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5 Exercises to Treat Low Back Pain and Sciatica

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Start Treating Your Sciatica and Back Pain

Lower back pain

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If you are referred to a physical therapist for your back pain, he or she will likely teach you how to attain and maintain proper posture. The slouch overcorrect procedure is a simple way to teach yourself the posture that is required to maintain appropriate spinal alignment.

Your physical therapist may also use therapeutic modalities to help decrease your pain. While these may feel good, caution should be used; many of these treatments have not been proven to effectively decrease pain-and keep it away.

Physical therapists trained in the McKenzie Method are specialists when it comes to treating people with low back and neck pain. If you can find a therapist certified in the McKenzie Method, he or she will likely perform a thorough assessment of your problem and teach you self-care exercises that can quickly abolish your pain and help you return to your previous level of function.

This is an exercise program commonly used to treat low back pain and sciatica, or leg pain that is coming from your back. They are listed as a progression. Start with exercise number one, and progress as needed through the exercises. You may not need to perform all of the exercises, but if the first one fails to provide you with adequate relief from your pain, try the second one, and so on.

Static stretches for after your workout

Try to incorporate some static stretching once your workout is complete.

Pec stretch

Good for: chests and shoulders

You’ll need a doorway for this stretch.

  1. Step into the doorway and place your forearms on the doorframe. Make sure your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle.
  2. Let the weight of your body fall forward slightly so that you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulders.
  3. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. Repeat 3 times.

Child’s Pose

Good for: shoulders; upper, mid, and lower back

  1. Start on the floor on all fours.
  2. With your big toes touching, spread your knees as far apart as they’ll go and sit your glutes back onto your feet.
  3. Sit straight up with your arms extended above your head.
  4. On your next exhale, hinge at the waist and drop your upper body forward between your legs.
  5. Allow your forehead to touch the floor, your shoulders to spread, and your glutes to sink back.
  6. Hold for at least 15 seconds.

Butterfly

Good for: shoulders and upper back

  1. Place your palms on opposite shoulders and bring your elbows together to touch.
  2. Hold for 10–20 seconds, then release.
  3. Repeat 3–5 more times.

Upper trapezius stretch

Good for: upper back and neck

  1. While standing straight or sitting in a chair, take your right hand and place it on the back of your head. Take your left hand and tuck it behind your back.
  2. Using your right hand, gently pull your head toward your right shoulder.
  3. Hold this for 10–15 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Levator scapulae stretch

Good for: neck and upper back

  1. While standing straight or sitting in a chair, turn your neck 45 degrees to the left.
  2. Bend your neck downward (imagine you’re looking into a shirt pocket). You can use your left hand for a greater stretch.
  3. Hold this for 10–15 seconds.
  4. Repeat on the other side.

Building Strength With Assisted Pullups

If you strain your neck to reach up and over the bar, evaluate your readiness for pullups. You may need to build proper strength before trying to execute a full dead-hang, body-weight pullup. Use an assisted pullup machine, which supports some of your weight, to build proper form without straining to reach your chin over the bar. If you don’t have access to an assisted pullup machine, have a spotter hold your legs to support some of your weight as you train. Consider training with an underhand grip, which can be easier to master than the wide-grip, overhand pullup, which is the most challenging version.

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Other Variations of a Push-Up

Whether you are a beginner and need to make this exercise easier, or you’re advanced and want more of a challenge—or want to better target a specific muscle—there is a push-up variation for you.

Bent-Knee Push-Up

This is a modified version of the standard push-up performed on the knees rather than on the toes. Be sure to keep the knees, hips, and shoulders all in a straight line. Do not allow yourself to bend at the hips.

Incline Push-Up

You can also do incline push-ups to make this exercise a bit easier. Stand several feet away from the table or bench. Use the same push-up technique as above to lower yourself until the elbows are at 90 degrees, then raise back up. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Stability-Ball Push-Up

Add core stability work for increased difficulty and effectiveness. Make sure you can do about 20 basic push-ups before trying stability ball push-ups.

Decline Push-Up

Decline push-ups are a more difficult push-up, performed with the feet raised up on a box or bench. You can adjust the box height to increase or decrease the resistance using just your body weight.

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Clapping Push-Up

This is a plyometric exercise in which you push yourself up with enough power so that your hands come off the floor and you clap in midair. This exercise is not for novice exercisers. You can get injured very easily if you haven’t worked up to these.

