Recently upon showing up at the gym and beginning my movement prep for the training session ahead I have noticed an increase in stiffness in my upper back and shoulders. Which was a bit surprising because I have pretty good posture and try rarely to walk around like quasi moto. This has never been an area for problems personally, so I was a bit surprised when I felt this stiffness for the second consecutive training session. Of course though this stiffness doesn't just come out of nowhere. I knew that their had to be a source of this stiffness and lack of mobility. I begun to evaluate my activity on a daily basis over the last two to three weeks, specifically looking for any changes in activity or habits. Because as we talked about two weeks ago, when I introduced the quadruped adductor mobilization as the exercise of the week, our lifestyle causes many movement dysfunctions and muscle imbalances due to prolonged exposures to certain positions, such as sitting looking at a computer.
What I realized as I was looking back at my activity was a realization that there had been a change in my activity recently. About two months ago I began a second job in addition to training to help make for lack of clientele acting as a medical scribe at one of the local hospitals. The nature of this job is documenting all procedures and interactions between the patient and the provider, but the documenting is all done on a portable laptop while seated. In addition the shifts for this job match the physicians hours, so sometimes shifts can last as short as six hours or be as long as twelve hours. I realized that in the last two or three weeks I had worked quite a few twelve hour shifts with most of the time spent seated typing on a computer.
Which means that over the past few weeks I have had an increased and prolonged exposure to a poor posture that included a rounded upper back, protracted shoulder blades, and excessive anterior cervical extension. All of this explained the reason for my recent experience with thoracic spine and shoulder mobility issues.
I now know that it is this change in lifestyle that has lead to this stiffness and I can place greater emphasis on maintaining my mobility in the upper back and shoulders. The beauty of my problem is and was that because I am training on a daily basis I am able to recognize when imbalances and dysfunctions arise and can start correcting them right away before they become chronic issues. This is one of the reasons putting time in the gym is so beneficial because it not only allows for regular maintenance to be done on your body, but also for regular check-ups to look for possible future problems.
And one of the exercises I have been using in my warm-up more frequently has been the quadruped extension rotation mobility drill. I want to share it with everyone this week as the "Exercise of the Week."
How to Perform the Quadruped Extension Rotation.
1. Begin by assuming the Quadruped position on the ground with your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. You should for a short of chair looking conformation of sorts, only oriented horizontally to the ground. Below is a picture of the correct position.
2. Once you have assumed the quadruped position select an arm to be the working arm and place this arm's hand on your head about the height of where your ear is. The position you have now should look like if you were relaxing in a chair with one arm folded behind your head. Below is a picture of the correct position.
3. To initiate the movement you will begin by swiping the elbow of your folded arm down to behind your straight arm's elbow. At this bottom position your shoulder blade should be protracted and you should be rotated through your upper back. Try to limit movement in your hips and lumbar spine as much as possible this is a drill to focus on thoracic mobility. Below is picture of the correct bottom position.
4. Next swing the folded arm up out from behind your straight arm's elbow still focusing on rotating through your upper back. You are attempting to not only rotate upwards but also extend at the top through your upper back, not your lumbar spine. As your arm swipes upward your should retract your shoulder blade. I like to cue people to watch their elbow this seems to help with the motion. Be sure that the hand on your head is lightly touching and does not have a death grip on your neck. Below is the correct top position.
5. Repeat this motion by again sweeping the elbow down behind your straight arm's elbow and back up again.
Below is a video of me demonstrating the exercise in real time. I hope that this exercise can help you the way it has helped and benefitted me. If you want more information regarding how to improve mobility or fix problem areas feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope everyone has an awesome tuesday!
Practical, Purposeful, Effective Training