Schroeder-Piano (Copy)One important factor in beating neck pain is to strengthen and stabilize weak areas such as the upper back and shoulders. Since we spend so much time in activities which have us flexing our upper torsos (think Schroeder playing the piano), it is no surprise that the upper back muscles get weak or inactive as a result. Strengthening this region, then, is of the utmost importance. My favorite exercise to carry out this task is the chest raise—simple and effective…no bells, whistles, benches, cables, kettlebells or five-finger shoes needed. Watch the video below to see how simple the chest raise is to do; but don’t mistake its simplicity for easy—this exercise is tough, especially if your upper back extensors are deconditioned.

People will often ask me if they should do this exercise with weight. The answer is NO! Gravity will provide the resistance. Weights will simply have you recruiting muscles you are not attempting to strengthen. If not challenged by this movement, then you may not be deconditioned. This is a rehab exercise, not a gains exercise. Stick to your tried and true for muscle growth. But like any other contraction, muscle tissue is being micro-torn, which will then repair, so giving a minimum of one day rest between sessions is imperative. Drink lots of water too (two liters), always. And get ready for the next stretch: the neck stretch…

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