Category Archives for "upper back"

Mobilizing the Thoracic Spine

A tight upper back may be attributed to stiffness in the shoulder, neck, or back muscles surrounding the thoracic spine. Rounded or slump shoulders, having sway in the lower back, or a forward head position due to weak back extensor muscles, short and tight chest muscles, or weak abdominal muscles may result in an individual having poor posture. Poor posture can place tension in the upper back and may result in irritation or pain. Sports, weightlifting, irregular sleeping positions, or car accidents may also cause tightness in the upper neck and back region. Mobilizing and strengthening the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine may relieve an individual of stiffness or pain, while improving an individual’s range of motion and functioning. Remember to have a balanced, upright posture by standing tall, bringing the shoulders down and back, tuck your chin, and keep a neutral spine to work on better posture.

EXERCISES FOR A TIGHT THORACIC SPINE

1) Thoracic Rotations: 

Lie sideways on a mat or on the floor with both arms extended to one side and hands together. Bend the knee of the top leg to form a 90 degree angle. Place a long foam roller underneath the bent knee if you are unable to touch the ground with this top knee. Keeping your lower body in this position, twist your upper back by bringing the top arm over your body to the other side to touch the floor. Repeat 10-12 times, then lie on the other side and complete the same movement.

2) Cat-Cow: 

Begin in a table-top position with your knees hip-width apart and wrists shoulder-width apart on a mat or on the floor. Keep a neutral spine and head position. Move into the “cow” pose by inhaling as you drop your belly down towards the mat as you lift your chin and chest up to gaze toward the ceiling. Then move into the “cat” pose by exhaling as you draw your belly into your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times.

3) Seated Lateral Flexion: 

Begin seated in a chair with both feet planted on the floor or seated on the floor. Raise one arm up towards the ceiling. With your arm raised above your head, slowly bend to the opposite side. Return to the start position and lower your arm. Then raise the other arm and slowly bend to the opposite side. Repeat 5-10 times on each side.

4) Thoracic Extension with a Foam Roller: 

Place a long foam roller perpendicular to your spine on a mat or on the floor underneath your shoulder blades. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head to support the weight of your head. Slowly push with your feet to roll the foam roller up and down the thoracic region. Maintain a neutral spine and engage your abs.

5) 4-Point Walk-Out: 

This exercise helps to re-train muscle activation in the shoulder blades and mobilizes the muscles surrounding the thoracic spine for a better functional recovery. Place your hands and knees in a four point or table-top position with a neutral spine. Engage the inner core and start by walking one hand out to one side, then back to the centre, and then to the other side, then back to the centre again. Put full equal weight each time you place your hand down. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise. Repeat for 30 seconds for 3 sets.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

How to Warm Up For a Bigger Bench Press

The bench press is one of the key complex exercises to build upper body strength and mass. It involves the pectoralis major, triceps brachii, anterior deltoids, traps, back, and glute muscles. Check out the following blog post on how to properly perform the bench press: https://insyncphysio.com/strength-training-for-dragon-boat-paddlers/


Warm up prior to any exercise is key as it raises the heart rate and circulation of blood to the muscles to prepare for an increase in activity. Complete the following steps before performing light reps on the bench press to warm up effectively for a bigger bench press:

1) Self-Myofascial Release: 

Foam rolling decreases tissue density and muscle viscosity, while increasing blood flow into the muscles. Apply moderate pressure to the chest, lats, and tricep muscles. Do not roll over joints. Pause on any tender spots for several seconds. 

2) Dynamic Warmup:

a. Side Lying Windmills: Lie down with your back on the floor with one leg extended and the other leg crossed over your body with the knee bent at a 90 degree angle. Extend both arms in the same direction as the knee that is pointed to the side. With the top arm, slowly raise it in a circular motion over your chest to reach the opposite side. Then bring the arm back to meet the other arm. Do not move either legs through out the motion. Repeat 10 times on each side.


b. 4-Point Clock Reaches: Loop a closed elastic band with mild resistance around your arms above your wrists. Kneeling on the ground, keep your spine in neutral posture with your inner core muscles engaged. Imagine there is clock face numbered 9 to 3 O’clock on the ground in front of you. Begin by reaching the right hand to 12 O’clock and then back to the start position. Continue to 1 O’clock, 2 O’clock, 3 O’clock and then backwards up to 12 O’clock again. Repeat 5 times on each side.


c. External Rotation: Position your elbow by your side, shoulders relaxed and your posture in spine neutral. Holding on to a resistance band use your other hand to help it out to the end range of external rotation. The opposite hand is doing all the work pushing the band outward that is being held by your other hand. Then let the hand holding the band slowly return to the start position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

d. Push-ups: Start in a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart, then lower your body downwards until your chest nearly touches the floor. Keep your elbows tucked in and engage the core to keep a neutral spine. Bring your body back up by pushing upwards with your arms. Repeat 5-10 times.

