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Episode 230: A Holiday Gift For Your Back

Video Highlights

- A concise and effective back drill set.
- Clearly explained, easy to perform anywhere drills.
- Drills you can do daily in minutes.

Today, we’re going to talk about how to give your back muscles an early holiday gift.

I had a great conversation the other day with a client of mine. We were talking about his back and he said, “You know, I’ve been doing all these different stretches and things for my back and it still gets tight during the day.” And I finally got to explain to him, I said, “Listen, one of the things that you have to understand is that tightness comes about also because you don’t contract the muscle hard.”

So one of the things I love to show people is a lot of times particularly with your back, a little bit of practice of muscular contraction can actually lead to a lot more relaxation because muscles really do two things: they contract and they relax. So if you never contract them, sometimes it’s hard for your brain to understand how to relax them.

So thinking about the holidays and you’re over there, you’re wrapping gifts and getting really tight writing all those Christmas cards. I want to take you through a very, very brief little training session for your back. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to work through this together.

We’re going to go slowly, number one. Number two, whenever we do any of the muscular contractions because these may be positions that are new to you, don’t go hard. Think about a level three out of ten. If it feels like you can create a little bit more, go for it, but again I want you to be comfortable with this.

The whole idea is to relax you, not make you miserable. So take it easy, don’t contract too hard in the beginning, and just focus on the actual movements.

Now the way that we’re going to work on this is we’re going to start off with our shoulders a little bit. So all that I’m going to ask you to do is we’re going to work on your right shoulder.

We’re going to lift it up, turn your head away, pull the back of your head toward your shoulder, and then relax down. Other side. Turn your head, lift your shoulder up, bring your head back to your shoulder, little bit of compression there, and relax down. Again, three out of ten. Starting to hurt, you’re going too hard. So nice and relaxed.

Now let’s do that one more time. So turn, lift the shoulder, tilt the head back, and then you can slowly come out of there.

Opposite. Lift up, turn, tilt back, and come out of there.

Now, we’re going to go to your shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are interesting. What we’re going to do is we’re going to take our right shoulder blade, we’re going to pull it back, we’re going to lift it way up, and then we’re going to try to kind of roll it down like this. It’s going to be a weird sensations particularly that rolling motion. But lift up, pull back, roll it down, and you will feel a nice little contraction just between your spine and your shoulder blade. Other side.

Lift up, pull back, roll it down a little bit. Remember, three out of ten. Up, back, roll it down. Starting to feel a little bit of motion.

Woman holding her lower back in pain.

Now we’re going to go to what’s called your lat. Now for your lat, we’re going to also have to include your pelvis a little bit in this. Imagine you’re wearing a belt.

So what we’re going to do we’re going to bend out knees, take our right arm, turn your right arm in, pull it back behind you. Now from here, you’re going to pull your shoulder blade down and try to pull the arm across the midline of your body. Now from here, I want you to roll your belt buckle down toward the floor. So this is called an “anterior tilt.” And then try to lift the belt up on that side.
Now if you just bring everything together. You get a little bit of a pull or contraction down toward your waist.

And we’ll do that one more time. Turn it in, pull the arm back, pull your shoulder blade down, pull your hand towards the midline of your body, bend your knees, tilt the belt buckle forward, life the belt up, bring everything together.

Other side. Turn the arm in, pull it back, pull it across, pull the shoulder blade down, we’ll go through that pelvis thing again. So we’re going to tilt the belt buckle to the floor. Now lift the left side of the belt up to the ceiling. Bring everything together. And once more. Turn in, pull back, shoulder blade down, pull it across the midline of the body, belt buckle to the floor, left side of the belt up to the ceiling, pull everything together.

Your back should be feeling a little bit more awake now. We basically kind of worked on some of the surface muscles. What we want to do know is go right along the spine, so we have two more exercises.

Really simple. So what we’re going to do we’re going to protect our spine and our neck by getting nice and tall. We’re going to bend our knees. Right now for the first go, we’re going to actually tilt our shoulders to the right. We’re going to turn our shoulders backwards.

So we’re going to basically tilt to the right, rotate to the right. Now from here, we want to roll the belt buckle to the floor, lift the belt buckle up on the right, and now we’re going to imagine taking our collar to our belt. Just going to lean back a little bit into that motion. Get a nice little contraction all the way down the right side of the spine.

Let’s do that on the left side. So again, bend the knees, you’re going to tilt to your left, turn to your left, belt buckle goes to the floor, now we’re going to lift the left side of the belt up, now we’re going to take the back of our collar, try to touch it to our belt, stay nice and tall as you do that, and come out of it.

You should really be feeling your back now. A little bit of blood flowing. Maybe starting to relax a little. You should be a little bit more comfortable.

Our last exercise then is almost exactly like what we just did, only now we’re going really deep in the spine. And the way that we’re going to do that is we’re going to again bend the knees, tilt to the right only now we’re going to turn to the left. From here, we’re going to roll the belt buckle forward, lift the belt up on the right, and think about the back of my collar going to my belt right down the middle of the spine. Nice little contraction.

Opposite side. So again, tilt to the left, turn to the right, belt buckle to the floor, life the belt up, back of the collar, back to the belt. Again, nice little contractions.

So these are a little evolutions of things we call “Assisted Contractile Mapping.” It’s not really anything complicated, it’s just saying, “Hey, these muscles do these different things together and if we can do a little bit of work on them very precisely, it gives you a little bit more awareness of your back.”

Now after having done this, you should like I said feel a little bit more blood flowing.

Most importantly, the whole idea here is to help you relax.

After you’ve done those different exercises, take just like one minute. Deep breathing, shake out any tension, maybe bounce on your heels a little bit if that’s comfortable for you, take a little bit of a walk. You should feel fantastic.

So I hope you enjoyed that little gift for you back muscles.

If you have any questions about it, let me know. Otherwise, good luck and enjoy the week.

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