upper back

Photo: Courtesy of Mimi Martel

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The Body Part You Abuse Even More When You Stand
The hot spot: Upper back

The problem: We're all trying to decrease the amount of time we spend in our seats. But few desks are optimally configured for standing while working with the top of the screen at or below eye level, leaving many standers hunched over. "For every inch your head inclines forward, you add 10 pounds of weight for your body to carry," says Jill Miller, ERYT, a fitness therapy expert and creator of the Yoga Tune Up program. "Your spine becomes like a fishing rod with a giant tuna hooked at the end of the line—but that tuna is your head," Miller says.

The potential pain: Tightness and aches that start at the back of the neck and run down to the middle of the back or up into the head (turning into a tension headache).

The pre-hab: Miller says that this Thoracic Rolling Pin exercise is one of the most requested moves from students in the Rx Series at Equinox gyms, a recovery and performance-boosting class she helped develop. Take two old tennis balls that have had most of the stiffness whacked out of them (or Miller's Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls) and place them at the top of your shoulder blades as you lie on your back. Interlace your hands behind your head and gently pull your chin toward your chest. Raise your pelvis off the floor so that your upper back is resting into the balls. Inch the balls slowly up and down the spine (if they don't move easily, gently lean from side-to-side as you roll). Do this for two minutes, breathing into the balls as you roll. To loosen up your fascia, you need 90 seconds of constant pressure, Miller says.

*Those with serious pain or injuries should consult an actual PT who is trained and credentialed.