the Slump: Exercises for the Upper Back and Shoulders
by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sárka-Jonae Miller
(The Best Years in Life)
Few things make me cringe like seeing an
older person with slumped shoulders and a rounded upper back caused by years of
having weak muscles and bad posture. With the advent of computers, time spent
with one's shoulders unconsciously rounded forward has gone up dramatically,
making it seem likely that many more of us will display the unfortunate
inability to stand up straight when we become seniors. Except for instances on
spinal abnormalities, a perfect slump to one's shoulders is avoidable. If you
want to escape this fate, simply do exercises to strengthen your upper back and
rear shoulders, as well as stretches for the chest.
shoulders round forward, the muscles in your upper back lengthen while the
muscles in the chest shorten. Prolonged periods like this cause tight chest
muscles and weak upper backs. Overtime, this can affect the length-tension
relationships of your muscles and the alignment of your spine. But there's hope!
constantly nagging yourself to pull your shoulders back until it becomes a
habit, targeted strength training exercises can go a long way to preventing a
Quasimodo-like look as you age. Step one is to build up the muscles in the
middle and upper back that retract your shoulders and bring your shoulder blades
this exercise at home, grab some lightweight dumbbells and stand with your legs
hip-width apart. Tighten your abs and bend forward until your back is parallel
to the floor. Let your arms hang and bring your hands together, palms facing
each other. Put a slight bend in your elbows so they are not locked, but do not
bend them any further.
concentrating on your shoulders blades and upper back, open your arms wide and
toward the ceiling. Don't think about lifting the weights, but instead
concentrate on retracting your shoulders. Lower your arms back to the starting
position to complete one reverse flye. Do two sets of 10.
Rear Delt Exercises
From the same
basic position as in the reverse flyes, you can target the muscles in the backs
of your shoulders, known as the rear or posterior deltoids. Try even lighter
weights for this exercise. Start bent over as before with a dumbbell in each
hand, but turn your palms to face your legs. Your hands should begin together
with your arms straight.
weights out to the sides as you did with the reverse flyes. Your arms will be
slightly straighter and more in line with your shoulders throughout the range of
motion. Be extra careful not to shrug your shoulders toward your ears.
arms and weights to the starting position to finish one repetition. Do two sets
of 10, switching to lighter weights if you have any difficulty.
muscles in your chest get tight from constant slouching, it can inhibit your
ability to do strength training exercises for the opposing muscles in the back.
To fix this problem, do a couple of simple stretches.
Stand in a
doorway and hold up your right arm with the elbow bent to 90 degrees. Put your
palm and forearm against the door frame and twist your upper body to the left.
You should feel the stretch on the right side of your chest. Hold for 30 seconds
and then do the same on the left.
You can also
stretch your chest with your arm straight. If there isn't enough room, use a
pole or a corner to put your palm against with your right arm straight out to
the side. Twist to the left, hold, and then repeat on the left.
exercises might not seem like a big deal, but that's because they're targeting
smaller muscle groups that people often forget about. Sometimes, problems with
the smallest muscles cause the biggest structural problems. Try to do this
routine two to three times a week, if your doctor says it's okay.
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About the Author
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the
fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse
University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group
exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy.
Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel,
Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's
Natural Healing Tips
blog or join her on
Sarka-Jonae Miller's "Between Boyfriends eBook"
When "the one" breaks her heart, Jan vows
to change. Read the book
Hollywood & Vine magazine says "presents a unique
twist on the chick-lit genre."
Click on the image above for more details.
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