If there's something around your house that you can hold on to (like a door frame, for example) then a whole suite of subtle push–pull hanging exercises are available to you.
Muscles (and fascia) that can be worked this way include (but not limited to) latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, obliques, the paravertebrals (the muscles on either side of the thoracic spine), and all parts of trapezius. It's the combination of pulling and pushing forces that work so well.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Hi there, Olivia here. This video is going to show you a really effective way to use a simple bit of equipment, in this case, a pole, to help you relieve tension that you might be holding between the shoulder blades in the middle back area. And then we'll be able to turn it into a very powerful lat stretch, so this whole long line of big muscles through here, and towards the end, we'll be able to target all the muscles in the waist and quadratus lumborum the deep low back muscles here. So it's a multi-purpose exercise, definitely.
If you don't have a pole, you could use a doorframe. You can get quite as a good grip, but it will work. Or if you're in a space where you've got some ladder bars then by all means use them as an alternative. So I'm going to just do the right hand side of my body, the one facing camera, so you can see it clearly.
So I'm standing a little bit away from the pole, my feet are spread apart, my knees are bent and very grounded and my right arm I'm going to reach across my body. The height at which you have that hand in relation to the shoulder will affect the stretch. I am going to have my hand just a little bit above head height. That works for me, but there's no exact position for that top arm. You may then want to step the feet a little bit closer because the first force we're employing here is hanging off that right arm. It has the effect of drawing the arm off the body and already I'm getting a little bit of a stretch through the right-hand side of the middle back there. Then, pull on a strong tail tuck and imagine someone's very gently pressing into your chest here. The effect being that you're really rounding through that middle part of the back and the shoulder blade is being moved around the rib cage. So protraction, in other words.
Now I'm going to let my head hang forward. It's much easier to relax in that way. The other hand, I'm going to reach it across and hold like this. Because with that hand, I want to be able to both push, to get more spreading between the shoulder blades. But I also want to be able to hold onto the pole and pull a little bit because now as I add some rotation around the shoulders that changes the stretch quite a lot. I can sink down a little bit more, tuck the tail more, push more than the bottom hand, the left one. Pull [across] more with the bottom hand, all the while breathing deeply into the back of the body. Really deep breaths. Then I'm going to start adding some twisting around my hips. I'm drawing the right hip back, pulling the left hip forward. I'm pushing a little bit more with my left foot, and that provides this vector. All sorts of different tissues are getting impacted by these forces I'm employing.
All right, now, I'm going to creep my feet around and turn myself into a little bit more of a pure side bend. The left hand because it's roughly opposite the armpit, if I now focus on pushing with that hand, it gives me a very powerful stretch up here, right up at the top towards the armpit. If I then scoot that hand down a little bit and push in that way. Now the stretch is emphasized lower down. And if I then put the hand much lower and push so that I'm trying to direct myself sideways and up a little bit, now that whole right side of the body and quite powerfully through the right side of the hip there is getting stretched very strongly. I can let the head relax. I can tuck a little bit more. I can untuck with the pelvis and feel what that does to change the locus of the stretch.
When I've got some combination of side bend and pelvic tilt, that's really given me a strong stretch. Then I start adding some rotation movements. You can imagine you're rotating around the shoulders, but you're really rotating around the shoulders and the hips in one way... In one block, I should say. It feels really nice to just do some slow controlled movements, but at any point you could just pause there. Now because I've rolled the right hip and shoulder back quite a way, I'm getting a very powerful stretch through here, part of these obliques. The bottom hand, the left-hand if I push a little bit more through there, then that really pulls on that oblique stretch. Then if I go the other way and I strongly tuck the tail, you might want to change your grip so you can push. Now, I'm getting a very strong stretch in the deep, lower back muscles there on the right hand side. There really is nothing you can't target in this sequence and to come out, turn face on and wriggle around. Oh, that's just marvelous everywhere through the right side of the torso there. Give that one a go.
*bird effects courtesy of the resident colony. Galah definition: a silly man, or a member of *Eolophus roseicapilla,* in this case the latter.