Fast Fitness - Fourth Group Functional Training Exercise, Functional Upper Back Stretch
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Fast Fitness - Fourth Group Functional Training Exercise, Functional Upper Back Stretch

Here is Fast Friday Fitness from the 2009 Black Belt Hall of Fame. I am here teaching and learning.

In my "Stretching Smarter" workshop here, I teach healthier ways to move and stretch for daily life and sports. One is the fourth Functional Fitness Training (Bookspan Basics). It retrains how you look and reach upward, to reduce neck and shoulder compression and give a built-in stretch for the upper back:

  1. Assemble your group (or yourself) and tell them that when they look upward, to feel the range of motion more from their upper back than neck. Have them feel, notice, and visualize where is their upper back - one way to do this is to watch a person in line ahead of them.
  2. Remind the group that the neck is not a Pez dispenser - the idea is not to pinch the neck back (photo below with yellow hat), but to "unround" and lift upward more from the upper body.

photo shows unhealthful neck compression - pinching back and jutting chin, creating a postural spondylolisthesis.
3. Have everyone look upward by straightening the upper back and by lifting more in the chest (drawing, upper bike rider on water bottle). Repeat while reaching upward with both hands. Make sure not to return to pinching backward at the neck, jutting the chin forward (photo above), or leaning the upper body backward. Get the reach from the shoulders.

Use conscious control to prevent pinching your neck back every time you look and reach upward.

Each new Functional Training (or Bookspan Basic) shows how to teach your groups (or self) how to prevent common musculoskeletal problems during the team season or operational theater. Trainers, Drill Instructors, readers, send in your stories of how you use these in your program.

Good body mechanics are a powerful performance enhancing aid.

Book to Learn Functional Stretching:

More Group Functional Fitness Trainings (FFTs):

Related Fitness Fixer:

Lucky Friday the 13 Fitness Fixer (Friday the 13th is a superstitious day for some Americans):


Read success stories of these methods and send your own.
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Craning Neck Photo by exceedcharge
Water bottle reminder from cafepress
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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.