The upper back is interconnected to the tissues above and below, and congestion here can have a negative affect on surrounding areas. That's why some targeted remodeling of the interconnected tissues can get into all the gnarly nooks and crannies to help refresh, rehydrate and revive every layer of muscle and connective tissue.
While laying on your back, place a tennis ball under each shoulder where backpack straps would rest. Bridge your pelvis off the floor and use your feet to roll your body back and forth over the balls for a minute or two.
How it helps: The ball loosens up stiffness in the upper back, restoring mobility to the shoulders and neck while also alleviating tension.
2. Rotator Cuff Refresh
While lying on your back, place a ball under your right shoulder blade and lean your body weight into the ball. Squirm your body from side to side, keeping the ball within the triangle-shaped border of the shoulder blade for 1-2 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.
How it helps: This move helps to revive overworked or sluggish shoulder muscles — specifically the rotator cuff — to improve shoulder movement and function.
3. Caress Wave
Lie down and place two balls side-by-side on either side of your upper back (you can place them in a sock to keep them together, if you like). Interlace your hands behind your head and lift your head off the floor bringing your chin towards your chest. Lift your butt off the floor and take three deep breaths into your ribs. Keep your breath big and steady, and roll the balls like a rolling pin up and down your upper back for 3-4 minutes.
Place a ball underneath your left collarbone and lean into a wall. Spend at least one minute simply breathing into the pressure of the ball. Slowly shift your body from side to side, allowing the ball to roll back and forth underneath the left collarbone for 1-2 minutes. Then, try moving your arm and neck while you shift to add extra shoulder mobility into the mix for one minute. Switch sides and repeat.
How it helps: This move unglues the overworked chest muscles that tighten due to holding onto cell phones, typing on computers, cooking or carrying kids. It restores breathing and also relaxes your nervous system.
5. Neck Gnar
Place a ball just below your left shoulder, just behind the collarbone into the soft tissue triangle. Lean into a wall or door jamb to pin the ball in place. Move the left arm slowly through as many different positions as possible. Add a neck stretch by turning your head away from the ball and up towards the ceiling for 1-2 minutes. Switch sides and repeat.
How it helps: The ball untangles shoulder and neck tension created by carrying backpacks, purses, satchels and talking on the phone.
Jill Miller is the co-founder of Tune Up Fitness Worldwide and creator of the corrective exercise format Yoga Tune Up®. With more than 28 years of study in fitness, yoga therapy and anatomy, she is a pioneer and expert in forging relevant links between the worlds of fitness, yoga, massage, and pain-management.
This is a great way to prepare for your day at the office. Start stretching from your neck: tilt your head down toward your shoulders interchangeably. Then loosen up your shoulders by rolling them both forward and backward in circular motion. Repeat this exercise ten times.
Now it's time for your wrists — perfect for working at the computer. Stretch one arm out in front of you with palm facing down. With the other hand, pull the raised fingers down toward the floor so your wrist is bent. Hold for three seconds and repeat on the other side.
Finally, you can stretch your legs, particularly calves and ankles. Standing with straight legs, flex one ankle at a time by pointing toes up and then down. Then draw circles with your toes, both clockwise and counter-clockwise.
2. Magic Carpet Ride
Sit in your chair with legs crossed and feet on the seat. Put your hands on armrests and slowly raise yourself above your seat. Hold this position for 10-20 seconds (you should feel it in your belly and arms). Rest for 30 seconds and repeat five times.
3. Leg Power
Sit in your chair and extend one leg forward. Hold it up for five seconds. Then raise it again, but this time as high as you can. Hold it for five seconds. Repeat 15 times for each leg. This exercise is perfect for developing lower-body strength.
4. Chair Squats
Put your seat at its lowest level and stand in front of it with your feet hip width. Put your hands on your hips and lower your butt until it's just above the seat. Then try to sit down as slowly as possible. If you want to make it even harder, reach your hands overhead. Feeling like a pro? Try this exercise standing on one leg. Repeat 20 times.
