I was listening to a podcast the other week by Tim Ferriss, the author of the 4 hour body, the 4 hour work week and the 4 hour chef, and if there is a way to get the most bang from your buck from your life, he has looked at it. On this particular podcast he was interviewing a USA Olympics strength and conditioning coach. Being an olympic year I am already a little in love- we get a few weeks of seeing athletes, at the pinnacle of their careers, absolutely master their given activities and this could not be more true than it is in gymnastics.
Anyways, during the interview one of the questions asked was, “what are some of the basic stretches or exercises you think that everyone should be doing?” The two preferential options came back that were both targeting mobility and movement through our mid back. Initially I thought ok, what is so great about these- then I tried them….
First up- The Weighted Jefferson Curl– this is a beauty, by all means start with zero weight, a bar or a light kettlebell if you have access to one. Preferably stand on a small box or platform, then bend forward super slowly one vertebrae at a time keeping your knees straight and bending forward as far as you can go. Once you are the bottom of the range, hold for a second or two then reverse the move. It doesn’t take too long and the movement through the range is much more important than how far you get at the end, so don’t feel like you have to hold the position. If possible, repeat it 5-10 times. This will do wonders to loosen up your spine, back muscles, gluts, hamstrings and even your calves.
Number two- Seated bridge– I genuinely wish I knew this one years ago. If you have ever been stuck in a chair for too long or spend too much of your day lifting heavy objects (kids or otherwise) in front of you, this is for you! Start sitting with your legs out straight and hands flat on the floor behind you. Keeping your arms straight, scoot forward until you feel a stretch either through your chest or upper back. Start by squeezing the shoulder blades together, look up towards the roof and attempt to pull your chest towards the ceiling. Hold this for a few seconds then drop the head and chest, relax and go again. If possible repeat 5-10 times. This attempts to completely undo the effects of a slouched posture and will also help to prevent that upper back hump formation.
For a long time I have advised sliding your arms up a wall or against a door frame to help move your middle back. To be honest they still work, but this is better!!!! Maybe it’s because you use your own body weight? I’m not sure. If your spine is designed to act like a giant shock absorber, getting some length into it will certainly help! Try both of these, they won’t take long and I am sure you will massively help how you feel. If anything, it will certainly reduce that stiffness and sorenesss we all feel after being stuck in one spot for too long.
All the best