It happens to the best of us. You reach for a box of cereal, and your back seizes up. Or you’re backing up your car and strain your neck while turning to look over your shoulder. Common injuries seem to come out of nowhere. That’s because muscular imbalances are future injuries just waiting for the perfect moment to pounce. Prevent injury by correcting spinal alignment and building strength in your upper back and core.
Use Mid-day Tweaks to Strengthen a Weak Upper Back.
Tech neck is the term for the misalignment and imminent pain looking down at devices causes in the neck and upper back. Resulting weak trapezius muscles or failing discs in your cervical (upper) spine can kill your form in the gym and make daily tasks painful. Pepper these two simple anytime, anywhere exercises into your day. Both exercises will open your chest for better breathing and improve your form when you hit the gym.
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- Goal post arms- Sit or stand with your shoulders directly over your hips. Bring your arms out to your sides, shoulder height. Bend your elbows like a football goal post. Look left, right, down and up a few times to loosen your neck. Then look forward and focus on using internal resistance to pull the tips of your shoulder blades downward. 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
- Chin Retraction/Posture Check- Stand with your arms resting by your sides, feet shoulder width apart. Soften your knees. Place the fingertips of one hand on your lips. Start retracting your head back, pulling chin back toward the back of your neck like you’re trying to make a double-chin. Once you’ve retracted fully, gently release the neck contraction to return to neutral. Notice that your fingers are several inches away from your lips once you restore your posture.
Toss These Two Exercises into Your Workout to Tackle a Weak Core.
A weak core (the muscles below your chest and above your knees) can result in mid and lower back problems and poor muscle and joint function up and down your chain. Failing muscles in your core leave joints, like your knees, more prone to injury. There are many exercise fixes that can help you get past the problems a weak core can cause. Try these two to get you started:
- Bridge- Lie on your back with feet shoulder width apart, knees bent to prep for the bridge. Keep your feet under your knees and lift your glutes off the ground. Tighten your abdominal wall, your rear-end, hamstring, and thighs. Release slowly. As you get stronger, try it one-legged or hold a weight on your hips for added resistance. Try 3 sets of 10.
- Captain’s Chair Leg Raises- Put your back against the seatless “captain’s chair” while resting your forearms on the arm pads. Use your abs and leg muscles to slowly tuck your knees toward your chest. For more of a challenge, try it with straight legs. Start with 10 reps.