A Must Try Upper Back Stretch

December 3, 2018

It’s called the wall bridge. 

 

(Well, to be totally honest, I don’t actually know what it’s called but you’re essentially making a bridge against the wall, so lets just call it a wall bridge.)

 

It’s a fantastic movement to break up extended periods of sitting or desk work since it targets your thoracic spine (think, area between your shoulder blades) and shoulders. It does this all while helping to correct the head-forward-hunched-back posture that typically comes with years and years of prolonged sitting. 

 

 

Here's what you need to do:

 

  1. Stand facing a wall and place your palms on the wall in front of you. 

  2. Walk your feet backwards while moving your hands down the wall until your chest is as close to parallel to the ground as you can get it and your hips are at a 90 degree angle.  

  3. Avoid simply extending your low back and instead focus on extending your thoracic spine. This commonly happens when someone’s upper back mobility is limited (keeping your abdominal muscles active will help.)

  4. As you hang here in your bridge position, try to extend your thoracic spine by pushing your chest towards the ground. The gold standard position is to create a nice straight line from your hands to your tailbone. 

  5. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds while breathing (don’t forget to breathe!) 

  6. Repeat multiple times a day. I find it helpful to choose a wall in my house and every time I walk by it, I pause for 30 seconds and do this stretch.

 

If you’re a beginner or you thoracic spine mobility is particularly limited, you may need to start with either:

 

  • Your hands higher up on the wall or your feet closer towards the wall (or both). This puts your body in a position where it isn’t leaning over as much. 

  • Or, place your hands on the back of a chair or countertop (moving your palms into a downward position requires less shoulder mobility.)

 

 

This movement should not be painful, but it may be uncomfortable. It's moving your body in the opposite position it's most comfortable, which is a flexed thoracic spine and rounded shoulders (hunched over position.) A little discomfort is ok, and a good reminder of the importance of consistently working through corrective exercises like this one.

 

I hope you found this wall bridge movement helpful. And if you haven’t already, go try it right now!

 

(I mean it. I’m still waiting…)

 

Make it a great week.

 

—Dr. Jenna

 

 

 

 

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