Activate your muscles to avoid back pain and correct your posture
With the incidence of back pain on the rise and people spending longer hours at their desks or commuting, correct posture, flexibility and strength is a necessity in order to stay injury free when we do participate in sport.
The problems associated with poor posture are regularly documented and can include a combination of back, neck and shoulder pain along with possible headaches and other ailments.
No matter how hard we try to adopt the ‘perfect posture’, you are always likely to catch yourself sitting poorly in the car, or front of the computer or television. The common ‘slouched’ position usually involves rounding the shoulders, slumping through your back, and compressing your neck as you attempt to keep your head lifted. The more time we spend in this type of posture, the more restricted we become.
When it comes to activity this has a huge effect on the functionality of the torso and shoulders especially in sports such as swimming, tennis, squash and golf, to name but a few.
By slumping, we compress the tissues at the front of the body around the sternum and close down the spaces between the ribs. In turn, we stretch and de-activate the musculature of the back, making it even harder to extend the spine when we need to. This has a knock-on affect into shoulder function, limiting our mobility (particularly in overhead movements) and predisposing us to injuries.
In a similar vain to the previous muscle activations, there are points on the front of the body that we can stimulate in order to improve the function and strength of our torso and shoulders.
Try It Yourself
To evaluate your movement, start in a sitting or laying position and reach overhead with a straight arm. Take a few seconds and have a think about the movement feels. Make a mental note of what is stopping you from going further, is it pain or just a little tight?
Time to Activate
1. Find the bottom point of your sternum. Massage the area with your fingertips (This may be a little sore) and then gradually work upwards along the length of your sternum to the bottom of your neck. Go back to the starting point at the bottom of the sternum. This time, massage downwards along the edge of your ribs.
2. Location 3 is positioned under your armpit. Cross one arm across your chest, laying your fingers on the muscles in between the ribs 2-3 inches below your armpit. Give this area a good rub, following the lines of the ribs back and forward.
3. The final area is on the edge of your pectoral muscles. Again, cross one arm across your chest. Lay your fingertips in a line between your collar bone and armpit. Similar to before, give this area a good firm massage, hooking your fingertips into the muscle slightly.
Now that you are activated, repeat the initial test and see what feels different!
Applying these techniques, can help to keep the tissues supple and maintain mobility through the Thoracic spine and shoulders. It can also be beneficial using these techniques directly before activity as a preparatory exercise.
If you are recovering from back pain, then try our specialist Back Care Pilates class taught by expert Cherry Baker. Cherry will help guide you through some exercises, step-by-step to help aid your recovery.
Article by Alex Drummond