5. Office Push-ups
Stand about three feet away from your desk, place your feet together and put your hands on the edge of the desk. The space between them should correspond to your shoulders. Lower your chest to the edge of the desk and push back up. Repeat this upper-body strength exercise 20 times.
6. Chair Swap
Not an exercise, but replacing your chair with an exercise ball will force you to constantly use your abs to hold yourself in the correct position, improving your balance and taking stress off your lower back. Sit on the ball, pull your shoulders up and place your feet wide. It's not easy, so you might want to practice at home.
Apart from these exercises, it's important to sit at your desk the right way. Your chair should be at the proper height to reduces strain on your neck and back, without the need to crane forward and slump your shoulders. Be aware of your posture, correct it and exercise when you can. You'll see positive results within a week!
The typical day of someone who works in an office is spent sitting. We sit eight hours at a desk. We sit commuting to work. In the evenings, we slouch on our couches to watch TV. This is simply a Read
In our increasingly busy world, where the many things pulling our attention are seemingly never-ending, we have limited time to do a practice to keep ourselves healthy and balanced both spiritually and physically. So rather than ask you to add one more thing to your already busy lives, I propose following the adage of working "smarter not harder."
I start every personal yoga practice with a squat and a hang.
These are power poses — essential poses to do even if you're not going to do anything else; they are the poses that give you the most bang for your buck.
One of the predictors of longevity is how easy it is to sit down on the ground and stand up again without assistance. The squat and hang poses are great ways to practice these important physical movements.
Many yoga poses are simply variations on the squat or the hang. A squat is a compression and the hang is an extension. They are yin and yang movements that complement each other.
Squat Pose (Malasana) helps us keep a deep and fluid flexibility in the hip joints. This flexibility is something we all have at birth, but diminishes as we age due to lack of use. The hip joints have been called the holders of emotions and they are also where sexual energy resides. A hip joint that is flexible is able to move easily and release emotions, instead of keeping them locked into non-beneficial energetic patterns within the body.
Also, having supple hip joints is crucial to the proper alignment of the body when we are walking and standing. In our culture we spend far too much time sitting in chairs or in our cars and leaning forward. These postures shorten and tighten muscles in our legs (the hamstrings and Achilles tendons) and in our shoulders, necks and backs. The tendency for the upper back and neck to be out of alignment, can be directly related to headaches, rapid aging and even bone deterioration.
Our internal organs need room to move and breathe, and how young our body stays, especially internally, can be directly related to the mobility and motility of our organs — the ability of the organs to move easily, bending and compressing as we move, and to have a healthy fluid flow within and around themselves, which helps our organs retain their elasticity. The squatting position helps to reinforce the inherent mobility and motility of organs.
The hang aka, Forward Bend (Uttanasana) is about lengthening and loosening the back of the body — the hamstrings especially — but also the often-tight low back muscles and shoulder girdle. Hanging the torso over is also an inversion, and will start to get the body used to being turned upside down — something most of us stop doing after we pass cartwheel age.
Allowing the body to extend in this way takes pressure off the vertebrae and allows the spine to lengthen without compression. This also gets us ready for backbending poses, where we are lengthening the spine — but also compressing it instead of lengthening and opening between the vertebrae. Hanging allows the muscles of the legs and hips to stretch, while at the same starting to strengthen them. It's also calming to the nervous system. In succession with the squat, it helps to free the hips, calm the mind and strengthen the lower body.
Adapted fromEnergy Medicine Yoga: Amplify the Healing Power of Your Yoga Practice by Lauren Walker (Sounds True, Oct. 2014).
Lauren Walker is a teaching assistant for Donna Eden as well as a certified energy medicine practitioner and a senior student of Para Yoga creator Rod Stryker. She started the yoga program at Norwich University and now teaches Energy Medicine yoga internationally. She lives in Montana. Visit lkwalker.com.