The rhomboid muscles of the upper back tend to be long and loose, lacking in the tension needed to keep the shoulder blades in their proper position. I use a number of specific exercises to try and isolate the rhomboids in an attempt to bring tone to an elusive muscle. This back stretch is an excellent one.
A while back I posted a video of forearm plank (which includes star turns by my children), an amazing pose for building core strength and working on the rhomboids. While this is a great pose to work on, the exercise in the picture above is a good place to begin. It isn’t an easy pose, it is just easier to access and isolate the rhomboids.
This back stretch is a variation on the yoga pose called shalabasana.
Back Stretch on the Belly
- Lie on your stomach with the legs together. Interlace your fingers behind your head and lengthen the back of your neck up into your fingers softening the throat. If your shoulders are tight you can separate the fingertips to touch instead of interlace.
- Lift your elbows off of the floor trying to bring them to the height of your shoulders or higher.
- Draw the belly in and lift your trunk up off the floor, keeping your legs down. The head neck and chest want to move in one piece. The gaze should be straight down or an inch or two in front of you.
- Make sure the spinal muscles are lengthening, not shortening, when the trunk lifts up.
- Try not to let the elbows lower as the trunk rises.
- Lengthen the back of the neck towards the index fingers and imagine pulling the bottom tips of the shoulder blades towards the spine.
- Hold for ten breaths or 30 seconds if you can. Try to maintain the height of the elbows as you draw the shoulder blades towards each other.
- This back stretch should lenghthen the muscles of the lower back, not shorten them.