The belt stretch is an excellent exercise for eliminating pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back as well as increasing range of motion in those same areas. We use our arms all day long for our functional activities.
Activities such as:
*Reaching up into higher cabinets
*Reaching behind your back to zip up a zipper
*Washing and brushing hair
are activities that most of us do every day. They are also activities that require enough mobility of the shoulder blades and upper spine in order to complete them without pain.
If the upper back and shoulder blade muscles are too tight, we tend to rely more on the small muscles on top of the shoulders. This will cause these muscles to over work creating increased neck tightness, pinching and pain in the shoulders which can lead to neck pain, headaches, frozen shoulders and rotator cuff injuries.
The following video illustrates how to use the belt for increasing range of motion in the neck, shoulders and upper spine. Some of the main points to follow are:
*Understand the importance of pulling the shoulder blades down and in as you move your arms up.
*Stop where you feel pain or resistance to movement and wait for the tissue to soften. This is an excellent myofascial stretching tool. It takes a minimum of 90-120 seconds for connective tissue to release. Wait until you feel the tissue soften before you start to move further.
*Listen to your body. Pay attention to where you are feeling the tightness and pulling or pain in your body as your are doing the stretch. This can give you important information that can lead to finding the source of the pain or the activity that you are doing that contributes to that pain pattern.
Jody Hendryx, PT, LMT