Sunday, 1 April 2018
Back and chest self care
This is a broad muscle that connects the pelvis to the ribs and covers the lower portion of the back. Quadratus Lumborum attaches from the top of the pelvis and along the twelfth ribs. This muscle is responsible for several actions including spine stabilization. When this muscle is contracted on one side it is responsible for same- side lateral flexion (side bending) and if both sides contract then Quadratus Lumborum will help with spinal extension.
This muscle is commonly associated with low back pain and is often impacted when people sit for prolonged periods of time. Weakness through the core and low back muscles, as well as extended shortening, can cause continued contraction in the muscle leading to spasm, tension, adhesions, and muscle fatigue. Poor posture will exacerbate the tension along the Quadratus Lumborum.
To stretch Quadratus Lumborum, we must bring the muscle to a place of length and do the opposite of its function. There are several stretches that will address this muscle. When stretching begin seated and lean to one side. Bring your arm over your head to help open fully through one side of the ribs. Keep the shoulders square. One side the Quadratus Lumborum will compress while the other expands. Ensure that you take steady, deep breaths here as this muscle assists with expiration. These stretches should induce a stretch through one side the low back. Once you find the line of pull, hold the stretch for 30 seconds before releasing.
When stretching both sides congruently, begin seated and twist to one side. Turn your shoulders, chest and belly button to one side so as to feel an opening through both sides of the lower back and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat this facing the other directions as well. Ensure that you take steady, deep breaths here as this muscle assists with expiration.
2. Latissimus Dorsi
This is a large broad muscle that connects the back of the arm to the lower spine and top of the pelvis. This superficial muscle of the back makes up the largest muscle of the upper body. This muscle is responsible for extension, internal rotation, and adduction of the shoulder joint while also facilitating extension of the spine and side bending. This muscle assists in forced exhalation as well as passively assisting with inspiration. Injuries to Latissimus Dorsi are uncommon, however tension in this muscle is commonly associated with causes of chronic low back or shoulder pain.
To stretch Latissimus Dorsi we must bring the muscle to a place of length and do the opposite of its function. When stretching one side at a time begin seated and lean to one side. Bring your arm over your head to help open fully through one side of the bodies ribs. From the side bending posture square your shoulders over your knee, allow the chin to tuck in and feel the back round. You will feel a line of pull develop from the back of the arm through the side back body all the way to the low back. Tuck the chin in and allow the back to round. Ensure to take steady, deep breaths here as this muscle assists with breathing. These stretches should induce a stretch through one side the low back. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.
3. Lumbar Spine Erectors
This is the lower body portion of a group of spine stabilizing muscles that connect the pelvis to the vertebra of the thoracic and cervical spine. The Erectors as a group originate at the top of the pelvis and extend vertically through the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical regions on either side of the spine. This muscle group is made of three smaller muscles that function together to extend the spinal column and passively provide stabilization for the spine.
This muscle group is commonly associated with low back pain and is often impacted when people sit for prolonged periods of time. Weakness through the core and low back muscles can cause continued contraction in the muscle leading to spasm and trigger points. Excessive shortening of the lumbar portion of this muscle is common and results in increased postural and muscle imbalances throughout the pelvis and trunk. Trigger point or muscle knots will send referral pain along the spine. Typically tension and pain in the back will occur with forward bending exercises.
When stretching both sides of the lumbar Erectors congruently, begin by laying on your back. Pull your knees towards your chest to facilitate a rounding through your lower spine. Allow your arms to reach for your shins and and hold for 30 seconds. Ensure you take steady, deep breaths here as this muscle assists with expiration.
Trigger point balls are helpful for manual release. To use a trigger point ball between you and the floor or wall, place the yoga tune up ball along either side of the lower portion of your spine. You can roll gently up and down along the affected muscle with a comfortable depth.
4. Cervical Spine Erectors
This is the upper body portion of a group of spine stabilizing muscles that connects the pelvis to the vertebra of the thoracic and cervical spine. The Erectors as a group originate at the top of the pelvis and extends vertically through the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical regions on either side of the spine. This muscle group is made of three smaller muscles that function together to extend the spinal column and passively provide stabilization for the spine.