Diamond Push-Up

The diamond push-up variation targets the triceps brachii. It is done with your hands close together and the index fingers and thumbs of one hand touching the other hand, making a diamond shape on the floor. You then do push-ups with your hands touching the center of your chest and elbows close to your sides during each rep.

Push-Up With Lat Row

This variation adds alternating dumbbell lat rows to the top of each rep. This modification increases the intensity of the exercise, activates the core stabilizers, and engages the latissimus dorsi (back) muscles.

To do it, perform the push-up with hands holding dumbbells versus pushing against the floor. At the top of the movement, pull the weight up to the chest before lowering it back to the floor.

Push-up lat row

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Medicine Ball Push-Up

Perform a standard push-up with one hand on top of a medicine ball. This works the shoulder in a slightly different range of motion, which increases shoulder stability. You can also do an alternating medicine-ball push-up by rolling the medicine ball between each hand after a rep, which can help improve your balance.

Get Superhero-Level Upper Body Strength With Spiderman Pushups

Limitations in MOBILITY: 2 movements to cure them all!?

Limitations in your ability to put yourself in optimal positions during almost any upper body movement are a result of two movement limitations.

Limitations in these positions can lead to a host of different complaints. For the sake of time we are going to pick on NECK PAIN. If you are struggling with one exercise you are likely struggling with another, you just might not realize it.

Position #1: Shoulder Extension Test

Movements: Push Up, Pull Up, Row, Dip, Pull Up (top), Jump Rope, Punching someone in the nose because they have one of those weird miniature poodle mixes.

Attempt to perform the ^^THIS^^ motion

Instructions: Keep the neck retracted while extending the shoulders just beyond the trunk without the following:

  • Increased forward head position
  • Forward shoulder translation
  • Shoulder shrug

If you are unable to replicate the picture above you likely have a MOBILITY problem.

If you can’t perform this motion when you aren’t under load, you will definitely struggle when you are. Especially with repeated repetitions and the addition of weight.

Target Areas for Treatment

Soft Tissue Mobility

  • Pecs
  • Serratus Anterior
  • Upper Traps

Stretches and Joint Mobilization

Chin Retraction

Thoracic Extension (arms overhead)

Open Book Stretch

After working these bad boys out I want you to RE-CHECK the test position.

Is it better?

If not, you need to keep working on it.

Assuming you now have the necessary MOBILITY to perform this motion, we need to make sure you have the required SKILL with the particular movement you are interested in.

 Skill: the necessary strength, stability and coordination to perform the most basic form of a loaded movement (pull up, push up, dip, row, etc.).

Are you able to maintain a good position in the:

  • Bottom of your push up
  • Row
  • Top of your pull up
  • Bottom of your dip
  • Jump roping
  • As you load the arm for a hay maker!

We aren’t as complex as you might think. Many of our daily activities are broken into a few movement patterns.

Follow this sequence:

  1. Create the mobility necessary to perform the pattern in its most basic form. (In this case, Position #1 and #2).
  2. Ensure you have the skill needed to perform your desired movement (Push Up, Pull Up, etc.)
  3. Build capacity with that movement (Endurance and Strength).

If you don’t have the skill to perform a specific exercise or movement, you need to practice. Look at the above definition of skill to make that judgement. If you don’t have the baseline strength to perform one good push up, pull up, dip or row, see below for regressions that will allow you to maintain good form as you work your way back to mastering these moves.

Here are some ideas:

Push Up: Inclined position (Ex. against weight bench or counter), knee push ups

Pull Up: Assisted with a band, inverted row

Dip: Assisted with a band, bench dip

Row: Kind of an outlier since this move typically doesn’t require body weight. Use a weight that allows good form. TRX Row and inverted row are body weight options. Adjust the angle of your body to reduce the difficulty.

The goal here is to demonstrate the ability to maintain proper form throughout each movement with a regression that is appropriate for you.

Joe Muscles next to you may need to take 50 lbs. off his 200 lb. weighted belt during his pull-ups to maintain good form. You may need to work on getting one pull up with good form without any extra weight.

Most of us have one or two good pull ups in our bag of tricks to whip out for an “impromptu” Instagram post. Preventing injury is going to require you to build the strength and endurance to exceed Instagram’s one-minute time cap. DAMN you Instagram!

