Wellness Articles

Upper Body Stretches

Dr. Serne performing wall angel for back stretching

Here are my three FAVOURITE stretches for the upper body. Although they are generic, they should not be performed with out speaking to your health care provider first. Please DO NOT attempt these stretches if you have shoulder, neck, or upper back pain that has not been diagnosed!

Wall Angels

This is a great stretch and strengthen exercise as it stretches your anterior shoulder and pectoralis muscle, but it also helps strengthen rear deltoids and rhomboids. This is vital for proper joint mobility and spine alignment.

Ensure that when you are doing this stretch, your feet are not right against the wall as this does not allow your back and buttocks to rest flat against the wall (you do not want your back to arch, but rather keep its natural curvature.) I stand about a foot away and then lean back, with my knees slightly flexed.

Once you’re in this position, if you want to challenge yourself further, slide your arms up against the wall to the end up straight overhead. Always keep your wrists and elbows firmly against the wall throughout the entire movement.

Eagle Pose

Dr. Serne demonstrating upper back stretch

I am only offering the arm component of this yoga pose but do recognize their is a leg componenet to make it a true “Eagle pose- Garudasana”

Open your palms. Cross your left arm to your right. Raise your right arm with your hand stretching towards the ceiling. Bring your palms together as close as possible, depending on your flexibility. Your fingers should be pointing upwards. Make sure you don’t let the shoulders migrate up. To increase the depth of the pose, slowly raise your elbows towards the sky- you should feel it in the posterior aspect of the shoulder, tricep, and across your upper back.

Yoga Mudra

mid back stretch demonstrated by Dr. Serne

This is a great stretch for the anterior shoulder, bicep, pectoralis, and back. Once seated on your heels, exhale, place your arms behind your back, and interlace the fingers together. Draw the shoulders away from the ears and squeeze the shoulder blades together to press out through the sternum. Inhale and arch the chest up towards the ceiling. Keep the chest open as you exhale and hinge at the hips, lowering the forehead down to the floor (optional). Lift the arms up as high as you can keeping the palms press together if possible.

The above stretches can be modified to your individual needs, so please ensure that speak to your health care provider prior to attempting any of them.

Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic

*If you have an injury, or have never attempted to perform these stretches before, please consult with your health care provider. Vitality Clinic and Dr. Crysta Serné assumes no responsibility.

Related Articles:
Care of Head, Neck and Upper Back
Stretches for Nursing Moms (or anyone else with stiff upper Back)
Posture at Work
Correcting Faulty Posture

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