as in the second photo, so that your hands are 180 degrees apart while holding the band, which will give you resistance. Shoulders stay down (Specifically, try not to shrug up). Hold for 3 seconds, then relax so the band is loose. Repeat this 15-20 times. Try to do two sets daily.
- The other exercise is called scapular retraction and involves lying belly down on a mat with your arms holding the elbows at a 90 degree angle. Focus on keeping your arms parallel to ground at highest and to visualize squeezing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Do NOT shrug up. Please keep your feet split apart so as not to arch through your low back to achieve the squeeze. Do 15-20 repetitions at a time. Try to do 2 sets 4-7 times a week.
It is possible to do the first exercise easily while in the office setting during a break. The other is possible as well, but only if you have room and privacy to lie on the floor!
Anything we can do during a busy work day to stimulate muscle strength enhances our long term health. Stay positive and watch for opportunities!