Adding repetitions and weight to the regression will help you work your way back to a standard pull up, row, dip, push up, etc.

I can’t emphasize this point enough.

We all have high expectations of ourselves. Neck pain after 10 reps is not necessarily a “push up” problem. It may be the fact that you did three other exercises before push ups that started to fatigue the neck. The push up was the breaking point. You need to have a realistic expectation of your current ability, or capacity.

Position #2: Overhead Test

Movements: Overhead Press, Pull Up (bottom position), Snatch

Instructions: Lie on your back with knees bent. Tuck chin (neck flat to ground) with arms flat to the ground in the start of a press position. Press arms overhead by sliding arms along the ground.

Common Faults:

  1. One or both arms come off the floor at any point in time.
  2. Compensatory forward head or extended neck position to keep arms on floor
  3. Compensatory spine arch to keep arms on the floor

Assuming you repeatedly tried to replicate this position without success, once again we have a MOBILITY PROBLEM.

Target Areas for Treatment

Soft Tissue Mobility

  • Pecs
  • Lats
  • Rhomboids

Stretches and Joint Mobilization

  • Chin Retraction
  • T-Spine Drop In (or T Spine Extension)
  • Open Book Stretch (Add: External Rotation at Shoulder)
  • 1st Rib and Scalene mobility

After finding the weak link, it is time to RE-CHECK. If it looks better, great let’s move on. Similar to Position #1, assuming you now have the pre-requisite MOBILITY to perform this motion we need to make sure you have the SKILL necessary.

*If you are having trouble improving your mobility or resolving pain, seek the advice of a qualified medical provider or fitness professional.

Can you maintain the same control and form during your overhead press, snatch, hang position of your pull up (or any variation- kipping pull up, toes to bar)? If not, we need to REGRESS the move. Unlike the shoulder extension position, many of the overhead exercises can be regressed by reducing the weight or working on single arm presses instead of two arms. Other regressions include:

Regressions:

Overhead press: Landmines (Tony goes into more depth in this article).

Snatch: Cleans, Single arm overhead kettlebell squat, single arm overhead lunge

Pull up (bottom): use a resistance band for support, inverted row

What else should I do?

While it’s important to include neck and back exercises in your routine, you’ll want to include a variety of strengthening exercises for well-rounded fitness.

In particular, having a strong core has been linked to reduced lower back pain because the core is involved in stabilizing the spine. The core includes the following muscles (

Exercises to Build Up

Doing other exercises to build up the muscles required for full pullups can also help you build the necessary strength so you don’t need to crank your neck up to get your chin over the bar. Lat pulldowns, biceps curls and dumbbell rows are examples of these strengthening exercises. Train with pullups just two or three times per week on nonconsecutive days to ensure you aren’t overtraining, which can also cause pain in your neck and other muscles, over time.

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Safety and Precautions

You should not do push-ups if you have a shoulder, wrist, or elbow injury. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to see if this is an appropriate exercise for your specific condition.

If you want to protect your wrists, you can place your hands on dumbbells or push-up bars to keep them in a neutral position. If you feel shoulder pain during the push-up or hear a clicking noise in your shoulder, end the exercise.

Repeat for as many repetitions as your workout routine requires. If you have to pass a fitness test (such as the Army Physical Fitness Test), you can use a few simple strategies to build your strength and endurance in order to do more push-ups.

A popular push-up strategy is the “one more push-up a day” approach. This is when on day one you do one push-up, then on day two you do two push-ups, and so on.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What muscles do push-ups work?

    Done properly, the push-up is a compound exercise that uses muscles in the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, abs, and even the legs.

  • How many calories do push-ups burn?

    If performed for one minute, push-ups can burn around seven calories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

  • How many push-ups should I do each day?

    The number of push-ups you should do each day will vary based on your current level of fitness and other factors such as age, sex, and weight. Fitness trainers advise performing push-ups in three sets. To figure out how many reps you should do per set, perform as many push-ups as you can in two minutes and then divide that number by three.

    While some people try to perform as many push-ups as they can within a certain time frame until they tire out, this is not a recommended strategy for daily exercise as it could lead to burnout or injury.

