Working for a local San Diego Chiropractor at Greater Life Chiropractic I have become increasingly more aware of the posture habits of people and how it may effect their future health. Upper back pain commonly stems from a tendency to slump the spine and round the shoulders, also causing the shoulder blades to slide away from the spine and overstretching and weakening the muscles around them. Over time these muscles harden into tough bands to protect themselves from this strain.
Shoulder stretching can feel good to help reduce upper back pain, however it can cause the problem to get worse because you are only focusing on the pain areas and not address the deeper causes. Here are proper ways to open up the chest and do shoulders stretch. In this stretch the hands are clasped behind the body, and the arms are drawn away from the back to stretch the front of the shoulders. However be careful, the muscles you are trying to stretch can cause the arms to become misaligned and cause further strain. Make sure your elbows are bent and interlace your fingers, keeping the elbows bent, lift and square your shoulders back moving your elbows towards each other so that your upper arms are parallel. Even if you are flexible make sure to keep the elbows bent and do not straighten out the arms. When keeping the elbows bent and bringing the arms parallel will help to rotate the upper arms outward and opening the space between your upper chests. If you want to increase the stretch, keep you chest elevated as you draw your hands away from your back, just continue to be aware of your shoulders and make sure they are not rotating in.
Purvottanasana (upward-facing plank) is a great pose to help stretch the inner arm muscles as well as the chest. Start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet a comfortable distance in front of you, place your hands on the floor 12-16 inches behind you, wider than your hops and fingers pointing forward. Bend your elbows slightly and as you exhale soften your chest downward, bowing your head. As you take an inhale, draw your shoulders back, keeping your elbows bent. This should lift and open your upper chest, feeling the stretch below your collarbones (keep your hips on the floor). With your next inhalation lift your chest and straighten your arms, the more your straighten your arms while pressing downward through the index finders the more you will feel the stretch along the inner edges of your biceps and forearms. Keep progressing at your comfort, raising the hips and keeping your head natural. Do not lift your hops if your arms turn in. If you feel a sharp pulling deep inside your shoulder or if your chest collapses, back off and lower your hips. In the full pose, the legs are extended straight out if front of you, extension through your toes, lifting hips and opening your chest.
Remember if you feel any sharp shooting pains back off and take it down another level. These poses can be done in layers and it’s important for you to listen to your body and honor it. If you have any questions visit your local yoga studio and see advise from a professional yoga instructor.