Exercises to Strengthen the Back, Neck and Shoulder Areas

Exercises to Strengthen the Back, Neck and Shoulder Areas

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Toning the back, shoulders and neck encourages better posture.

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Toning the muscles of neck, shoulders and back often requires targeted exercises, as popular cardiovascular workouts such as running, walking and cycling do little to strengthen these areas. Exercising the upper body does more than help create a muscular physique. According to Harvard Medical School, exercise may be able to help relieve chronic pain in neck, back and shoulders.

Touch and Go

Performing the plank position with shoulder touch is an excellent way to challenge the shoulders while also toning the abdominals, which are vital supporters of the back. Start in plank position, or the top of a pushup, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your feet apart slightly wider than hip width. Your body should form a smooth line, with no sagging in your lower back. Keeping your core tight, bring your left hand up and touch your right shoulder, return your left hand to the floor and touch your left shoulder with your right hand. Repeat 20 times.

Do the Dolphin

With yoga's Dolphin Pose, you will feel the burn in your entire upper back. Start on all fours, with your knees below your hips and your forearms flat on the floor, shoulders above your elbows. Bring your palms together tightly, lift your knees up from the floor, and gradually straighten your legs, pushing your weight back toward your feet and pressing your shoulders down away from your ears. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds, and then lower back to your knees and release your hands.

Try Tucks

To gently strengthen the neck, try a series of chin tucks. When doing the exercise for the first time, Spine-Health recommends standing next to a door frame. Press your spine against the frame and tuck your chin down, gradually moving your upper back, neck and head back until your head touches the door frame. Hold for five seconds, and repeat 10 times. Spine-Health suggests repeating the exercise as many as five to seven times a day. Once you are familiar with the motion, you can do it without a doorway, even while seated in a car or at your desk.

Praise T Raise

Strengthen the muscles of the upper back by grabbing a pair of 2- to 3-pound dumbbells and doing T raises. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, a dumbbell in each hand. Bend your knees slightly, move your hips back and lower your upper body so it is parallel to the floor. Start with your arms straight, palms facing each other, and weights gently pressed together. Raise your arms out to the side -- making a "T" -- lift the weights up to shoulder height, and then lower your arms back down. "Shape" magazine recommends repeating the exercise 15 times.


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