Before you hit the gym for your next upper body workout, take a tip from trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S., to get your upper back and neck ready for the weights.
Atkins recommends that anyone with tight shoulders or a stiff neck — which counts just about everyone who sits hunched over at a desk all day — should take 5 minutes before and after their sweat sessions to work out the kinks with this upper back/neck release move.
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“Soft tissue mobilization or SMR (self-myofascial release) is something you can do on your own before or after a workout to help relieve tension or discomfort in the area of upper trapezius or levator scapulae muscle,” Atkins says.
Getting the proper prep work in won’t just help you feel better, according to Atkins — it can help to prevent injuries, too.
To perform the move, you’ll need a myofascial release ball. If you don’t have one, check out this set, or just use a tennis ball or lacrosse ball.
- Lay down on your back with your knees bent.
- Place ball in your trap muscle, between your shoulder blade and spine.
- Bring hands down by hips and then elevate hips up into bridge position.
- Move your arm through abduction (snow angel movement).
- Move your arm through flexion (hail a cab or raise your hand).
- Take your arm across body towards opposite hip.
Perform this series of movements before and after your next upper body workout for 5 minutes. Your back and shoulders will thank you, especially once you get back to the desk.