TREATING YOUR BACK PAIN WITH MOVEMENT

TREATING YOUR BACK PAIN WITH MOVEMENT

Out of all the injuries someone will go through in their life, there is none more prevalent and debilitating than that of a low back or spinal injury. Not only does the injury drain you of your power, strength, and mobility, it can also impact your mental wellbeing, and can be very tricky to fix.  

Many diagnoses come from observing MRI scans, and if something appears “off” on the scan, it is assumed that this specific area of the body must be the source of pain. This presumption could be incorrect for many reasons. First and foremost is that disc bulges are extremely common and very often show up on MRI scans. Researchers estimate that at least one third of healthy, pain free 20-year-olds have some sort of bulging disk in their spine. Not to mention the number increases by 10% for every decade of life. This means that about half of all 40-year-olds likely have a disc bulge yet experience no back pain whatsoever.  

In 2006 a group of researchers collected 200 MRI scans of individuals without any history of back pain. Those who developed severe pain during the study had new MRI’s taken and these results were compared to the original MRI’s. Shockingly, around 84 percent of these individuals who developed pain had absolutely no change in their spine from the original scan. In fact, some people even had improved markers compared to their original MRI. This study proves that abnormality in the MRI does not always correlate to that area being the root cause of pain. This is because it’s very hard to distinguish whether this is a day-old injury or one, they’ve had for 20 years.  

The MRI is also a very incomplete picture of how the spine functions. Most people with back pain experience pain doing different motions. For example, one of my clients with a bulging disk had absolutely no pain when he was standing or walking. However, whenever he bent over to pick something up, he felt it almost immediately. Other clients experience pain in extension, others in rotation, others with a combination of the two. Each of these individuals require drastically different treatment plans, but the only way we would be able to see that is by having them perform these movements. This is one of the very rare cases where a picture is not worth a thousand words. It’s simply a picture, and one we really shouldn’t be placing that much emphasis on. This is not to say to completely throw away the advice of your doctor. In fact, I would argue your doctor should be the first stop along the way to help with the diagnostic portion of your treatment plan. Even if a herniated or bulging disc is not the root cause of the problem, it is still a good idea to get a breakdown of what you’re dealing with. Disc issues can transfer to facet joints in the spine and eventually lead to things like plate fractures or spondolythesis. Always make sure to keep your doctor in the loop throughout your recovery process. If you have not seen any progressions in terms of movement and pain management, or if you are experiencing incontinence (loss of feeling or numbness) in your low body or pelvic floor, it may be time to discuss surgery options with your physician.  

TREATING YOUR BACK WITH MOVEMENT

So, if we want to fix our backs through movement, what can we do about it? In Physical therapy and movement-based therapies such as the ones we perform at LYMBR, we take our clients through something called a Movement Screen. Obviously, all back injuries are different, but most of them fall under the following categories. 

  1. Flexion intolerance (bending over to pick up a box)  
  2. Extension intolerance (arching your back)  
  3. Rotation with extension intolerance (Think golf swing)  
  4. Load intolerance (Think barbell squat)  

Our therapists are trained to help with any of the movement maladies mentioned above. However, there are 3 things you can do that can help no matter what you’re going through. 

1. First and foremost, take a look at your hips. Research has shown that rigid hips are a huge risk factor in the development of low back pain. Stiffness in the hip complex can lead to the spine moving out of neutral alignment during sport or day to day movement. Things like getting in and out of your car can become extremely painful as your tight hips result in the lower spine sustaining uneven forces as it moves into low positions. Another huge portion of the hip complex are the glutes. Many people do not have full access to their glutes due to pain in the hip complex. When we experience pain, the brain shuts down the neural drive to that particular part of the body in order to protect it. Mobility and activation exercises such as assisted hip airplanes, and glute bridges are beautiful corrective movements to help reintegrate the glutes into your biomechanics and assist in fixing back pain.  

