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Barbell Deadlift

The deadlift is an excellent compound exercise that targets the quads, hamstrings, gluteal muscles, lower back, traps, and forearms. If it´s not done properly, you can seriously injure yourself (such as a herniated disc).

Place the barbell on the ground in front of you and add plates according to your strength and fitness level. Beginners usually start lifting just the barbell, since a typical barbell weighs between 25 and 45 pounds on its own.

  1. With your feet shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing forward or slightly outward, and the barbell is at the midpoint of your feet.
  2. Bend your knees and hips and sit back as if you were going to sit, while you reach down to grab the barbell with hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Grip the bar with both palms facing you. This is the normal or double overhand grip. You can use the mixed grip later when you can’t hold it with a normal grip.
  4. Push your knees out; don’t let them collapse in. Keep your back straight. Bend from the hips rather than from your waist. This is the starting position.
  5. Always make sure your back is completely flat and straight. If there is any kind of bend in your back, you need to do some flexibility work before deadlifting.
  6. Begin the movement by pushing through your heels and straightening your knees. Engage your hamstrings and glutes to pull the bar up.
  7. Raise your hips and shoulders at the same rate while maintaining your back straight. Keep your abs tight during the whole lift. The bar should drag along your shins on the way up.
  8. Come to a standing position with upright posture and your shoulders pulled back, don’t let your shoulders cave forward. Don’t bend backward at all, just stand up straight.
  9. Keeping your back straight, return the bar to the starting position in a controlled manner. Push your butt out as if you are going to sit down in a chair. Do not arch your back.
  10. Repeat until completing the prescribed number of repetitions.


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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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Barbell upright row

This is a basic exercise for your trapezius and will help to build a strong back.

Grasp a barbell with a grip slightly less than shoulder width. The bar should be resting on your thighs with your arms extended and a slight bend in your elbows. Keep your back straight.

Exhale and use the traps to lift the bar, raising your elbows up and to the side. Keep the bar close to your body as you raise it as much as you can. Your elbows should drive the motion, and should always be higher than your wrists.

Inhale and lower the bar back down slowly to the starting position.Repeat.


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Standing dumbbell shrug

A lot of people feel tension in the trapezius muscle, caused by poor posture, stress, or carrying heavy objects. The trapezius helps to keep our shoulder up. When we hold something in our hand the trapezius is working. When we place a bag over our shoulder the trapezius is working. Also, the trapezius supports our head.
The trapezius only gets a break when we lie down. So, it works for almost the entire day. This is why so many people feel tension in this muscle. Strengthening the trapezius is one way to decrease the tension and support these muscles. The purpose of strengthening your traps is not to hold more stress; it is to stabilize your shoulder blades.

Hold your dumbbells in your hands with your palms facing your body. The dumbbells should be alongside your thighs with your elbows straight. Stand in split stance position and pull your shoulder blades down and back. Your head should be aligned with your spine.
Exhale and slowly shrug your shoulders upward. Do not allow any shoulder rotation. Keep the elbows straight. Do not allow the back to arch or the wrists to bend.
Inhale and back to your starting position.

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“Lats” & friends

We usually forget that lats belong to another muscle group, the superficial back muscles. They originate from the vertebral column and attach to the bones of the shoulder – the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. All these muscles are therefore associated with movements of the upper limb.

The muscles in this group are the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, levator scapulae and the rhomboids.

The latissimus dorsi is the larger, flat, dorsolateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.

Origin:

  1. Spinous process of T7-L5.
  2. Upper 2-3 sacral segments.
  3. Iliac crest.
  4. Lower 3 or 4 ribs.

Insertion:

Lateral lip of the intertubercular groove.

It is responsible for extension, adduction, horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint. It also has a synergistic role in extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine.