3) Central Nervous System (CNS) Activation

a. Chest Throws: Stand perpendicular to a wall with feet shoulder-width apart. Holding a medicine ball level to your chest, use the momentum provided by your upper body, throw the ball, and catch it when it bounces or is tossed back to you. Repeat 10 times. 


b. Ball slams: Stand shoulder-width apart, raise a medicine ball above your head. Using the momentum from your whole body, throw the ball downwards towards the floor. Repeat 10 times. 

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

6 Pain-Fighting Moves You Can Do With A Tennis Ball

We absolutely love using foam roller exercises to work out those nagging aches and pains, but sometimes they can’t get into a tight area quite as well as a pair of human hands. The next best option after a massage? This series of mini self-massage techniques using nothing more than a few tennis balls. These moves get into the deepest layers of your muscle and connective tissue to pry apart adhesions so your muscles can fully contract and stretch. They’ll also relieve soreness, pain, and increase circulation. So grab a pair of tennis balls (you know there’s one buried somewhere in the garage) and get started.

If You’ve Got… Achy Feet

Try… Sole Searching

Why it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in your sole’s muscles, joints, and connective tissues.

How to do it:

  1. While standing next to a wall or chair for stability, place a ball underneath the arch of your foot. Keep your heel on the floor and let your body weight sink in. Take deep breaths for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  2. Slowly roll your foot from side to side so the ball crosses your arch. Repeat for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Roll the ball along the length of your foot from heal to toe for 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Repeat on the other foot.

If You’ve Got… Stiff Knees

Try… Kneedy Ball

Why it helps: The ball acts as a spacer to gently traction the lower leg bones, kneecap, and thigh away from one another. This provides an internal stretch within the often-stiff joint capsule of the knee.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on the floor or in a chair and place the ball behind your bent knee, as close to the side of the knee as possible.
  2. Attempt to contract your muscles against the ball, temporarily “squashing” the ball for a count of 10, then relax your muscles for a count of 10. Do this 8 to 10 times.
  3. Repeat on the other knee.

If You’ve Got… Tight Thighs

Try… IT Band Meltdown

Why it helps: The balls tease motion into the frequently tight IT Band and outer quadriceps muscle (vastus lateralis). This move helps to soothe tight knees and hips at once.

How to do it:

  1. While sitting on the ground or in a firm chair, place 2 balls on the outside of your thigh. Keep the balls nestled into the side of your thigh and slowly bend and straighten your knee 20 times.
  2. Move your thigh from side to side so that the balls cross the side of your thigh. Repeat for 2 minutes.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… Sore Hips

Try… Hip Help

Why It Helps: This move targets multiple large and small muscles that attach on the side of the hip (the gluteus maximus, the medius, and the pitiformis). These muscles can be tight either from sitting too much, overuse in exercise, or wearing high-heeled shoes.

How to do it:

  1. Lie on the ground and place one ball on the side of your hip, then lean into the ball. Make slow circles with the hip and leg as it rests on the ball. Circle 12 times in each direction.
  2. Repeat on the other side.

If You’ve Got… A Cramped Back

Try… Low Back Loosener

Why It Helps: This move massages and relieves tension in the multiple back and core muscles that intersect in the lower back.

How to do it:

  1. Place 2 balls vertically between your bottom and your ribs and lie down on top of them. Breathe deeply while shifting your pelvis from side to side so the balls cross your entire lower back. If you’d like, you can place the balls in a tote, stocking, or sock.
  2. Move the ball more slowly in the areas where you feel stiffer, and lighten your pressure when you’re near the spine so that you’re not pinching the balls into your bones as you cross from right to left or left to right.
  3. Breathe deeply as you roll for up to 5 minutes.

If You’ve Got… Bad Posture

Try… Upper Back UnWind

Why It Helps: This move is a postural corrective, an upper back tension reliever, and also helps to revive your breath.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down and place two balls side by side on either side of your upper back. (You can place them in a tote, stocking, or sock, if you’d like.) Interlace your hands behind your head and lift your head off the floor, bringing your chin toward your chest. Lift your bottom off the floor and take 3 deep breaths into your ribs.
  2. Keeping your breaths big and steady, roll the balls like a rolling pin up and down your upper back for 3 to 4 minutes.
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.