Welcome to the first Weekend Challenge of 2016! If you’ve resolved to improve your posture or if you have pain in your upper back, then this exercise is perfect for you.
Improving your posture is a great way to start the year, so you can avoid or correct the slumped, hunchbacked appearance (kyphosis) that is so often associated with osteoporosis and upper back pain.
The Upper Spine Aligner works the trapezius muscles, strengthening key areas associated with posture: the shoulders, neck, and upper back. These spots are prone to hurt when you slump forward, engage in forward head posture (FHP), or feel stressed.
And as you practice this move, you’ll find tension and tightness are released and better posture is far easier to achieve and maintain. Plus the entire move is done from a seated position, making it extremely convenient.
Let’s get started!
It might surprise you to learn that your trapezius muscles cover a lot of territory. The traps, as they are often called, affect every area from the base of your skull to the middle of your back. If your shoulders feel tight and achy, or you have neck and head pain, chances are, your traps are tight and stressed. Here’s why.
Your traps consist of two large muscles on either side of your upper spine. They hold your head, arms, and shoulders in alignment. When stressed, we tend to bring our shoulders up toward our ears without even realizing it. The shoulders almost creep upwards before we’re aware, and the next thing you know, your shoulders and neck ache.
Another cause of trapezius pain is forward head posture, or FHP. This postural mistake is a precursor to kyphosis (aka dowager’s hump), because it pokes your head forward, setting the stage for the rest of the thoracic vertebrae to follow. This results in rounded shoulders and the beginnings of a hump.
In addition to aligning your head, neck, and thoracic vertebrae, here are some other motions and movements your traps facilitate.
- Head rotation
- Deep breathing
- Neck rotation
- Lifting heavy objects
- Lifting your arms (the traps help lift your scapulae, or shoulder blades)
- Arm rotation and twisting
- Stabilization of the shoulder blades
As you can see, the traps have a lot to do! Exercises like today’s challenge help build strength and relieve tension in the traps, thus promoting alignment of the head and spine.
The Upper Spine Aligner is done sitting down, and can be performed with or without weights. You can use two water bottles or cans of food instead of dumbbells if you wish.
- Sit in a comfortable chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor and your knees bent at right angles.
- Lean forward with your arms hanging down beside your lower legs. If you are using weights, pick them up and hold them with your palms facing behind you and the backs of your hands facing forward. If you are not using weights, your hands should still be in this position.
- Keeping your back straight, lift your arms up to about the height of your ears. Do not bend your arms. Lower your arms again.
- Repeat the arm lift approximately 10 times, or whatever fits your comfort level.
- Make sure your elbows stay straight.
- Lift the weights (or your arms) slowly and deliberately. There should be no jerking upward or “heaving” of weights. Try lighter weights if this is a problem.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
Does Your Upper Back Hurt?
Even if you have good posture, you might have pain in the upper back, including the traps. There are several reasons for this, such as carrying a heavy handbag, holding a phone between your head and your shoulder, or tightening and lifting your shoulders when you get stressed.
Another common cause of upper back pain is sleeping in the wrong position.
Mysterious aches and pains can sometimes be attributed to awkward or less-than-optimal sleeping positions, and when you begin to sleep with proper pillow support and spinal alignment, muscles release, bones and joints align, and those aches and pains often disappear.
Savers know that quality sleep is also crucial for bone health. A significant amount of bone remodeling happens during deep sleep, making this an issue of utmost importance. In addition, your sleeping position affects your skeletal alignment and posture.
The best way to eliminate or prevent those aches and pains is to target those same muscles during the day with specific exercises. If you have the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, then you know that among the 52 moves to build bone density, there are many exercises that work the upper back and neck for excellent posture and stress relief.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
What better way to stay motivated and keep your resolution to exercise if your bone-building, posture-enhancing workout includes relief from stress? With Densercise™ by your side, you don’t have to live with back pain and you can improve your posture, regardless of age.
Have a great weekend!