Cheating Up

For your pullup to bring you through full range of motion and thus maximize muscle activation, you must get your chin over the bar. However, doing this by tilting your head back and straining your neck can cause pain in the back of your neck. This distorted technique also cheats you out of the benefits of pullups because you aren’t truly using your back muscles to pull you up. Doing certain pullup versions without a solid base of strength, such as the kipping version — in which you swing your hips to get yourself up and over the bar — can also be a recipe for injury and pain in the shoulders or back of the neck.

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When should I start exercising after injury?

Getting back to exercise too soon can worsen an injury, making your recovery process even longer. Therefore, it’s important to allow your injury to heal and slowly return to your regular activities.

It’s best to avoid exercise until you’ve noticed improvements in your pain, stiffness, and swelling.

A good sign is when you’re able to perform normal household tasks and daily activities with little to no pain and have full or almost full range of motion.

If you’re unsure, it’s best to talk with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise.

Summary

It’s best to avoid exercise until your pain, stiffness, and swelling have improved. Exercising too soon can worsen your injury and prolong your recovery process.

Common Mistakes

It is easy to start making errors with push-ups if you are fatiguing or if you haven’t built enough core strength. Look for these issues and switch to an easier variation if you can’t maintain the best form.

Sagging in the Middle

One of the most common mistakes is sagging in the middle, caused by not properly bracing the core or keeping the torso stiff throughout the movement. You can practice with a modified plank exercise to build your core strength. Once you master that, try doing a push-up on your knees, practicing keeping your torso stable.

Improper Neck Alignment

Your neck should be in neutral alignment, the head in a straight line with the spine, eyes to the floor, and the top of your head pointed away from your feet. If you point your chin up or drop your head so much that you can see your toes, you are out of alignment.

Locked Elbows

Locking your elbows at the top of the movement is a mistake you might make as you fatigue and want a little rest. But this places too much stress on the joints and can lead to strain or injury. Always keep a slight bend in the elbows. If you are fatigued, it’s time to take a rest before doing another set.

Hands Too Far Forward

If your hands are farther out from your body than your shoulders you are placing more strain on your shoulders. While you can vary how close your hands are together to get different effects, they should still be under your shoulders.

Limited Range of Motion

If you are only going down partially with most of your push-ups, you aren’t getting the full benefit. It is better to switch to an easier modification (such as knee or incline push-ups) that you can do with the full range of motion.

Which Low Back Exercise Is Right for You?

If you are experiencing pain on one side of your back or leg, then try the first exercise and monitor symptoms as you exercise. Watch for centralization, which is a decrease in leg or thigh pain and an increase in low back pain. Centralization that occurs while you are performing an exercise is a good sign and indicates that the particular exercise is the correct one for you to be doing.

If your symptoms worsen, fail to centralize, or only centralize partially, move on to the next exercise in the list. Attempt the exercise, and monitor any changes in your symptoms. Remember pain that moves closer to your spine is a good sign.

Before starting any exercise for your back, it is a good idea to check in with your healthcare provider to be sure that exercise is safe for you to do. Your local physical therapist can help you decide on the best exercises for your specific condition.

2

When will the pain go away?

If you’re experiencing mild discomfort or an acute injury, the duration of the pain will largely depend on the cause of the problem and the type of injury.

Generally, you may notice improvements within a few weeks or months as your muscles become stronger and your injury heals (

Winged Scapula Exercises

Note: The following exercises for Winged Scapula are designed to be gentle and pain-free.

1. Release the pec minor

pec minor release for winged scapula
pec minor release for winged scapula

Instructions:

  • Place a massage ball directly underneath of your Pec Minor.
    • To locate your Pec minor, check it out on Google.
  • Apply your body weight onto the massage ball.
  • Proceed to perform a circular motion over the ball.
  • Make sure to cover the entire muscle
  • Duration: 1-2 minutes

2. Stretches for Winged Scapula

a) Levator Scapula

levator scapulae stretch for scapular winging
levator scapulae stretch for scapular winging

Instructions:

  • Hold onto a stationary object at hip level.
    • (You can also use a stretch or resistance band if you have one.)
  • Lean away from that hand to lock the shoulder blade down.
  • Tilt your head towards the opposite arm pit.
    • To increase stretch: Pull the side of your head further using your other hand.
  • Aim to feel a stretch between your neck and shoulder blade.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

c) Pec Minor

pec minor stretch
pec minor stretch

Instructions:

