Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Do I Loosen My Upper Back Without a Foam Roller?

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Q: Do you have any suggestions/stretches for loosening the upper-back muscles other than foam rolling? I don't feel like it's doing enough for me.


A: I'm right there with you on this one. That area of the body gets tight easily and is challenging to get to. I often target and massage the tight areas first with a pinkie ball against the wall. Then, I get started with rotating the spine in several different ways. If I'm sitting, I'll do rotation to each side as I lengthen the spine upward—sometimes using the arm of the chair to deepen the stretch a little bit more than what is normal. I'm imagining the spine lengthening upward as I do this and don't let myself side bend as I twist to the side. When I get to the end of my range, I'll stop, take an easy inhale, and on the exhale imagine rotating a little bit more—which inevitably allows for a bit more rotation. Of course do both sides.

You could also do twisted push-ups against the wall or lying on the ground, rotating your hips and legs opposite your upper body. There are so many different ways to rotate and 'wring' the tension out of the spine, like wringing a washcloth. (Which sometimes is an image I use while I'm rotating.) Ultimately, rotation is the key to spine health.

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