Strengthen The Back Of Your Shoulders

posture upper body Nov 29, 2015

We always seem to be in this rounded or hunched position all day and sometimes it seems we live our lives this way. It is really important to strengthen the muscles in the backs of our shoulders. If our muscles aren’t working for us, a simple reminder to sit up straight just won’t be enough! However, if the muscles are strong, they do the work to pull us back and open. The TheraBand is great for this as it opens up the body for us, so we don't have to think about it anymore! I love this feeling! We all want to think about other things.... beautiful things! We want the body to work for us, not the other way around.

Let the journey to strong shoulders begin!

"Ideally, our muscles should obey our will. Reasonably, our will should not be dominated by the reflex actions of our muscles." - Joseph Pilates

Grab your Thera-Band.

I use a Franklin Band, which is extremely long. You don't need your band to be this long; it's fine if it's half the length.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Press your upper arms tightly against the sides of your ribcage. Try to imagine you had a piece of paper between the biceps and the ribcage, and you didn't want me to be able to pull it out. It is very important that you are really squeezing here.
  • Bend your elbows to right angles with your palms facing up toward the ceiling. Hold the band between each thumb and index finger and remember to keep the upper arms pressing against your sides. INHALE to prepare.
  • On the EXHALE, pull your hands wide apart, moving slowly. Make sure your elbows are not moving away from the body! Keep those upper arms against your chest and just rotate from your elbows.
  • On the INHALE, slowly release the forearms back to center, until they are parallel to each other. Exhale to pull out again. Continue like this.

It’s important that you don't squeeze your shoulder blades together and push your chest forward in order to pull your hands apart. Keep the front of the ribs down and together, then move your hands apart. It is just your hands moving as your upper arms rotate in their sockets.

Possible Weak Spots and Modifications

If this either ...

  • hurts your shoulders or elbows, or
  • you cannot keep your upper arms connected with the ribcage, or
  • you're squeezing the shoulder blades together to perform the movement

This is a sign that your rotator cuff is weak and you need to modify. Just give yourself more band! Start with your hands farther apart so you don't require that much strength to perform the movement correctly. If you don't feel anything at all, bring your hands closer together to start. This way you'll have more resistance.

But please remember, more resistance does not equal better results.

When You Are Ready For More

  • Bring the band down in front of you and hold it a little more than hip-width apart.
  • Turn your hands so the palms face back.
  • On the INHALE lift your arms up to the sky and keeping your elbows straight.
  • On the EXHALATION pull the band apart and lower it down behind you slowly and with control. Don't bend your elbows.
  • Continue by inhaling to lift the arms up overhead and exhaling to pull the band down to you. Keep the elbows straight! If you can’t keep your arms straight, then give yourself more band so that it's not quite as hard.
Your form is always more important than a lot of resistance.

Notice if you are rolling over one shoulder before the other one. It's another common mistake. Instead, roll both shoulders back at the same time.

Reaching Back

  • Hold the band behind you, as you had it in the previous exercise only rotate your palms around so they are now facing behind you/away from you.
  • Loop the band around each hand and make sure your hands are shoulder width apart.
  • Reach your fingers down and draw your ribs down and in.
  • Then reach your arms and fingers backward, towards the back of your mat or where the wall meets the floor behind you.
  • Exhale and release the arms back toward the body.
  • Repeat.
  • With the arms down, drop the band and relax your shoulders.


Reaching instead of lifting

Don't just think of lifting the arms, because that causes the shoulders to lift up. We don't want that. Think more about reaching away from you.

You might not be able to get your arms very far back and that's ok! Just be sure that you're using your core to keep the chest down and there's no pushing the chest forward. Your ribs go down as your arms go up.

How are you and your upper back feeling? The muscles are now doing all the work of opening the back and shoulders. Do you feel taller? Do you feel you are having to put less effort into standing tall because your muscles are doing this for you?

I hope you enjoyed this! Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a joy-filled day!

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