  • Place your hands high up on a door frame. (see above)
  • Tilt your shoulder blades backwards.
  • Lunge forwards.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the chest area.
    • Make sure that you do not arch your lower back as you push into the wall.
    • Do not let your ribs flare outwards.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

(See also: The 7 best Pec Minor stretches.)

c) Front shoulder stretch

short head bicep stretch
short head bicep stretch

Instructions:

  • With both hands on a bench behind you, let your body sink down as low as possible. (see above)
  • Keep your shoulder blades tilted backwards.
  • Keep your elbows in.
    • Don’t let them flare out.
  • Do not let your shoulders tip forwards.
  • You should feel a stretch at the front of your shoulders.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

3. Activate the Serratus anterior

How to fix a Winged Scapula?

… You target the Serratus Anterior!

The main function of the Serratus Anterior is to keep your shoulder blade flat onto your rib cage!

This is the most important part of the blog post: It is VITAL that you know how to activateand feelthe Serratus Anterior muscle working when you are performing the Winged Scapula exercises.

Serratus Anterior Exercise:

winged scapula exercises serratus anterior
winged scapula exercises serratus anterior

Instructions:

  • Assume the wall plank position.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior:
    • Tilt the shoulder blades BACKWARDS.
    • Pull your shoulder blades DOWN and AROUND the ribs.
    • Keep your shoulders long and wide.
  • Keep your neck completely relaxed. (Don’t shrug!)
  • Push your forearms into the wall.
  • Aim to feel the contraction in the lower and side region of the scapula.
    • If you can’t feel the contraction, round your back as you push your forearms into the wall.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Progression: Whilst maintaining the activation of the Serratus Anterior, slide your forearms up/down the wall.

Once you understand exactly how to ENGAGE this special muscle, let’s get started with the Serratus Anterior exercises!

“Mark! How do I strengthen my Serratus Anterior?”

Check out the following exercises!

Note: The exercises are arranged in order of difficulty. Aim to progress to the next level only when you are ready.

Level 1 : Isolate the Serratus anterior

a) Rock back

serratus anterior exercise on the floor
serratus anterior exercise on the floor

Instructions:

  • Assume the plank position with your knees on the floor.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior.
  • Push your forearms into the floor.
  • Rock your body backwards as far back as possible.
  • Make sure you can feel the Serratus Anterior engaging throughout the exercise.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 30 times.

b) Push up plus (against the wall)

serratus anterior exercise on wall
serratus anterior exercise on wall

Instructions:

  • Assume the push up position on the wall with your arms straightened.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior.
  • Push your hands into the wall.
  • Whilst keeping your arms completely straight, proceed to protract your shoulder blades.
    • Think of your shoulder blades gliding down and around.
  • Hold this end position for 5 seconds.
  • Make sure you can feel the Serratus Anterior engaging throughout the exercise.
  • Slowly retract your shoulder blades back to the starting neutral position.
  • Repeat 30 times.

c) Push up plus(plank position)

exercises for serratus anterior winged scapula
exercises for serratus anterior winged scapula

Instructions:

  • Assume the plank position on the wall. (see above)
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior.
  • Push your forearms into the wall.
  • Whilst keeping your forearms on the wall, proceed to protract your shoulder blades.
    • Think of your shoulder blades gliding down and around.
  • Hold this end position for 5 seconds.
  • Make sure you can feel the Serratus Anterior engaging throughout the exercise.
  • Retract shoulder blades back to the starting neutral position
  • Repeat 30 times.

Level 2 : Serratus anterior Exercises (+ Resistance)

d)Push up plus (with resistance band)

resistance band exercises for scapular winging
resistance band exercises for scapular winging

Instructions:

  • Hold onto a resistance band as shown above.
    • (Make sure you choose a resistance you can handle.)
  • Assume the above position on the wall with your arms straightened.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior.
  • Whilst keeping your arms completely straight, proceed to protract your shoulder blades.
  • Hold this end position for 5 seconds.
  • Make sure you can feel the Serratus Anterior engaging throughout the exercise.
  • Retract the shoulder blades back to the starting neutral position
  • Repeat 30 times.

e)Protraction in lying

scapular winging exercises
scapular winging exercises

Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  • Whilst holding onto a weight, lock your arms straight in front of you.
    • Use a weight that you are able to control properly.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior.
  • Push the weight up towards the sky whilst keeping the arm completely straight.
  • Hold for 5 seconds.
  • Make sure you can feel the Serratus Anterior engaging throughout the exercise.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 30 times.
  • Progression: Whilst holding the arm in the same vertical position as seen above, roll your body to the side. Repeat 15 times.

