An Exercise for Your Mid and Upper Back
If you want to get rid of chronic tension headaches, you must correct
poor posture. You do this through retraining your muscles to adapt
to proper posture.
Through stretching and exercise. It’s particularly important to
strengthen your back. Strong back muscles will help hold
up your shoulder girdle so you can pull your shoulders back and
maintain them in that position all day.
It’s very important to remember that in order to keep tension
headaches away, your back, shoulder and chest muscles need to
function in the proper position as long as you’re up. For most of us,
that’s 16-18 hours a day.
Not only do you have to strengthen these muscles, you have to work
on their endurance as well. Obviously, they’re going to need a lot of
endurance to hold you upright all day.
Probably the best exercise for strengthening the muscles of your
mid and upper back is a seated rowing exercise. You can do this
exercise in a number of ways.
If you have a rowing machine, use it. Emphasize the pullback and
really stretch out the shoulders and chest as you pull and squeeze your
shoulder blades together.
If you don’t have access to a rowing machine, a simple, inexpensive
alternative is to get an old inner tube or one of those therapeutic bands
that are available in sporting goods stores (they’re like giant rubber
bands). Or, you can simply get some old tubing, like the inner tube of
an old bicycle tire.
How To Do the Rowing Exercise Properly
Sit on the floor, with your legs out in front of you. Take your
tubing, theraband, or old bicycle tube, hook it over your feet and
duplicate a rowing motion. Pull back, making sure to keep your
shoulders, back and head up, and squeeze your shoulder blades
together as you pull the tubing toward you. This is simply a very
basic rowing exercise.
To keep things simple, do this exercise until the muscles in your
back begin to burn slightly. That burning sensation indicates that
you’ve reached the fatigue point of those muscles. It’s almost the
same burning sensation you feel about midday or late afternoon at
work – the burning sensation that happens right before your tension
headaches kick in.
When your muscles begin to burn, quit and note how long you did
If, for example, you did the exercise for two minutes
before your muscles began to burn, then your goal should be to
increase that time by about 15-20 seconds. Each time you do the
exercise, try to improve your performance by that amount of time.
When you do this exercise, pull back until you come to an upright
position, then pull your arms back as far as you can. Make sure
you’re squeezing your shoulder blades in. Don’t do the exercise
rapidly, but keep up a good pace.
Your goal is the same as it would be for any other weight lifting or
aerobic activity – you want to gradually increase your performance
until you reach your target. That target is to be able to do this for 10
minutes three times a week.