December 4, 2012

Undo the damage of sitting! Floor upper and middle back stretch


This is Stretch Therapy's preferred middle and upper back stretch these days. This movement is the antidote to too much computer work (or too much sitting, in general). Could this be you? 🙂

In combination with another of our videos, the Standing Lower Back stretch, you have the complete tool kit for stretching the posterior chain. 

In both of these exercises, a third dimension can easily be added: pull more with one arm, or try gently to straighten one leg at a time once in the stretch: this adds a rotation to the movement, and this focuses the stretch on one side of the spine. As well, by altering the shape of the induced curve, any part of the back can be stretched, in time.

Read transcription

Kit Laughlin:

I tell you what, working on a film set is really a laugh a minute, most of the time. Are you rolling on that camera?

And the camera is level, right?

Speaker two: it is.

And... okay. At my friend Christopher Sommer's request, we're going to show you the floor middle and upper back stretch, which he found so effective in his own body on our last workshop here in the Monkey Gym a week or so ago. Firstly, I'm sitting like this, I'm sitting on both bottom bones and I'm holding... I'm going to hold my own wrist behind my back of my legs like this in a second, just watch. So like this, good strong grip, and then I'm going to wriggle around and make sure that I can feel the bottom bones on the floor, and I'm going to in a second move so that this part of my back here comes as close to the floor as possible. Just watch how I do it.

I walk the feet back like this. I literally hang off my arms like this. And when I've got myself as far back as possible and without tipping over backwards, I literally... just watch, I take a breath in and I literally slump and hang off my arms like this. Now you can't see this from this angle, but when my arms are in this position and my body's weight is hanging off them, the shoulder blades are fully separated. Now I'm going to take a breath in, still maintaining the slump in the lower back, and on a breath out, I now try and pull my face towards my knees like this. And if you look closely you'll see the whole of my spine has been pulled into quite a strong C shape, the letter C.

Now I can do a little contraction here, I can try and pull myself gently away from my legs in this position. I take a breath in, I let myself slump even further, and I pull myself even closer to my legs like this. Breathe and relax. Now try this, your body's actually going to like this very much, especially if you work at a computer a lot, which both he and I do all the time. And I'm going to show you a couple of other little variations too, which can add a little bit of interest and effect. So when you're in the slump position like this, if I try and press my right leg away from me, see what happens? The right shoulder gets pulled forward as well, and then I can slump and pull. And now the effects will be in the right hand side of my back, and if I bring the right foot back to the starting position and press the left one away, you might be able to see my left shoulder being pulled forward now. The contraction can be done as well, slump and pull, and that changes the effect as well.

So try all of those variations separately and together, and see which gives you the best effect in the tightest part of your back, which these days for most people, it's the top half of the back, from about the middle of the back up to the back of the neck. And also, I couldn't do this because it would muffle my voice completely, you can also make the effect in the neck and the upper back stronger by trying to press your chin onto your chest in all of those positions. So try that and let us know what you think, and we are very happy to get your comments on my YouTube channel. Thank you. Cut.


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