Level 3 : Serratus anterior Activation (+ Shoulder movement)

f) Push up

wall push up serratus anterior exercise
wall push up serratus anterior exercise

Instructions:

  • Assume a push up position on the wall.
  • Activate the Serratus anterior THROUGHOUT movement.
  • Perform a push up.
  • Keep your shoulders wide and long.
  • Repeat 30 times.

g) Wall slides (with resistance band)

wall slides
wall slides

Instructions:

  • Hold onto a resistance band. (see above)
    • Use a resistance that is appropriate for you.
  • Assume the wall plank position.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior THROUGHOUT movement.
  • Slide your forearms up/down the wall.
    • Maintain the pressure on the wall through the forearms
  • Repeat 15 times.

h) 1 arm pivot

exercises for winged scapula
exercises for winged scapula

Instructions:

  • Assume the wall plank position.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior muscle.
  • Push the forearm (on the side of the Winged scapula) into the wall.
    • Maintain this pressure throughout the exercise.
  • Whilst keep that arm fixated on the wall, rotate your body away.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 15 times.

i) Arm raises (with resistance band)

fix winged scapula
fix winged scapula

Instructions:

  • Hold onto a resistance band. (as shown above)
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior THROUGHOUT movement.
  • When raising your hand – Try to push your hands as far away from the body whilst keeping your shoulder blades back, down and around throughout movement.
  • Raise and lower your arms from your side.
  • Repeat 15 times.

Level 4 : Weight bear (Both arms)

j) Plank

plank exercise with serratus anterior
plank exercise with serratus anterior

Instructions:

  • Assume the plank position on the floor. (see above)
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior muscle.
  • Push the forearms into the floor.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds.
  • Do NOT let your shoulder blades cave in.
  • Note: If you are unable to maintain a good position of your shoulder blade, you can do this exercise on your knees instead.

k) Push up


Instructions:

  • Assume the push up position on the floor. (see above)
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior muscle THROUGHOUT movement.
  • Perform a push up.
  • Do NOT let your shoulder blades cave in.
    • Keep the shoulder wide and long!
  • Repeat 10 times.

Level 5 : Weight bear (Single arm)

m) Straight arm plank (with pivot)

straight arm plank with pivot
straight arm plank with pivot

Instructions:

  • Assume the straight arm plank position.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior muscle THROUGHOUT exercise.
  • Lean your weight into the hand that is on the side of the scapula winging.
  • Whilst keep that arm fixated on the floor, slowly rotate your body away. (see above)
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Progression: Go slower

l) Plank (with pivot)

  • Assume the plank position on the floor.
  • Activate the Serratus Anterior muscle.
  • Push the forearm (on the side you are targeting) into the floor.
    • Maintain this pressure throughout the exercise.
  • Rotate your body away as you lift your other forearm off the floor.
  • Return to starting position.
  • Repeat 15 times.

Exercise to avoid when addressing Winged Scapula

Do NOT simply just “squeeze your shoulder blades back together”.

(This movement may actually make your scapular winging even worse!)

Instead, learn how to correctly position your shoulder blades:

How to position the shoulders

shoulder posture

Instructions:

1. Serratus Anterior activation: 

  • Reach and stretch out your hands as far to opposite sides as possible. (see above)
  • Keep your shoulders wide and long.

2. Retraction:

  • Bring your arms slightly backwards.
  • Aim to feel a gentle contraction between your shoulder blades.
  • (Do NOT over squeeze your shoulders back together.)

3.Posterior Tilt:

  • Rotate your arms backwards as far as you can so that your thumbs are almost pointing towards the floor.

4. Final step: Take note of your shoulder position.

Keep this position!

… And gently lower your arms by your side.

Other areas to address

If you have persisted with these Winged Scapula exercises and still experiencing issues with the scapula position, you may need to also address the position of therib cage.

