These are our Rhomboid muscles - tucked under our shoulder blades - out of sight and out of mind. We have large ones and smaller ones which both work to keep the shoulders stable and the shoulder blades flat against the back and under the shoulder girdle.
The Rhomboid muscles are arrow shaped (hence the name) and have to work very hard to keep the shoulders in place. They are under a lot of strain because of the tension of the muscles in the chest and front of the shoulders.
The only sign that the Rhomboids have got long and floppy is when the shoulder blades start standing out against the back, the back and shoulders becomes curved around the chest. Lower back pain is almost inevitable.
This can happen to people who have sedentary occupations hunched over a computer or spend too much using hand held mobile and tablets. Weight lifters and body builders who do too much chest work, neglecting to work their back and shoulder muscles are vulnerable because of tight chest muscles pulling the shoulders around the chest. Again lower back injury is a risk because of additional pressure on the back because of weak
So what can we do to get those Rhomboids short and tight again to regain good posture and an open chest?
The Pilates exercise called the Rocker is a great workout opening out the chest, working the back muscles and flattening the shoulder blades by working the muscles in the back.
Lie on your front on a soft surface with your head on the floor, hands down by your side and legs hip distance apart. Reach around and grab your ankles and pull them towards your bottom and you inhale.
Exhale as you lift your head and gradually lift up your head until you feel your muscles working in your back.
You may not be able to go far in the beginning but, with persistence, it does get easier!
If you have neck, back or shoulder problems just start by bringing your feet to your bottom with your head on a mat and your hands around your ankles. Don't forget to squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Alternatively, you can try using a Dynaband as alternative. Stand with your feet hip distance apart and plant your feet.
Take the band and hold it with your fists up in line with your shoulders in front of you. Inhale as you lift the band over your hand, keeping your arms straight. Lift the band over you head and pause at the top drop your shoulders. Keep squeezing your shoulder blades together and, with straight arms take the band down your back to your bottom. Then exhale.
Inhale again as you take the band over the top of your head, pause at the top to drop your shoulders. Bring the band towards your stomach and exhale as you bring your fists to your hips. When you take the band up, keep your hand shoulder width apart and remember to squeeze your back and shoulder muscles. When you take the band down, remember to keep your shoulders down, head up with long neck.
Remember to keep your hips under your ribs, chin up and shoulders down.
Do these two exercises every day and you will notice a big difference.