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Well•Being Wednesday: 6 Stretches For Mid-Work Day Upper Back Pain

Updated: May 12, 2021

Friends, hello! How are you doing this beautiful near-fall week? I can feel it in the air: cooler winds, a few leaves turning and I'm happy to be able to open my windows again.

We are now at month 6 of Covid, most of us are still working from home and starting to really feel the physical manifestations of all the stress 2020 has brought us. So for today's Well•Being Wednesday I have 6 poses to address upper back + neck pain, which is often caused from hunching over our computers all. day. long. 👩‍💻

A lot of that pain and strain you are feeling in your upper back, between your shoulder blades and at the base of your skull can be addressed by opening up the front of your body - your pectoral muscles. So we will use a combination of stretches for chest and upper back to help you reset mid-workday 😊 Hold each of these for several deep breaths and then switch sides if needed.

#1: Cow-Face Shoulder stretch

Have one arm overhead, pat yourself on the back (you deserve it, you're doing a great job) and clasp the opposite hand from underneath. **Be sure to keep the top inner arm next to your temple so you aren't hyper-extending the rotator cuff muscles (try to avoid letting that arm stretch behind your head). This will ensure a healthy external rotation of the humerus**

Modifications: put a strap between your hands, or hold the top elbow with the opposite hand

Benefits: stretches the teres major + minor muscles, levator scapula, pectoral muscles, deltoid

#2 Arm Bind

Wrap your right arm behind your back towards left hip and clasp hands together. Begin to draw left elbow towards the right to open left shoulder and pectoral muscles. Turn your head to the right for additional stretch. Switch sides.

Modifications: Wrap one arm only will still stretch and lengthen that shoulder + pectoral muscles

Benefits: opens left shoulder and pectoral muscles

#3: Straddle Forward Fold + Shoulder Stretch

From standing, widen legs about 3-4 feet apart and fold forward. Bend your knees if you feel any

pain in your back. Clasp fingers together at low back, then let arms fall overhead. Palms can press together to get a deeper stretch.

Modifications: Grip opposite forearms, or just do from standing (no fold)

Benefits: Lengthens back leg muscles + hips, opens pectoral, deltoid and trapezius muscles

#4: Eagle Arms

Cross arms above the elbows, then cross wrists so palms can connect. Release shoulder heads away from ears, allow shoulder blades to protract (move away from the spine), drop your chin towards your chest. Elbows can either lift up or drop (I prefer to drop them down towards my lap). Switch so other arm is on top.

Modifications: cross one arm, use the other as a hook, or give yourself a hug with hands holding opposite shoulders and let shoulder blades protract. Drop chin towards chest.

Benefits: stretches neck and upper back muscles: trapezius, rhomboids, levator scapulae, and shoulder muscles.

#5: Child's pose bow-tie

From child's pose, criss-cross arms to protract shoulder blades like a little bow tie at your neck. Your chin can rest on your front upper arm. Hold for several breaths, then switch sides.

Modifications: Have the arm furthest away from your body bent so it can be a head rest if this is too intense. Can also be done from a prone position with legs straight out if child's pose is inaccessible.

Benefits: stretches upper back muscles: trapezius, rhomboids, levator scapulae, and shoulder muscles.

#6: Prone Shoulder + Chest Stretch

Lying on your stomach, have one arm airplane wing straight out from shoulder, with 90 degrees

in arm pit. Bend opposite arm and leg then roll in the direction of extended arm, having sole of foot resting on the floor behind extended leg. Let your the side of your head rest on the floor or pillow. Front arm can remain bent in front of your chest for more support, or bind it behind your back.

Modifications: Can be done standing at a wall, with palm and shoulder touching the wall, then turn slightly away from the wall.

Benefits: Opens pectoral and shoulder muscles

Thanks for joining me for this Well•Being Wednesday and I hope this provides a little relief for

your workday 😊 Check in next week for a delicious recipe!


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