2. Once these mobility restrictions have been addressed, you can start to build in better core exercises. I emphasize better because you’re not going to be doing a thousand crunches. In fact, the only three exercises you should be worrying about are referred to as “The McGill big 3”. These exercises were developed by famous Physical Therapist and spinal reconstruction wizard Stuart McGill. These exercises are phenomenal for spinal mechanic coordination, and are amazing for those with back pain as they are performed without placing excess stress onto areas of the back that are aggravated due to injury. Start with the Cat-cow stretch and perform this for 1-2 minutes before jumping into the following three exercises.  (All exercises are demonstrated below.)

  • McGill curl-up: do 3 sets of 5, 3, and 1 holding each rep for 8-10 seconds. 
  • Side plank on the knees: do 3 sets of 3 holding for 10 seconds each rep. 
  • Bird dog: Do 3 sets of 3-5 reps holding each position on each side for 10 seconds. Make sure to keep your back nice and straight and only extend from the hip and shoulder.  

3. Lastly, and this is very important, stop thinking of back pain as a low back problem. Your spine is one cohesive structure, and without all parts working together, you will never be entirely pain free.  Just as the hips can create pain in the low back, restrictions at your thoracic (mid-spine) can be just as problematic. Stretches such as a “prayer stretch” or the Feldenkrais shoulder and neck integrator can be extremely helpful in loosening up the mid back.  

MRI’s can be extremely helpful in understanding the diagnostic breakdown of your body. However, targeting one specific area of pain based on the results of an MRI is what I would call rearranging deck chairs on the titanic. It’s a nice gesture, but this is doing very little to contribute to the solution to the current problem. Addressing the root cause of spinal dysfunction is the best way to remedy pain and promote a healthy, fully functioning body. If you are experiencing back pain, we encourage you to come into our studio for an assessment and stretch with one of our stretch therapists. Our therapists can assist in eliminating any movement and mobility restrictions and get you on the path to recovery. Below you’ll find links to all the exercises listed above, as well as an option to book a session on our website.  

EXERCISES

CAT COW: As you breathe in, arch your back and look up to the ceiling. As you breathe out round your back and drop your chin to your chest. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, do one or two times.  

ASSISTED HIP AIRPLANE: Keep the leg up throughout the exercise. Open your pelvis up and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat going the opposite direction. Repeat this for 5-10 times on each leg. Do it twice.  

MCGILL CURL UP: Bend one leg up, and place that same side hand underneath your low back. In this exercise imagine your head is on a scale. All you have to do is get that scale to read zero. Very slightly lift your head and hold for 10 seconds. Do this for 5 reps, 3 sets.  

SIDE PLANK: Hold for 10 seconds, 5 times. Repeat twice on both sides.  

BIRD DOG: Hold the top position for at least 3 seconds. Do 8 reps on both sides while pulling your belly button towards your spine. Repeat 1-2 times.  

PRAYER STRETCH: You can use a stationary bench or foam roller for this exercise. I prefer a stool or roller chair. Keep your weight back and extend your arms forward. Make sure to keep your weight back as you drop into the stretch or you will fall forward. Repeat for ten reps holding the bottom of the stretch for 2 seconds.  

FELDENKRAIS SHOULDER AND NECK INTEGRATOR: Grab your forhead and rotate backwards, repeat this 10 times on both sides. Breathe in as you turn back. Breathe out as you turn forward.  

Movement is medicine! These exercises and stretches are great to do even when you’re back is feeling really good – be proactive with your health and keep moving.

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist.

The Selflessness and Grace of Motherhood

The Selflessness and Grace of Motherhood


Written by a guy, informed by amazing LYMBR moms.

Whether you are new to motherhood or a veteran, a boy mom, girl mom, or dog mom, this day is entirely for you! 

Motherhood is a full-time job with a varying range of occupations. In one single day you may be a chauffeur, a coach, a nurse, a referee, a therapist, a chef, a maid, a teacher, not to mention you’re on call 24/7. As fulfilling and meaningful as this is, a routine of that caliber can be rigorous no matter who you are or how organized you try to be.

