Upper Spine Stiffness - A Barrier to Tall Posture

One reader replied saying she was consciously holding her body taller, but found it difficult and uncomfortable due to her stiff upper spine. This was thwarting her best efforts to engage her postural muscles. Desk bound postures keep the neck and upper back in a flexed posture and without specific stretching, the inter-vertebral joint range of extension stiffens.

 Some suggestions to improve upper spine extension:

  • Grab a small diameter ‘pool noodle’ (available from K Mart) and cut a 30 cm long piece. Put this noodle piece on the floor and lie down on your back so the noodle runs across your back just below your shoulder blades.  Bend you knees, slightly lift your tail and then slowly roll so the noodle travels from the middle of the back up to the base of the neck and back again.  Repeat this a few times.
  • Alternatively, lie across the noodle, breathe and relax for 30 seconds before moving up or down slightly to another vertebrae. This is performing your own joint mobilization. If you are particularly sensitive to the pressure, start this exercise on the bed with a pillow, progress to a carpeted floor as your spine becomes more tolerant.
  • Do not use the pool noodle if the spine is osteoporotic: visit a physiotherapist for a professional assessment, treatment and personalized home program.
  • Visit a skilled masseuse for soft tissue mobilization to promote freer movement of rib/ vertebral joints and release muscle and connective tissue tightness.
  • Practice yoga stretches to slowly improve the range of spinal extension and rotation. Some basic stretches are included below to make a start. Always start stretching slowly, breathe in and out slowly and gradually add more stretch as muscles relax. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, relax and repeat.