I’m sharing a mistake I made because I’ve recently realized this mistake and am now correcting it.
I used to have all my clients roll their upper back with a tennis ball. It feels really good. BUT:
Stretching and rolling, whether with a tennis ball or foam roller, have the same purpose — to release a muscle.
The upper back muscles will typically be weak especially in desk jockeys or avid cell phone users. And the problem is…they don’t need to be released! That’s the mistake.
Watch the video for more explanation and to see the two stretches that are making your posture worse.
Key points from the video:
- You can stretch your upper trapezius muscle, but should avoid stretching your mid and lower traps.
- Check your pelvis position.
- Stretching a weak muscle makes it weaker.
- Do not stretch a weak/overstretched muscle.
- Know if your muscles are weak by having them tested for function.
Exercise Alternatives to Improve Your Posture
Stretch Your Chest
When your spine is rounding from sitting at a desk all day, your chest gets closed off and the muscles get short and tight. Open up by stretching your arms wide to the sides with elbows straight. Turn your thumbs back so your palms face the ceiling. You could also roll a tennis ball on your chest muscles.
Lower Trap Activation
Visit this blog I wrote to see video of this body weight exercise.
In the video above, I mention body weight strengthening exercises for the back (trapezius muscle.) Reverse flyes target your mid-traps. Do one set per day until you feel the muscles fatigue. After 2-3 weeks, you can progress to the following exercise.
Pull Aparts work the mid-traps as well, but add intensity with the resistance from the tube.
Case in Point
I want to share how one of my clients responded to not rolling her upper back to drive home the point of this blog.
My client would start off her training session by rolling a tennis ball on her upper back/mid trap…right around the shoulder blade. There was always an angry trigger point there.
It would bother her while watching TV and she would stretch it at night.
When I finally came to my senses and realized that the rolling was not helping her, I said, “Let’s stop and see how it feels.”
And magically within about 5 days, it was starting to feel better. The massively sore spot on her shoulder blade was dissipating.
Now she does body weight reverse flyes.
Moral of the story: Strengthen the right muscles. Stretch the right muscles.