Proper posture/alignment supports better balance, and it requires muscle balance between the chest and the back. Consider how many times a day you do something that contracts the chest muscles; things like picking something up, doing dishes, working on the computer, sitting or standing in poor posture. Each of these contractions shorten the muscles in front of the chest and lengthen the muscle in the upper back.

Unless you do something specific to strengthen your upper back muscles (the opposing muscle group), they become weakened and out of balance with the chest muscles, leading to poor posture and back issues. In turn, poor posture is a risk factor for falls.

Consider what you’re currently doing that strengthens your upper back muscles including the number of times per day you pull things toward you. Don’t count your dinner plate! Instead, count things like raking, weeding a garden, or vacuuming. Also consider what you consciously do to stretch your chest muscles to keep them in balance with your back muscles.

The Reach and Squeeze exercise helps to strengthen your upper back muscles to help equalize the muscle strength and flexibility between your opposing muscle groups (chest and back).

*Follow physician advice on exercise

reach and squeeze

Exercise Instructions:

Sit slightly forward in the chair with an upright posture, arms extended, shoulders down (counts 1-2). Slowly pull the elbows back by squeezing the shoulder blades together (3-4). Hold (5-8). Breathe normally! Repeat 4 to 8 times. Use light hand weights or pull against a stretchy band looped around a post or closed in a door to increase difficulty, if desired.

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