As a man, I have zero expertise to be writing about the trials and tribulations of motherhood. Instead, I like to think that my life has been shaped by the forces of powerful women. My mother, for example, worked extremely hard raising me after my parents’ divorce, working jobs she hated in order to give me a good life. My grandmother fought the oppressive corporate patriarchy in the 60’s and 70’s, and eventually ran HR for huge companies in New York City, helping to prevent that oppression for the next generation of women.  Finally, my stepmother, who could have easily given zero regard to my wellbeing but chose to step up and be a second mother to me; she never missed a game and was there for all the big moments. While I certainly do not and will never have firsthand experience of being a mother, I definitely have experience being raised by stellar role models in motherhood. 

I am also fortunate to work with strong mothers in my LYMBR Community. I spoke to two women Christine and Lisa, both of whom I look up to. Christine is expecting her first child any day now, and Lisa has two awesome kids in their 20’s. I wanted to understand the different mindsets and approaches taken by new mothers and experienced moms. Two moms at different stages of motherhood, with very similar insights into both motherhood and life itself. Here’s what they had to say. 

Christine

1. What are some of the things, physical and mental, that have helped with your pregnancy?

Physically, staying active at least a few times a week throughout pregnancy even if that’s just walking the dog has been so beneficial for me. I went to the chiropractor every week in my first and second trimester which made a huge difference, especially now in the 3rd trimester, because my back pain has gotten better instead of worse. I started a stretch routine in the first trimester and after my LYMBR session (with Conner!). I added [stretching and strengthening] 3x a week, specific to my body. I think that combined w the chiro really helped keep me active and feeling great. Mentally- I actually committed to doing 4 “wellness” activities a month for my mental health. So, they could be anything I wanted and different each month but just something self-care related. So, I’ve gone to sound baths, group meditations, yoga classes and prenatal massages. It’s been a nice reminder to slow down and take care of myself. Almost like a reset.


2. What is the best advice you can give to expecting mothers? 

I wish someone had told me the great side of pregnancy. I’m very fortunate to have had an easy pregnancy, but I spent a good amount of time worried about all of the “what’s to come” from the horror stories I had heard. There’s a lot of “oh just wait until…. The heartburn, the swelling, the nausea, etc. A lot of those things I didn’t experience, and I wish I hadn’t feared what the next week would bring each week. Another piece of advice a good friend gave me in the beginning was find one or two resources/people to get your information from and tune out the rest. This was so helpful!


3. Who was your biggest role model in motherhood?

My mom of course!


4. What is your favorite resource for parenting or motherhood? 

Karrie Locher on Instagram. @karrielocher has so much free and really great info.


Also, Expectingandempowered.com has a pregnancy workout plan that was great, especially in the beginning as I figured out what modifications were best while working out. The founders of the site, Krystle Howald (PT, DPT) and Amy Kiefer (NSCA-CPT) are extremely knowledgeable.


5. What is something that makes you really excited about being a mom? 

Aww so many things!! I just can’t wait to meet her and kiss those baby feet!

Lisa

1. What makes your parenting style different? Who was your motherhood role model? 

While I am clearly my children’s parent, I feel like we also have amazing friendships. I respect who they are individually and try my best to honor that. My mom was incredible as she was a great listener, a calming presence and very approachable. My mom was completely selfless – I wish she had taken more time for herself. She deserved it!

2. Have you imparted some of these lessons to your own children? Have they taken to your teachings? 

I think my kids see me as approachable and easy to talk to. They have definitely seen me take time for myself, which I hope they carry forward when they become parents. Moms are considered heroes for their selflessness, but I think I’m a better mom for not giving away ALL of me. I think they respect the goals I’ve set and conquered. I’ve run marathons, have a great crowd of women that I golf, workout, and hike with, and I have my own business. 