Common dysfunctions of the upper portion of the Erectors includes excessive lengthening and weakness from sustained slouching seated posture. This muscle imbalance increases risk of tears and injury in the muscles of the shoulder and rotator cuff.
When stretching both sides of the cervical Erectors congruently, begin seated. Tuck your chin in towards your chest and begin to flex your neck forward to facilitate a rounding through your cervical spine. If you do not feel a gentle pull up the back of the neck allow your arms to reach for the back of your head and gently rest there (without pulling) then hold for 30 seconds.
Trigger point balls and bouncy balls are helpful for manual release. Place the ball in your hand and gently roll it along either side of your spine at the back of your neck. You can roll gently up and down along the affected muscle with a comfortable depth.
5. Pectoralis (Major and Minor)
The pectorals are a group of two muscles which make up the chest portion of the torso. Pectoralis major is the larger and more superficial chest muscle. Pectoralis major runs from the 7th rib, along the surface of the sternum (breastbone) to the clavicle and attaches at the front of the shoulder joint. This muscle has several actions and is responsible for moving the shoulder joint forwards into flexion, for helping to abduct the arm, and to internally rotate the arm. Pectoralis minor is the smaller and deeper chest muscle it runs from the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs and attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula (shoulder blade). This smaller muscle is responsible for depressing the shoulder and assisting to keep the scapula on the trunk.
Typical dysfunction seen in the pecs comes from poor posture which contributes to and over shortening of these muscles. Prolonged seated postures encourage and rounding through the back that causes the muscles of the chest to shorten as the shoulders round forwards. This shortening causes contractures, spasms and trigger points. Athletes in contact sports or weight training may subject themselves to strains of Pectoralis major if too much weight is borne too quickly or if a traumatic impact occurs locally.
There are several ways to stretch the pecs. Begin this stretch addressing the pectoral muscles begin by laying your arm and chest along the wall. Slowly begin to peel your chest away from the wall and begin to square your shoulders. This will bring a stretch through the front of the chest and shoulder along pectoral muscles on the arm that is on the wall, hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
The Pectoral muscles cover a great deal of upper portion of the trunk. To ensure you stretch all parts of the muscle, it is suggested that you stretch with your arms at several angles. The stretch should be performed with the arms at 110 degrees, 90 degrees, and 70 degrees. In each posture, the arm is secured on a door frame with the shoulders squared. Begin to slowly lean forward to increase the stretch through the same side of the chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds before repeating on the other side.
Trigger point release for Pecs:
Trigger point balls are helpful for manual release. Come into a position of stretch for the Pectorals and place the ball between your chest and the wall, gently leaning into the ball. You may stay stationary or you may choose to gently roll the ball from in front of the armpit forwards over the front portions of the ribs.
6. The Diaphragm
The Diaphragm muscle primarily assists us with the actions of breathing and lays across the inside of our thoracic cage. This muscle is a dome shape that runs along the inside of the rib cage above the abdomen. When this muscle is functioning it creates a vacuum effect that supports both inhalation upon contraction and exhalation when relaxed.
Due to poor posture and prolonged sitting we often see muscle imbalances and tension in the diaphragm. Those who have an inactive lifestyle or a great deal of stress may impact the use of the diaphragm. To learn more about the Diaphragm and how to support its best function check out our blog post on belly breathing.
While stretching is generally safe for everyone, it is best to talk to your doctor or medical health professional before undertaking a new exercise routine. This is especially true if you have any pre-existing conditions, injuries, or particular concerns. If you have questions about anything mentioned in this blog or for booking contact email Megan directly by e-mail: email@example.com
Megan Prenty RMT, YT
Wanting more resources like this one? Be sure to check out the rest of the series - the Lower leg , Thigh self care and the Glute and Hip self-care. Be sure to follow The Coach House on Facebook and Instagram to keep in touch and get notifications of new blog posts.
Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for general educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.