This is influenced by the following:

a)Scoliosis

scoliosis winged scapula
scoliosis winged scapula

Scoliosis refers to the lateral curvature that occurs in the thoracic and/or lumbar spine.

This can affect the shape of the rib cage on which the scapula sits on.

For more information: Scoliosis Exercises

b)Flat Thoracic Spine

A flat thoracic spine (loss of natural kyphotic curve) can make the back of the rib cage flat as well.

This will affect how the shoulder blade sits on the rib cage,

For more information: Flat Thoracic Spine Exercises

Prone Lying, Prone Props, and Press Ups

Photo of a woman performing the upward dog yoga position.
David Lees/ Getty Images

In the case of sudden onset of acute low back pain, you should try the emergency back pain exercises first. Lie on your stomach for a few minutes, then prop onto your elbows for a minute or two. Monitor your symptoms for centralization.

After a few minutes in the propped up position, try a few press ups. Try to keep your hips and back relaxed as you use your arms to press your upper body up. Try to press up as far as possible to restore the normal forward curve in your low back. Say to yourself, “Further, further, further” as you press up. Move your spine through the full, pain-free, range of motion. Perform 10 repetitions and monitor your symptoms.

If your pain does not fully centralize with the press up exercise, you may need to move on to the next exercise: the press ups with your hips off center.

3

When to Worry

If you feel a sudden pop or crack during pullups that causes neck pain, stop immediately and consult your doctor. For mild pain or strain, rest and ice are the typical treatments. Common sense also dictates that you should avoid pullups until your pain dissipates or you risk aggravation of the pain.

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references

  • IronMan Magazine: Pullup Gains without Injury and Pain
  • Military.com: Tips for Better Pull-ups
  • ExRx.net: Pull-Up
  • The Box: The 7 Biggest Crossfit Mistakes
  • The Merck Manual: Approach to Sports Injuries

Press Up With Hips Off Center

The prone press up with hips off center.
Brett Sears, PT 2013

The press ups with hips of center is simply a press up with your hips moved to one side or the other. To do this, prop onto your elbows and shift your hips to one side. Most often, people benefit from moving their hips away from the painful side.

Once your hips are off to one side, perform a press up. You may notice that you are not able to press up as far as you did with the regular press up, but still, try to press up as far as possible. Perform 10 repetitions of the press up with your hips off center, and monitor your pain for centralization. If your symptoms persist, you may need to take the next step in the progression: lumbar side glide in standing.

4

Lumbar Side Glide in Standing

The side glide is used mainly in the treatment of one sided low back or leg pain.
Brett Sears, PT, 2013

If the press up with hips off center failed to offer significant relief or centralize your symptoms, you should then try the lumbar side glide exercise.

This exercise is done standing about a foot from a wall with your painful side away from the wall. Lean your shoulder against the wall with your elbow tucked into your ribs, and slowly push your pelvis underneath your ribcage.

Perform 10 repetitions of the side glide, and watch for changes in your pain. If your pain continues or fails to centralize, try the next exercise: the lumbar flexion rotation stretch.

5

The bottom line

Neck and back pain can be frustrating and debilitating.

In some cases, neck and back pain can be treated at home with daily stretching and strength training.

However, each person’s recovery is unique and may require a longer period of rest before resuming activity. For many, seeking the advice of a physical therapist may further help with recovery.

Read this article in Spanish.

Lumbar Flexion Rotation Stretch

Photo of the lumbar flexion rotation stretch.
Brett Sears, PT, 2012

The flexion rotation stretch is started by lying on one side. Usually, your painful side is down on the table. Straighten your bottom leg, and tuck your top leg behind your bottom knee.

Reach your top hand to your top shoulder blade, and rotate your spine so your top shoulder moves backwards toward the floor. Hold this position for a second or two, and then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 repetitions, and note any changes in your symptoms.

Still dealing with symptoms? You may need to try a lumbar flexion progression. Check out the final step in this program to learn how to get started on that.

