Upper back and neck pain are common problems that are becoming more prevalent in physical therapy offices. With the increasing use of computers and prolonged sitting habits, it’s almost impossible to get rid of these aches and pains regardless of how active you are at your workspace. The thing is most of your daily activities are done in front of a computer screen while seated. Prolonged sitting doesn’t seem to cause discomfort at first, but over time, gravity takes over and the shoulders begin to round forward, the head juts out, the chest becomes constricted, and the upper back becomes more vulnerable to aches and pains.

A backache is the least of your problems – the result of this static posture can be unpleasant – tight pectorals, shortened neck, rounded shoulders, and weak upper back muscles. This is the point where the smaller muscles that were not originally designed to be ‘postural muscles’ kick in and they work really hard to keep your body in upright position. In addition, exercise can exacerbate the problem and sport is one great approach many people choose to get their exercise. Pain in the upper back and neck are often just a sign that your body muscles are tired of doing a job they weren’t designed to do.

For people with back pain, sports is still a viable option if they pay attention to their back. Following a strict workout routine and playing sports is good for your overall health. It also adds pleasure and a sense of well-being. Almost any sport places a little stress on your spine, so it’s important to keep the muscles and ligaments that support your spine flexible and strong. After all, a healthy spine can help you prevent many sports related injuries. A sport is an ideal strategy to accomplish both stretching and strengthening in a more effective way.

In order to combat potential health issues, you’ll have to work on stretching the tight structures that could prevent you from prolonged sitting with ideal alignment. If you do something to strengthen the upper back without stretching the front of the chest, you’ll just keep falling back on the same misaligned posture. Here are a few sports which when completed with a thorough warm-up, can target the muscles associated with that sport and help you maintain a great posture.

Cycling

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The human lives become more over-scheduled each day, but cycling is a workout that fits in relatively easily into your daily exercise routine. Riding to work for just a couple of times every week not only burns those extra calories but also sets the tone for the day. Upper back and neck pain make it extremely difficult for you to go about your typical work routine. The reason behind this discomfort may vary, but it comes down to how you hold yourself while standing, moving, walking- and most importantly – sitting. It is true upper back and neck pain limit your movements and capabilities to move around. This is where cycling comes in.

Cycling is great for your muscles – it works the glutes, quads, and calves – leaving you with lean muscles from your ankles all the way up to your lower back. Although it doesn’t do much for the muscles around your spine, it works just perfectly for improving your core muscle groups, which further improves your posture, and upper body strength as well, providing you with an all-in-one workout solution. The best part – it keeps your mind occupied while your body does all the hard work. Plus, cycling improves mood, releases stress, and creates a rush of endorphins to your brain.

Golfing

golfing and spine

The first line of defense against a terrible back pain is to bring in some optimal movement activities in the areas directly above and below the lumbar spine – the hips and thoracic spine. A golf swing requires a forceful rotation of your spine, which puts stress on your spinal muscles, joints, ligaments, and discs. With a properly coordinated swing, the shoulder, hip, chest, and the lower spine rotate to share the load of the swing. The spine should be straight and your weight should be distributed evenly on the balls of the feet to maintain a good balance, which eventually lowers the risk of back pain. Bend with your knees when picking up the ball. A perfectly balanced swing may be desirable in terms of reducing stress to the low back and preventing low back pain altogether.

Now that you understand how a bad swing movement can lead to lower back injury, it is easy to see how getting into a neutral spine posture can help stabilize your spinal mechanics. A proper and thorough evaluation of your swing mechanics can be very imperative in order to understand the state of your injury. Plus, golf provides just enough physical activity to keep your muscles engaged. Golf also helps to alleviate stress and considering the pleasure of walking in an open and natural environment, it also places golfers in a refreshed mood, making you happy and relaxed.

Swimming

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You many very well turn to water aerobics which allows you to smooth muscle groups and strong muscles can indeed provide good support to the spine. Swimming can strengthen and ligaments in your spine and legs. Active exercise is the first step to breaking the pain cycle – which begin when you move your body or develop a certain posture in order to avoid feeling the pain – and swimming is one of the best examples of active exercises. Unlike cycling or running, there is a little impact on the spine structures, since the water supports the body. This relieves stress on all joints of your body, easing the painful pressure. Swimming can ease symptoms of chronic pain, especially backache and neck pain.

Your spine and your joints are somehow freed from the burden of your body when in the pool. Moreover, swimming goes easy on the spine and specifically on the spine, and with less gravity affecting the joints, swimming helps the spine and limbs expand. At the same time, it strengthens back and core muscles, taking the stress off the joints. However, not everybody with back pain should jump in a pool – back pain can have a number of potential causes, so it’s advisable to get a proper evaluation and diagnosis of your problems. Many people find that recreational swimming and water-based exercises help ease back pain and there is a lot of research and studies to back that argument.

Almost everyone can benefit from stretching the soft tissues – the muscles and ligaments – in the back, legs, and around the spine. The spinal column and its surrounding muscles and ligaments are all designed to move, and lack of activity in this motion can make back pain worse. Many back pain patients know the feeling of tension in the back. A few physical exercises and these sports can help bring back some suppleness and increase mobility in your muscles. Additionally, many types of conditions greatly benefit from these sports, including arthritis, joint replacements, back pain, and neurological conditions.