Self-confidence shows in the way you hold yourself. And where do you hold yourself? It all starts with your mid-back! Your mid-back plays a vital role in how you hold your body and yourself. Visualizing the lengthening through your spine and the strength that your mid-back carries will ultimately help in the way your self-confidence is seen through the world.
Once you learn how to properly use your mid-back, it can improve the way your neck, back and core feel! Within this episode, I talk about the power that your mid-back has on your body and talk you through some exercises to help you start feeling those connections + firing those muscles!
WATCH THE EPISODE BELOW
Roll Up's | 10:30
Chest Stretch With Exercise Band | 15:33
Pull Down's | 20:13
Erica: I want to dive in and talk about how your mid-back is important for your overall health and wellness of your body. Specifically, as it relates to how your neck and shoulders feel. Instead of taking a prescription to help get you through the pain, there are things that you can do with the alignment of your body that will help improve how it feels.
We spend much of our day sitting whether you are at your desk, relaxing or traveling. With sitting, you are constantly overusing the muscles and the fascia through the front of your body, chest and shoulders as you are looking down a lot. When the head is forward and your shoulders are rounded, it is hard to activate your core effectively. This is a big piece when I am teaching you how to properly activate your deep core because posture matters.
So, I want you to stand like this for a minute and bring awareness to what is happening in your body. Where do you feel the pain and is there any discomfort? Now try to activate your deep core in this position. It’s quite hard, isn’t it?
We have been taught to jam our shoulders back and draw them down, but that is causing your upper traps to work harder than they should. I want to retrain this thought process as your shoulders are an extra appendage of your core. We need to start letting our shoulders relax on the top of your rib cage. Bring your awareness deeper into your body and into your rib cage + mid-back.
When you think of your mid-back, think about your bra line area. This is the area that I want you to be using to hold up your upper spine, neck and head. If you are constantly trying to use your shoulder and neck to hold up your head, you are not serving your body very well as it can be creating a lot of issues in your body. It is adding tension in areas where you don’t need it and the energy isn’t flowing as well through the body making it harder to activate your deep core as this can lead to aches and pains.
We want to say goodbye to all those aches + pains, migraines and headaches. This slight shift might not solve 100% of these problems, and that is where we want to start looking at the foods that we are eating. If you are eating foods that are high in toxins or are inflammatory foods, that can be causing inflammation in the body which can lead to headaches and migraines as well. But right off the bat, if we start to look at our posture that can drastically change the way we feel.
The hard part is that it takes time to create these new habits. The idea that all the sudden you are going to lengthen up and have perfect posture is misleading as it is not going to happen overnight. The first step that you must take is bringing awareness. This is why I recommend writing it down or setting reminders on your phone to allow you to bring your awareness to how you are holding your body.
Because that fascia through our chest is pulling you forward, you need to work on lengthening it upward and it is going to take time. But these baby steps along the way will make huge results for your body.
When you think of our mid-back, you need to let your shoulders remain nice and relaxed as your arms are just hanging out. The first initial thing that everyone wants to do is jam them down into the position that they think they are supposed to go. Initially, it can feel awkward because our upper traps want to constantly pull your shoulders up. Start to focus on this connection from the base of your pelvis all the way through the top of your head and you will start to feel this lifting from your mid-back.
Start to change your reference of what is holding your head up, then all the sudden you can start to work in that area when you do a workout or daily tasks. The more you focus on letting your shoulders and arms relax when you move your body as you are lifting tall through your torso + letting your mid-back support you, your chest will start to open and your shoulders will go where they are supposed to go.
One exercise I want to show is a roll-up. It addresses your mid-back a lot but it is also going to work on your full body. One thing I really like about roll-ups is that you can focus on articulating your spine to start feeling your mid-back. Start with your feet placed underneath your sits bones and relax your shoulders.
The biggest thing that I see when I cue to relax your shoulders is the rolling of the shoulders going up and back. I notice that this creates tension in the neck and is restraining their mobility. It is about retraining and learning how to use the muscles deeper in the mid-back and underneath your scapula, so I don’t want your shoulders to move at all. Start to tuck your chin slowly and start rolling down as far as it feels good for your back.
Let your head hang and shoulders relax. Think about pushing your feet into the ground while lightly pulling up on your hamstrings by using your glutes. I don’t want you falling over as you are supported by your pelvis and legs. Now take a couple of deep breaths into your back and notice if you can get your breath up into that mid-back area. With each breath try to let your head hang a little bit more. If you’re tight in your upper traps, you can tend to want to pull the head out which is creating more tension up underneath the base of your skull. This could be the culprit for a lot of people’s migraines and headaches. Then as you go to roll up, you want to exhale and zip up through the belly to activate it. Instead of letting your shoulder roll up to your head, let them fall and use the mid-back to lift you up. You can also do this exercise seated at your desk or on an exercise ball.
I also like to emphasize standing and using a stand up while you are working, so you must open and expand your chest while using that mid-back. It is also good to make sure that we bring blood flow and stimulate the areas that we want to open up to help encourage us to create optimal posture.
I now want to show a couple moves with an exercise band and the first one I want to show you a nice and easy stretch for the chest. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and bring the band out in front of you with your elbows soft. Pull your arms out a little bit and lift your chest like you are doing a little row. Now you are starting to think about your shoulders drawing lightly towards each other, but not jamming while using your mid-back to lightly open your chest.
With this stimulation that we are now creating in our mid-back, we can start to bring our arms up and over. When you push into the band, you should start to feel opposition from shoulder to shoulder. If you are tight in your chest, you might not be able to lift your arms up very high and that is okay.
Exhale and zip up through the belly, open the chest and press. You will start to feel this outer part of the deltoid and shoulder go down and around underneath your scapula. This is the area that we need to think about when working on our shoulders. Start to visualize your mid-back working.
I am going to talk you through this scapula connection without a band. Lift your arm up and feel as though you are trying to scoop it down lightly towards the ground in front of you. Notice when your neck or traps start to take over and try to get underneath the shoulder blade.
See how high you can take your arm without it wanting to tense up and go into your neck. If you place your other hand underneath your shoulder blade as you bring your other arm up, you will feel how your scapula glides down and around. This band exercise is great to stimulate activation and is simple enough to do at home or while you are traveling.
One more that I want to show you is with the exercise band over a door by doing some easy pull-downs. These are effective because of the opposition that it creates through the body to help stimulate fascia. It is gentle for your mid-back muscles as it helps to open + expand your chest to make you taller and stronger. They are great to do as a warmup before you start your day or breaking it up in between your day if you find yourself sitting a lot.
When you get to that door with your exercise band, or you could use a towel as well, I want you to stand nice + tall with feet hip-width to shoulder-width apart. Push your energy out through your feet into the floor as you are lifting tall. Start getting a little activation through your legs + core.
Keep your arms out in front of you with a slight bend in your elbows. Remember that your focus is lifting that mid-back, so as you exhale I want you to start activating that mid-back while lifting your chest. Make sure you feel the front of your ribs slightly working. Then as you inhale, bring the ribs up over the hips and lightly release your arms, but don’t release your core!
Exhale, zip up the belly, open your chest and feel the back of your shoulders lightly working but mostly into that mid-back, not your low back. Inhale to come back up, ribs up and forward.
You want to visualize that you are creating space between each vertebra of your spine. Something that I am finding when trying to tap into those deeper layers is that less can be more. When you turn your focus inside your body and what you are feeling and how things are working then it is amazing what your body is capable of.
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