6

3 Yoga Poses for Tech Neck

Last medically reviewed on February 25, 2022

How we vetted this article:

History

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Current Version

Feb 25, 2022

By

Nicole Davis, CPT, Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD, CPT

Edited By

Saralyn Ward

Medically Reviewed By

Gregory Minnis, DPT

Copy Edited By

Jill Campbell

Mar 25, 2019

By

Nicole Davis, CPT

Edited By

Frank Crooks

Medically Reviewed By

Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS

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Medically reviewed by Gregory Minnis, DPT, Physical Therapy — By Nicole Davis and Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD, CPT — Updated on February 25, 2022

Benefits of Push-Ups

The abdominal muscles used to hold the body rigid during the push-up are the rectus abdominis and the internal and external obliques. As the push-up involves multiple joints, it is a compound exercise.

The upper body muscles that come into play in the push-up are the deltoids of the shoulders, the pectoral muscles of the chest, the triceps and biceps of the upper arm, and the gluteal or hip muscles, and the erector spinae of the back.

In daily life, you often need to push against objects, from doors to shopping carts. The functional fitness you develop with push-ups provides the strength needed to perform these movements. Working the stabilizer muscles around the shoulders can help protect you from rotator cuff injuries.

A 2019 study also found that people who can do 40 push-ups have fewer cardiovascular disease events than those who cannot complete 10 push-ups. Push-ups can be used as a measure of upper body fitness, allowing you to assess whether you need to be doing more to keep your upper body in good working condition.

Do Push-Ups Burn Fat?

Push-ups do not burn fat directly, but resistance training does burn calories which can help create a deficit needed for weight loss. As well, building muscle can increase your metabolism. However, you cannot spot reduce fat and push-ups will not burn fat off a particular body part.

Lumbar Flexion

Photo of woman stretching her back on the couch.
PhotoAlto/Milena Boniek/Getty Images

The lumbar flexion stretch is done by simply lying on your back with both knees bent. Slowly bring both knees up toward your chest, and grasp underneath your knees with both hands. This opens up the holes on each side of your spine, giving your nerves a little room.

Give a gentle pull to your knees to stretch your back, and hold this position for a second or two. Then, slowly release the stretch. Perform the knees to chest stretch for 10 repetitions and closely monitor any changes in your symptoms.

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  • Stiff Joints: Why It Happens and How to Find Relief

Human Error

Now that you have mastered Position #1 and #2, it is time to make sure that you are limiting HUMAN ERROR.

I think everyone should have someone in their life that serves as an extra pair of eyes. Even the best fitness trainers and medical providers in the world have a hard time being objective toward different areas of their own life. Barbers don’t cut their own hair, right? Not positive about that one. Either way, you can’t go wrong with some quality feedback!

Most of us are quick to blame the boulders in our life when it comes to pain, but we overlook the pebbles.

With pain we can’t overlook the pebbles.

The pebbles are diet, water intake, sleep, and self-care habits.

Patients usually tell me that they are doing “better than most” or that they are “pretty good” about optimizing these areas of their life. It isn’t until their spouse shows up to the appointment that we get the whole truth.

I love it!

Proper Fluid and Electrolyte Balance

Paying attention to what you consume pre and post workout is important. Proper fluids and electrolyte intake prior to exercise can help delay muscle fatigue and cramping.

Many people can get by with less than optimal effort when it comes to this category. However, if you are having neck pain you need to give yourself the best chance at success.

“At least 4 hours before exercise, individuals should drink approximately 5-7 mL·kg−1 body weight (~2-3 mL·lb−1) of water or a sport beverage. This would allow enough time to optimize hydration status and for excretion of any excess fluid as urine” (Sawka, 2007).

This is not always possible, I understand. Do your best. Some is better than none.

Warm Up

Proper warm up is also important.

Engaging in a warm up that gradually increases heart rate and muscle flexibility is a great way to prime the muscles. Dramatic increases in blood pressure and heart rate can lead to less than optimal muscle performance and increased risk of exertion headache during your workout.

Your warm up should be focused on getting the heart rate up; along with preparing the body for the movements you are going to perform during your workout (squat, push up, deadlift, clean, etc.).

Maybe you should try out THIS warm-up?

Источники

  • https://www.verywellhealth.com/exercise-for-low-back-pain-2696217
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/upper-back-pain-exercises
  • https://www.livestrong.com/article/412971-i-hurt-the-back-of-my-neck-doing-pullups/
  • https://www.verywellfit.com/the-push-up-exercise-3120574
  • https://tonygentilcore.com/2017/09/gym-pain-neck-two-movements-cure/
  • https://www.posturedirect.com/how-to-fix-a-winged-scapula/
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