The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Upper Body Built in Functional Fitness

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Reader Vietanh asks:

"I enjoy the all day exercises using squat and lunge for my daily activities. Thank you for sharing your philosophy.

"However, those exercises are mainly for lower body. I would like to ask if there are good all day exercises for upper body parts i.e., shoulder, neck.

"I found some stretches for shoulder and neck that you introduced.

"Thank you and best regards,
Vietanh"

This is a great question and understanding that fitness is something that you do during real life. In gyms and health centers, even therapy settings where people are going there for the purpose of fixing and increasing function, they sit waiting in terrible unhealthful positioning - photo at right - waiting for a class or activity for health.

I have read fitness books saying the posterior shoulder is "difficult to target." Hold your shoulders straight, rather than letting them slump forward. You will get built in upper body functional exercise. Apply this to exercise, to lifting, sitting, sewing, all you do.

Look at your many hours each day of real life - when you prevent round shoulders with retraction to neutral, you are getting upper back extension exercise. When you sit and bend and lift right instead of rounding forward, you get healthful, functional upper and mid range back extension. When you use neutral spine to walk, run, kick, and jump, by extending at the hip instead of allowing the lower spine to increase in arch passively into hyperlordosis, you get healthful lower back extension and abdominal exercise at the same time. It is the abdominal muscles that will flex you forward to straight, rather than overarched. They only do this when you deliberately use them. Strengthening alone does not create movement to healthful position. Healthful positioning strengthens and gives exercise. Look at the photo above again and see that how you really live, not a gym, is your exercise and health.

Apply upper body muscle use for function in daily life:

Prevent Neck Pain and Get Upper Back Exercise Carrying Backpacks
Upper Back Exercise and Neck Pain Prevention Too
Common Exercises Teach Upper Back and Neck Pain
Fast Fitness - Prevent Back Pain When Rowing
Overhead Lifting, Reaching, and Throwing - More Part I
Fast Fitness - Built in Upper Body and Core Exercise Carrying Children


Use arm and hand muscles instead of compressing wrist joints:

Fast Fitness - Prevent Wrist Pain During Pushups and Cooking
Forearm, Upper Body and Hand Exercise



Have daily active upper body fun:

Fast Fitness - Make Your Own Device to Strengthen Arms, Upper Body, Balance, and Core Stability
Fast Fitness - Easy Handstand for Balance, Upper Body Strength -The Movie
Pushups and rows at the same time - Strengthen Many Places at Once
Handstand and rows at the same time - Fast Fitness - Handstand Rows


Using upper back muscles to prevent rounding forward in round shoulders gives continuous built in exercise. This is not forcing, just mobile, comfortable muscle use. How are you sitting while reading this?

There is more to this excellent question. Will come in future posts.

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Photo by djwhelan
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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

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

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