January 29, 2014 10:30 am
Updated: January 28, 2014 4:52 pm

Align your spine: The upper back hunch

Ease aches with this stretch.

Ryan Day
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Align your spine is a four-week series of posts published for the next four weeks on Wednesdays breaking down the pain you are experiencing in your spine. Realigning the four major parts of your spine can lead to a life without pain. Each week new stretches will be offered. Join us as we work our way down your spine. 

You’re only as old as your spine is young.

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This lifestyle is destroying our spines. Sitting hunched endlessly over gadgets (even as I type this, ha!) We clip our earlobes with the tops of our shoulders. Collarbones collapse inward as we let go of any sense of our pecs (chest) muscles. Our shoulder blades yearn for us to reunite them. Loosen up our helplessly extended rhomboids (muscle between your blades).

In 2014, let us endeavour to correct these bad habits waiting to metastasize into long term pain.

Stop leaning over to read this article. As per last week’s article, tuck that chin in and move your skull back. Stand up. Roll your shoulders backwards until your collarbones press forward. Keep rolling the shoulder blades towards each other (you can place a pencil between them if unsure). As you roll the shoulders back, rotate the wrists so the palms face forward.

Remember that skeleton in science class? That’s the look you’re going for.

If your shoulders are moving up towards the ears, gently slide the shoulder blades back down. Your chest should feel a stretch here. This upper/mid part of the back is your thoracic spine, the part that hunches when you play with your techno-gadgets. By opening the chest here, you will greatly improve the posture in this part of your spine.

When you first start working with this stretch, you will likely feel a bit sore as your spine is not used to moving into correct postural alignment. Rather than hold this stretch, work on rotating the shoulders/wrists forward and back a few times. Finally, hold the stretch for a good 30 seconds before resuming your work.

If you can remind yourself to pinch the pencil between your blades while typing, you will do your spine a great service.

Now for a stretch you can do at home to open up that thoracic spine:

Stretches to align your spine.

Ryan Day

Open the book

1. Lay completely on your side. Lay the arms straight in front of you, palms close together (close the book).

2. Slowly lift the top arm up and send it (completely straight) behind you as your shoulders roll out onto the mat (open the book). The arm should move directly across the chest to the other side. No need for the arm to actually touch the floor. You should feel the stretch in your pecs (chest).

3. With control, bring that arm back over the chest (completely straight) and rest that palm back on the other palm (close the book).

4. Repeat the movement about 10 times. Then switch sides.

This stretch can be performed right after waking up in the morning, before bed, anytime of the day. A gentle non-invasive stretch that will help un-hunch you.

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