3. What are the biggest motherhood myths and mistakes? What are the biggest wastes of time?   

As I mentioned above, the biggest myth is that moms have to be all things to everyone in their family – we are only human! We need to be happy and satisfied in our own skin to be the best for our children. Balance is key. Being a parent is insanely rewarding and the greatest gift of my life. I feel like I’ve done a pretty decent job because I stayed active and healthy throughout their childhood. Exercise and wellness are both great stress relievers, and parenting comes with mountains of joy and a few hills of stress. 

4. What are your favorite instructional resources on the subject? 

By far I lean on my friends who are mothers the most. We share our troubles and our successes – there is no better group to lean on than those closest to you who know what you are experiencing as a mom. It’s good to have friends who support you and are also honest – sometimes even us moms need a kick in the pants to make some changes that will benefit our parenting. I have been the friend who has encouraged a few mom friends to get out more and take care of themselves. 

5. If you had to train me to be a mother in 12 weeks, with 1 million dollars on the line to get me ready, what would your training program be?   

Wow that’s a tough one. I would say speak to your children in a respectful manner, don’t talk down to them, they’re smarter than you think. Let them make mistakes early so they know what that feels like. While it’s tempting to always let them win at a sport or playing a game, they need to experience the emotions and resolve that come from winning and losing. Set expectations EARLY and stick to them. We went to restaurants throughout the toughest years to bring kids out to dine; birth to 4 yrs. We were sticklers on table manners, staying at the table, appropriate voice levels, etc. It may sound like we were no fun – but we were! (I refused to have kids that flung themselves on the ground and threw tantrums, and they never did.) Another tip is to be honest with them about your own life experiences. A big goal of mine was to create a relationship where my kids could come to me with their problems, especially in those early to mid-teen years. If they see you as a saint who never made mistakes or did anything wrong, you’re the LAST person they’ll come to. 

6. What are your key principles for beginning motherhood? Middle? Future? 

You have to adapt as your child develops their own personality over the years. And it’s important to not have a “one size fits all” parenting style. Every child is different and deserves to be seen as such. Throughout all 3 stages, it’s key to keep an eye on yourself so you can maintain the stamina and joy of motherhood. Stay active doing whatever you enjoy and take time for selfless self-care. Beginning – love everything they do and celebrate all the little achievements that come in those early years. They are tough for sure, but each stage gets better and better, and goes by so fast. Soak in every moment and don’t take it for granted. Middle – get to know your child and nourish their interests. Avoid pushing them towards things that other kids like, you like, or wish you had done. That’s not fair and only sets them up for potential failure. Do, however, encourage them to try things outside their comfort zone. Even as adults, we don’t know until we try, the same goes for kids. It’s good to communicate when you are doing that as a parent so they can see that even you, their hero, tries things that may intimidate us, or we may not be good at. Future – People are always evolving, your kids will too. Be open to watching them grow and don’t label them as one type of person. Who they are at 15 is different from 18, 25, 30, etc. We’re all always growing, grow with them and embrace who they are throughout all of life’s milestones.  

If I learned anything from my conversations with Christine and Lisa it was that there is an inherent selflessness and grace to taking on this job, and no one deserves a day of appreciation and R&R more than the nearly 2 billion moms worldwide. Furthermore, these are great points to not just motherhood, but life itself: Trying to do it all is futile, be selfish with your self-care, and appreciate the little things.

If you’re a mother who needs a day, if you’re a child who wants to show their appreciation, or you’re a significant other who wants to say “thank you,” come in to LYMBR, and give the gift that keeps on giving. 

Written by Conner Fritchley, LYMBR Master Trainer, Darien Stretch Therapist, Son and Soon-to-be son-in-law.

Use Resistance Bands for Flexibility, Mobility and Strength

Use Resistance Bands for Flexibility, Mobility and Strength

Incorporating resistance bands into your exercise routine is a great way to improve longevity and joint health in your fitness journey. You might be thinking, “how can a piece of rubber make that much of an impact on my well-being?” Resistance bands are an extremely helpful and convenient tool that can help you with flexibility, mobility, and strength. 