Pain and symptoms associated with the Latissimus Dorsi muscle
– Pain is felt in the mid-back especially below the bottom of the shoulder blade.
– Pain is felt in the front of the shoulder.
– Pain in the side and or mid-back similar to a side stitch.
– Numbness, tingling and/or aching that extends down the arm to the little finger and often the ring finger.
– Pain while reaching forward with the arms
– Pain when lifting arms overhead
– Can contribute to breathing difficulty.
– Pain does not worsen with activity nor does it ease at rest, it is steady and constant.
Activities that can cause latissimus dorsi pain
– Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
– Gymnastics
– Rowing
– Throwing or pitching a ball
– Swimming
– Swinging a baseball bat
– Swinging a tennis racket
– Shoveling dirt or snow
– Chopping wood
– Exercise that requires pulling up (chin up) or pushing down (push-ups) with the arms
– Reaching forward or overhead repetitiously

The trapezius is a broad, flat and triangular muscle. The muscles on each side form a trapezoid shape. It is the most superficial of all the back muscles.

 

Origin:

  1. External occipital protuberance.
  2. Along the medial sides of the superior nuchal line.
  3. Ligamentum nuchae (surrounding the cervical spinous processes).
  4. Spinous processes of C1-T12.

Insertion:

  1. Posterior, lateral 1/3 of clavicle.
  2. Acromion.
  3. The superior spine of the scapula.

It has three functional regions:

  1. Superior (descending part), which supports the weight of the arm.
  2. Intermediate (transverse part), which retracts the scapulae.
  3. Inferior (ascending part), which medially rotates and depresses the scapulae.

Contraction of the trapezius muscle can have two effects:

  1. Movement of the scapulae when the spinal origins are stable.
  2. Movement of the spine when the scapulae are stable. Its main function is to stabilize and move the scapula.
Pain and symptoms associated with the Trapezius muscle
– Headache in the temple area
– Pain in the jaw that travels down into the neck and over behind the ear
– Pain behind one eye
– Tension headache
– Contributes to dizziness
– Pain at the base of the skull
– Stiff neck
– Ache or burning sensation in the middle of the back
– Pain or tingling during raising or lowering the arms
Activities that cause pain and symptoms in the trapezius
– Whiplash
– Lifting heavy objects
– Working with your arms out in front of you (computer, playing the piano, driving)
– Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
– Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
– Large breasts

The levator scapulae is a small strap-like muscle. It elevates the scapula.

Origin:

Transverse processes of C1-C3 or C4.

Insertion:

The superior angle of scapula toward the scapular spine.

Pain and symptoms associated with the Levator Scapulae muscle
– Pain at the slope of the neck and shoulder
– Stiff neck, difficulty turning head to look over the shoulder
– Headaches at the base of the skull
– Occasionally pain from the top of the shoulder blade extending to the middle of the shoulder blade
Activities that cause pain or symptoms of the levator scapulae muscle
– Keeping head turned to one side ie. Sleeping on stomach, holding phone to ear with shoulder
– Sleeping without proper head support
– Acute upper respiratory infection will cause the levator scapulae to shorten and become stiff and painful
– Painting overhead for extended periods
– Carrying heavy backpacks or purses
– Whiplash
– Forward head posture

There are two rhomboid muscles, major and minor. The rhomboid major helps to hold the scapula (and thus the upper limb) onto the ribcage. Together with the rhomboid major, the rhomboid minor retracts the scapula when trapezius is contracted. Acting as an antagonist to the trapezius, the rhomboid major and minor elevate the scapula medially and upward, working in tandem with the levator scapulae muscle to rotate the scapulae downward. While other shoulder muscles are active, the rhomboid major and minor stabilize the scapula.

Rhomboid major:

Origin:

  1. Spinous processes of T2-T5.
  2. Supraspinous ligament.

Insertion:

Medial scapula from the scapular spine to the inferior angle

Rhomboid minor:

Origin:

  1. Spinous process of C7 & T1.
  2. Ligamentum nuchae.
  3. Supraspinous ligament.

Insertion:

Medial margin of the scapula at the medial angle

Pain and symptoms associated with the Rhomboid Major and Minor muscles
– Pain along the inside of the shoulder blade especially noticeable at rest.
– Popping and/or grinding noise when moving the shoulder blade
– Inability to straighten the upper body out of a slumped position
Activities that can cause rhomboid muscle pain
– Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
– Hanging wallpaper
– Rowing
– Throwing a ball
– Pull Ups
– Extended work at the computer
– Military posture: standing with extremely straight posture with shoulders pulled back, chest thrust forward.