I’m pretty certain that the woman pictured above does not suffer from poor posture and upper back pain. Look at those back muscles…awesome!

Upper back pain often occurs because our middle trapezius and rhomboids are weak or inhibited and our pectoralis major is tight. This pulls our shoulders forward thus lengthening our back muscles, long and inhibited muscles are the ones that cry out for attention (pain) but truly they are the victim is this scenario not the perpetrator (pecs).

Assuming you have been stretching your pecs for the last week as suggested from last weeks blog we can move on to back activation. If you have not, sadly, you will have to go back to last week, do not pass go and do not collect $200. Tight muscles need to be stretched first before long inhibited muscles can be activated.

Anatomy Lesson

Middle trapezius: refers to the mid fibres of the trapezius muscle they attach from the vertabra to the shoulder blade (scapula) and their action is to retract (squeeze together) the scapula.

Rhomboids: there is a major and a minor rhomboid but for the sake of ease I’m grouping them together just like the body does…haha! Rhomboids attach from the vertebrae to the scapula and sit deep to the trapezius. Their job is to retract the scapula and hold it flush with the thorax.






When these two muscles are inhibited or weak you will get

  1. Rounding of the shoulders
  2. Pain in upper back and neck
  3. Poor posture
  4. Headaches
  5. Low back pain

If you’re like me, the minute someone touches my upper back I’m putty in their hands. We force our kids to massage our shoulders and back, we use the corner of a wall, there are a million different contraptions to help us massage our own shoulders but it’s just never the same as when a massage therapist does it! Although, to have permanent relief of your upper back pain you will have to do some resistance exercises.

These are my two favourite back strengthening exercises.

Wall Angel

  1. Find yourself a nice roomy chunk of wall and stand with your back to it.
  2. Feet should be shoulder width apart, knees relaxed.
  3. Heels, hips, spine, shoulder blades, and head against the wall. If you cannot get your head to the wall use a small towel or pillow between your head and the wall.
  4. Try to keep your chin level with the floor and your neck relaxed.
  5. Elbows start at 90 degrees with your arms parallel to the floor.
  6. If your finding it difficult to keep your spine to the wall move your feet away from the wall until you can maintain contact with your spine. That part is important!
  7. Raise your arms up to your ears and lower them to 90 degrees…like a snow angel!
  8. Remember to breath, and keep your tummy tight.
  9. Do 15-20 reps every morning and glow in your better posture

Standing Scapular Push Up

  1. Turn to face the wall.
  2. Stand with your body at a slight angle from the wall as if you were doing a regular wall push up.
  3. Place your forearms on the wall directly in front of you with your elbows in line and level with your shoulders.
  4. Bring your torso toward the wall with the intention of squeezing your scapula (shoulder blades) together.
  5. Hold for 5 seconds.
  6. Remember to keep your core engaged, neck relaxed and breath.
  7. Do three sets of ten with one minute rest between sets.

As always if you have any questions or are finding the exercises difficult don’t hesitate to email me at brooke@cadencehealth.ca