FLEXIBILITY & MOBILITY

People often use the words flexibility and mobility interchangeably, but they are not the same. What is flexibility? Flexibility is the ability of a muscle or muscle group to be lengthened passively. What is mobility? Mobility is the ability of the joint to be controlled through a range of motion. Let’s look at some examples. When you grab one of your fingers and pull it backward, that demonstrates its flexibility. When you move that finger backward without assistance, that demonstrates your finger’s mobility.  

Some benefits that resistance bands have on stretching are that they allow for a deeper stretch, they allow you to get into positions that are harder to do on your own, and they allow you to decide your own tension. Resistance bands permit you to target areas that are just not possible with bodyweight stretching. LYMBR On Demand has some great stretches that you can use with a resistance band or a stretching strap that will increase your flexibility and mobility.

STRENGTH

Though you may have an idea of what strength is, do you actually know the definition of strength? Strength is the ability to exert force. Yes, resistance bands can improve your strength! Since resistance bands come with various levels of resistance, you can choose which challenges you appropriately. As you progress, you can work on making improvements with heavier bands. When you have reached the ability to work with the heaviest band available, you can stack them to achieve extra resistance.  

Moreover, resistance bands allow for the same amount of muscle activation as weightlifting but a lower chance of injury. The bands for less force on the joints, which means the muscles can be stimulated more. This is great for the injured or older population as well as those who experience joint pain.    

An added benefit is that stabilization is required with many exercises when using resistance bands. Therefore, your ability to stabilize your body will increase. Core activation for balance is very important in many of the exercises. The capacity to control your core through the full range of motion of a movement permits more muscle strength and stimulation.  

CONVENIENCE

Resistance bands are very inexpensive compared to buying multiple sets of weights and different workout equipment. They take up little space and are lightweight (especially mini loop bands) which make them great for travel! Sometimes it can be hard to find a gym while travelling. You can stuff them in your suitcase or backpack and you’ll have everything you need for a full-body workout. 

Resistance bands can improve your mobility and flexibility by allowing you to reach a greater range of motion and achieve a deeper stretch. They can increase your strength in a much safer way than weightlifting due to less force on the joints. So, what are you waiting for? Go get some resistance bands!

Written by Cory Sanon, Stretch Therapist at LYMBR Newton.

Sources:
ssphysio.com.au/mobility-vs-flexibility
setforset.com/blogs/news/6-resistance-band-stretching-and-mobility-exercises
prosourcefit.com/blogs/news/9-reasons-to-use-resistance-bands-for-working-out
Photo Credit: Getty Images/GQ Magazine

Stretching and Weight Training: A Client Story

Stretching and Weight Training: A Client Story

Strength Training continues to grow in popularity, now more than ever. Considering the many benefits – an increase in muscle size and strength, the ability to help maintain a lower body fat percentage, stress management, and, of course, the aesthetics we see in the mirror – strength training has been regarded as one of the most effective ways to stay in shape.

The few minutes you may (or may not) spend stretching after a workout are not substantial enough to give you the benefits you need to keep you progressing at the gym, and keep your risk of injury to a minimum. One to two hours per week of proper, purposeful stretching will help keep you right on schedule at your gym or fitness studio. Stretching on your own, or with the assistance of a LYMBR stretch therapist, will help keep your body performing and recovering to the best of its ability.

An avid weight-lifter, who focuses primarily on upper body exercises, came into LYMBR and expressed concern with lower back pain. A postural assessment was performed and it was identified that his shoulders were rounding forward. This posture imbalance caused the front-side of his upper body to become overactive, and the back-side of his upper body to become underactive.

Over time, the client’s training regimen caused his body to become conditioned to a misaligned posture. Strength training shortens the muscles and creates microtears on the tissue during a workout. These microtears are caused by the tension placed on the muscle from using weights. Through this process, the length of the muscles is shortened, and over time, the more these fibers remain shortened, the more prone you become to injury and compromised posture. 

