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Foam Roller: Upper Back Relief

A lot of people suffer from tightness in their upper back and shoulders.  Sometimes it feels like knots between your shoulder blades, while other times the pain might feel like it’s spreading from your upper back into your neck. The main cause of upper back and neck pain is a sedentary lifestyle, and extended use of computers, phones, and tablets. Upper back pain also easily leads to neck pain.

The key to foam rolling your upper body is actually to not roll much at all. Instead, use the roller to isolate smaller areas and allow them to release slowly from the pressure of your body’s weight on the roller.

If you need a reminder, read the general instructions on how to foam rolling, here.


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Lying Lateral Shoulder Raise

This is an incredible exercise for working the lateral deltoids. If you have back problems this is ideal because your spine is straight and relaxed.

Anchor your band to the door at your knee height. Grab a handle in each hand and lie on your back, away from the door. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Keep your spine straight and your head aligned.

Exhale as you contract your deltoids and move your arms horizontally until your elbows are in line with your shoulders.

Inhale and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat.


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Resistance bands rear deltoid row

This exercise targets the rear shoulder. You want to do this exercise to keep your shoulders balanced.

Anchor your band at the bottom of the door. Grab a handle in each hand, keeping your back straight and knees bent. Your arms should be extended.

Exhale and pull the band towards your chest bringing your elbows out and holding them on for a few seconds squeezing tightly.

Inhale as you go back to the starting position. Repeat.

 


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Standing dumbbell front raise

This is a classic shoulder exercise. It focuses on the anterior head of the deltoid.

Stand holding dumbbells lightly touching thighs and palms facing your thighs. Your elbows should be straight or slightly bent. Your feet slightly wider than hip distance. Contract your abs, bracing your torso and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Do not allow the back to arch. Your head should be aligned with your spine.

Exhale and slowly raise the dumbbells up in front of your body. Your elbows and upper arms should rise together and lead the movement ahead of the forearms and dumbbells. Raise the dumbbells until your arms are level with your shoulders, parallel with the floor. Do not allow the back to arch. Keep the wrists in neutral, do not allow them to bend.

Inhale and gently lower the dumbbells back to your starting position in a controlled manner. Keep your elbows straight and neutral grip position.


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Dumbbell Reverse Fly

Reverse dumbbell flyes strengthen the posterior shoulder and upper back. Strength and development in the rear shoulders and thoracic spinal muscles improve upper body posture, function, and movement.

Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing your body, and your knees slightly bent. Keeping your back flat, bend forward at the hip joint.

Exhale and slowly raise the dumbbells up, forward and out to the sides until your arms are almost level with the shoulders, maintaining a slight bend in the elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to your starting position. Repeat.


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Swiss Ball Straight-Arm Dumbbell Pullover

The primary muscle worked during the straight-arm pullover is the pectoralis major, which is the largest muscle in the chest. Your lats are also heavily involved. Both are responsible for performing shoulder extension during the pullover. The posterior head of the deltoid also assists shoulder extension. Your triceps brachii, at the back of your arms, work to keep your elbows extended as you lift and lower the dumbbell.

Sit on the stability ball holding the dumbbell with both hands. Slowly begin walking your feet forward as you tuck your tail under, lowering your spine onto the ball as you walk your feet away from the ball until your head, shoulders and upper back are resting on the ball. Feet should be parallel and shoulder width apart. Knees are bent to about 90 degrees with your thighs and torso at or nearly parallel to the floor. Distribute your weight evenly through your feet. Finally, lift the dumbbell straight up over your chest as the palms rest on the underside of one of the sides of the dumbbell.

Inhale and slowly lower the weight down in an arc behind your head, while keeping your arms straight, stretching out your chest.

Exhale as you return the dumbbell back to the starting position.


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Lying Rear Lateral Dumbbell Raise

The incline rear deltoid raise is an effective way to target your posterior deltoid. The incline position of this exercise isolates the deltoid (shoulder) muscles, which makes the movement more rigorous. Because it’s done on a bench, the lower back is supported, reducing the risk of injury.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, lie on a bench facing the backrest, which is angled at 10 to 30 degrees. Allow your arms to hang toward the floor with your elbows slightly bent and back of our hands facing each other. Brace your core and abdominal muscles to stabilize your spine.

Exhale and slowly raise the dumbbells up, forward and out to the sides until your arms are almost level with the shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you reach the end position. In the raised position, your arms should look like a “V”. Keep your torso firmly pressed into the backrest and do no allow the back to arch.

Inhale and slowly lower the dumbbells back to your starting position. Repeat.

Technique is very important in this lift. If the dumbbells are raised to an end position behind the head, the emphasis shifts off the shoulders and onto the latissimus dorsi (back).


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Alternate front dumbbell raise

This is a popular exercise for the anterior deltoid. It isolates shoulder flexion.

Stand holding dumbbells lightly touching the front of your thighs and palms facing your thighs. Your elbows should be straight or slightly bend.

Engage your abs and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keep your spine in a neutral position. Your head should be aligned with your spine.

Exhale and slowly raise one dumbbell up in front of your body until your arms are level with your shoulder. Your elbow and upper arm should rise together and lead the movement ahead of the forearm and dumbbell. Do not allow the back to arch or the wrists to bend.

Inhale and gently lower the dumbbell back to starting position.

Repeat with the other arm.


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Resistance Band Lateral Raise

An easy way to work our deltoids with a resistance band.
Stand on the band with your feet slightly wider than hip-width apart.  Grab one handle with each hand, elbows relaxed, palms facing your body.  Contract your abs, bracing your torso. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Keep these engagements throughout the exercise. Your head should be aligned with your spine.
Exhale and slowly raise the hands up and out to your sides. Your elbows and upper arms should rise together and lead the movement ahead of the forearms and dumbbells. As your arms near shoulder level, turn your thumbs slightly upward. Continue raising until your arms are level with your shoulders. Do not allow the back to arch or the wrists to bend.
Inhale and gently return to your starting position. Keep your elbows almost straight, maintaining the neutral grip position. Repeat.


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Seated dumbbell shoulder press

A basic exercise for the shoulder.

Holding a dumbbell in each hand, sit with your back against a backrest so that your head, shoulders and butt make contact with the bench. Place your feet firmly on the floor.

Exhale and slowly lift the dumbbells to shoulder height, and shoulder width or slightly wider. Palms facing forward, and wrists in a neutral position (straight). Do not allow the wrists to bend throughout the exercise. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. This is the starting position.

Exhale and press the dumbbells overhead until your elbows are straight. Do not allow your low back to arch.

Inhale and bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells. Mindfully contract the muscles of your back and arms to bring the dumbbells down.

Don´t let the gravity do your work.


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