Up to 80 percent of adults experience back and neck pain,” says Kristin Somerville, DPT, a rehabilitation specialist at the University of North Carolina Health. “Problems arise from spending prolonged time in any one posture, which places excessive force on muscles and joints.” In effect, spending hours hunched over a steering wheel, computer, or workbench exerts the same pressure as hours lugging a heavy box.
Fortunately, targeted movements can strengthen muscles to eliminate pain. “This type of regimen improves the postural stability, so you won’t fatigue as quickly,” explains Somerville. To get the benefits, follow Marissa Alperin’s lead and try these moves twice a week.
1. Open and Close
This move strengthens the rhomboids and trapezius muscles to relieve back pain.
To do: Stand with your back against the wall, knees bent. With your elbows bent at right angles, raise your arms in line with your shoulders. Close your arms, then reopen, squeezing your shoulder blades together. That’s one rep; do 10 total.
2. Cat Cow
This motion loosens the muscles around the neck and upper back to release tension.
To do: Start on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders. Drop your belly, lifting your chest toward the ceiling and drawing your shoulders back. Then draw your belly toward your back, arching your back and releasing your head toward the floor. That’s one rep; do 10 total.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.