The physiology of the body tends to seek equilibrium, or homeostasis. The body will always seek a balance in which the body creates a stable internal environment. But in our client’s case, this new stable environment came at a cost. The rounding of his shoulders created an imbalance within the mid-line of his body, which led to certain muscles to over-compensate through this poor posture. And thanks to gravity, the weight-bearing lumbar spine had to support more weight due to the slight protruding head that comes with rounded shoulders, resulting in lower back pain.

Stretching the muscles in the front-side of his upper body helped him regain better posture by lengthening the appropriate muscles. As the muscles lengthened, the rounding in his shoulders decreased. As his body found its new, more efficient equilibrium and his posture improved, the pain resolved as the pressure was taken off his lower back area (primarily the quadratus lumborum and latissimus dorsi muscles).

We are often asked, “what is the best set of stretches for strength training?” The answer – there is no specific stretch regimen. It all depends on each person’s body blueprint, and what they need according to their overall assessment. Whether you’re a beginner, moderate or frequent gym member, the stretch protocol followed is based on the needs of the client. 

Our sessions helped him to better understand how his body works and how to be conscious of when his body is in need of a stretch. With LYMBR as a part of his wellness routine, the client’s workouts are more effective, his movements are more efficient, his training can progress, and he will reduce the risk of further pain or injury.

Not local to one of our studios? Subscribe to LYMBR on Demand and get the first month free. 

Strength and Flexibility, The Perfect Combination

Strength and Flexibility, The Perfect Combination

There is a common myth that when muscles are flexible around a joint, you will get injured and that tight muscles perform better. A tight muscle does not make a strong muscle. You may be very strong through a specific range however true strength means maintaining that strength and position through the full range of motion of each muscle and joint.

In order for muscles to perform at their best and protect a joint, they must not only be strong, they must be mobile. It doesn’t matter how strong your muscles are around a joint, if they do not possess the requisite amount of mobility needed to maintain and progress through position, you put yourself at a very high risk of imbalance and injury.

A strong muscle has the ability to lengthen and shorten while acclimating to the forces placed on it. When muscles and tissues are tight, they are unable to maintain tension and stability through their full range. This leads to improper engagement of muscles, which further leads to compensation and imbalance. Compensatory movement is a breeding ground for injury, and the only way to fix it is by first addressing mobility restrictions. In all sports and activities, proper form is imperative for maximum results and to prevent injury. Proper form can only be achieved if all the muscles that are involved in the movement are healthy, mobile, and able to meet the demands being placed on them.

A tennis player came to see us complaining of recurring elbow bursitis. After evaluation, we found that her bursitis was a result of tight muscles surrounding her elbow joint. This tightness caused a friction force to be applied to the bursa, inflaming it. We stretched the muscles that surround her shoulder and elbow in order to increase blood flow and decrease pressure in the joint. After two sessions with our stretch therapist, the client reported that her pain was 100% relieved. Now that her elbow joint is more mobile, and the muscles are able to fire properly, she is able to play multiple sets without the added stress on her bursa.

Continued sessions with us have helped her to decrease tension forces in her elbow, increase mobility, enhance her posture and improve her tennis form and performance. She is now able to play longer and stronger without pain. Regular stretching sessions have taken her game to another level.

Whether it’s tennis, hiking or your favorite fitness studio workout, chances are you have imbalances and mobility issues. We always recommend focusing on building strength, but it’s equally as important to build on your flexibility and mobility to keep you healthy and able to get the most out of what keeps you moving.

Preventing Neck Pain While Working

Preventing Neck Pain While Working

After a long day of sitting in your chair, staring at a computer, do your neck and spine feel stuck? Whether you are still working from home at a less-than-ideal setup, or back at your office, chances are your posture is suffering from long hours at a desk. Are your shoulders rounded forward, leaving you wondering why your neck hurts? 

