Physiotherapy Diary 2 – Stretching and loosening the Upper body

Six and half years ago, I seemingly pinched my nerve in the gym. Due to this, I could not do any sort of resistance training for the next 5 years. Any force against a resistance would cause severe burning in the area of my neck, trapezius and ear. And going to doctors led to no diagnosis but lead to lots to cash spent on all sorts of tests. That was when I had my first introduction to soft tissue or Fascia therapy with Airrosti and ART (Active Release). If any of you have any sort of physiological pain, my first recommendation would be either of these therapies.

My issue has been diagnosed as hardening of the soft tissue in the area of the SCMS, Scalenes, Trapezius and levator Scapulare. This can be fixed by a combination of extensive stretching, foam rolling and correct exercise methodology. The following are specifically intended to fix this condition. But a general practitioner of the Physical culture will also find the exercises useful.

1. Foam Roll the lower back, upper back, both your sides and any place in the upper body where there is muscle. You need not foam roll the chest.

2. If there is any part where foam rolling hurts and there is muscle there, just sit on that part till the pain goes. I see where I have been doing things wrong by just doing a fixed number of rolls per body part. Just sit on that part till the pain lessens or goes away. That is exactly the way that the soft tissue/fascia is released.

3. With the baseball on the ground, lie down such that your levator scapulare is resting on the baseball. Stay there till the pain lessens or the fascia is released. This video is an indication. it is just that they are doing it against a wall while you will do it against the ground

4. Use the baseball for the scalenes this time. With the ball against a pillar, press your scalenes against it. The video below will tell you where the scalenes are, but you do not have someone else to release it for you. You will have to release it yourself with a baseball and a pillar.

5. Do neck stretches for stretching the scalenes. Rotate the neck 360 and and wherever you feel pain stretch it in that position gently. Maintain the stretch till the pain goes away and then gently increase the stretch. An example is in this video

6. Stretch the Lats. But I could not find a youtube video to demonstrate exactly what was needed. The video below is the closest I could find

But what you need to do is this. Find a pillar which you can grip with your the fingers of your hand. Now the guy in the video is gripping the pillar alright. But he is not gripping it right. You see he is gripping with his left hand. The palm of his left hand is facing the right. What you need to do is twist your had in such a way that the palm of your left hand is facing left. Now grip it and now stretch by falling back with your body. This gives a more intense stretch to your lats. This can be done upto 5 minutes each side


The stretches are over. It is now time to get to some controlled movements.

1. YTWL Shoulder drills: In all these exercises, you mobilize the shoulder blades. You must not engage the trapezius. You must also pull the shoulders away from the ears while doing these. Here is the closest I could come to it

Some differences from the video
a. Clench your fingers but keep the thumb extended
b. No need to get your face off the ground
c. He extends his hands forward (Y). Then on the sides (T).
d. They way you do the W will be different. His hands form an acute angle. You must form a right angle with your hands. His upper arm forms an acute angle with his body. Your upper arm also must form a right angle with the body.
e. The way we do the L is also different. Your arm must be extended. Another example is given here. These exercises are also called Flutters

This one infact comes pretty close

2. Trap mobility drill: Here too I could not find a Youtube video that showed this exactly. So I will have to improvise. Here the traps are activated and the hands are moved under this condition. First, remember Gomukhasana?
You don’t want to do the whole asana. I just have it for illustrative purposes. Look at the lower hand. All I want you to do is move one hand behind the back as is done with the lower hand in that asana. With the fingers of that hand, feel the trap bone. Now clench or squeeze the trap. The trap bone should become prominent. Now take a look at this video

There are some differences from this
a. He is using both hands. You will use only one hand. Which hand? The one that is not behind your back ofcourse
b. He is placing the hands against the wall. You will not do so
c. You will now move the hands up and down as he does but while keeping the trap engaged. Your range of motion is determined by your ability to keep your trap engaged
d. The hand behind your back is the one that feels the trap bone to see if the trap is really engaged
e. Keep the shoulders away from the ear

3. Rotator Cuff mobility drill: Here is a video that comes really close. Just lose the dumbell


About masculineffort

A Man should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, seduce a woman, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
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