1. Lat Stretch on Stability Ball
Flexibility in the latissimus dorsi muscle is important for good posture. When this muscle is tight it pulls the shoulders forward, separates the shoulder blades, and contributes to “rounded shoulders.” This stretch helps to lengthen the muscle.
- Sit up with your knees and toes on the floor and head facing forward. Place both hands on top of the stability ball with your palms up.
- Slowly roll the ball away from you as you move your upper body into a flat back position. Once you feel a slight tension, hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and return to the start position.
Modification: Support the flat back position with one hand on the ground directly under the shoulder and stretch the opposite arm before switching.
2. Kneeling One-Arm Reach on Stability Ball
Limited range of motion above the head is often due to tight upper back muscles. Releasing the tension in these muscles can improve the ability to perform activities that require reaching above the head. Whether you’re serving a tennis ball or reaching for a high shelf, this is an excellent stretch to improve mobility.
- From the kneeling position, rotate the hips back to your heels and place your right hand on top of the stability ball in front of you.
- Raise your hips and extend your right arm over the ball until your torso is parallel to the floor and your right arm is fully extended. Feel the stretch along your right side and then repeat with the left arm.
Tip: For an alternative to kneeling, stand with the stability ball against the wall from shoulder height to overhead. A step closer to the wall as your arm reaches higher.
3. Kneeling Rotation
It’s easy to forget how often we depend upon back rotation in daily activities, such as lifting a bag of groceries or throwing a ball. This series of movement isolates the upper back and strengthens the mid-torso and back muscles.
- Begin on your hands and knees with your back level and abdomen tight. Place your right hand behind your head with your elbow pointing straight out.
- Rotate your torso inward, keeping your hand on your head and drawing your right elbow toward your left hand. Turn as far as possible until you feel a complete stretch.
- To complete the movement, rotate your torso upward as far as possible until you feel the stretch along your left side. Repeat this sequence 3 to 5 times and switch to the left side.
Tip: Keep your head and neck in line with your back and open your chest