We know that poor posture can lead to neck and back discomfort, but coupled with incorrect equipment and workplace stress, this is a recipe for pain. Straining your body all day during work will decrease productivity and minimize your capacity for mental concentration. Both physical and mental stressors increase activation of the upper trapezius more than any other neck muscle. According to The Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, studies suggest that the upper trapezius muscles are activated by psychosocial stress independent of changes in concentration or posture. The Journal explains studies done by University of Colorado’s Physical Therapy Program comparing the effects of mentally challenging computer work performed with and without exposure to a psychosocial stressor on neck muscle activity and posture. The cervical flexor and extensor muscles however, do not experience a change in activity when adding workplace stress. It is important that we know the specific area that is being overworked in response to stress so that we can stretch that muscle and keep it relaxed throughout our day. Taking breaks in between work may be hard for you, so these practical tips will alleviate neck and back pain WHILE you work.   

1. Keep your neck from straining forward for prolonged periods of time 

  • Raise your screen to eye level 
  • Change your font to your eye’s preferred text size 
  • Lead movements with your eyes more than your whole head and slouching with your shoulders and neck 
  • 20/20/20 rule: look at something about 20 feet away every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time 

2. Reset your postural habits 

  • Lean back in your chair, rest your shoulders directly over your hips, keep your chest open and feet flat on the ground 
  • Adjust your screen and chair to an appropriate distance apart without compromising your new seated position 
  • Avoid pinning your phone between your shoulder and head while multitasking 

3. Break up the stiffness from staying still all day

  • Incorporate movement during work (i.e. walking during calls, our CEO is famous for doing this!) 
  • Stretch! Take 6-8 seconds in every rep. Perform 3-5 reps on each muscle. After a brief break (up to 10 seconds) you can perform a second set! 

*As you stretch, remember to exhale during the stretch and inhale as you come out of the stretch. This will help you see the most progress in your range of motion with each repetition.  

Move as far as your body will allow by itself before using assistance. This will allow for a more functional and impactful session.  

Below are some stretches you can perform to improve your posture and relieve pain: 

Neck Extensors 

Bring your chin down toward your chest and release back to neutral position. Try with your hands behind your head, adding light assistance. 

Neck Flexors

Start leaning forward to disengage the muscles that hold your head up, resting your elbows on your knees. Leading with your eyes, look up towards the ceiling. Keeping your mouth closed and teeth together will allow for a deeper stretch. 

Try taking your elbows off your knees and use either your fingers or palms to assist at the end of your range of motion on your forehead.  

Scalenes 

Sitting upright with your head facing forward, gently bring your ear down to the shoulder. Try bringing your hand to the top of the head to provide light assistance towards the end range of motion. Keep your opposite shoulder down. 

Levator Scapula 

Turn your head 45 degrees away from the stretching side (or until your chin is slightly outside the knees). Bring only your chin and head forward toward your chest.  Bringing your hand to the back of your head, perform the stretch and provide light assistance at the end of the range of motion.

Trapezius

Turn your head 45 degrees towards the stretching side. Bring your ear forward and down toward your chest. Perform the same stretch with your hand on the top of your head, bringing your elbow down toward the floor.  

Back Flexion 

Sitting toward the front of your chair, tuck your chin toward your chest and reach your hands in between your knees, down to the floor. If you can, reach your hands towards the back legs of the chair or pull on your own legs to add assistance. 

Thoracic Extension 

Place your hands on your knees for balance. Extend your back, lifting your breast bone, head, and eyes to the ceiling. Try to arch your spine during this movement, be careful to not just lean back in the chair  

Pecs

Start by placing one arm against a wall edge or door frame. Keep your elbow straight and palm against the wall with the arm at shoulder height. Pinch the shoulder blades together. Engaging the back muscles inhibits (turns off) the pec muscle. Turn your shoulders away from the wall. 

Written by Cierra Chamberlain, LYMBR Stretch Therapist.


For more self-stretches, subscribe to LYMBR On Demand and get your first month FREE. Learn more here.

References:  
Bahar Shahidi, Ashley Haight, Katrina Maluf, Differential effects of mental concentration and acute psychosocial stress on cervical muscle activity and posture, Journal of Electromyography and Kinesiology, Volume 23, Issue 5, 2013, Pages 1082-1089, ISSN 1050-6411, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jelekin.2013.05.009 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1050641113001235)