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Combat Your Stiff Back with This Move for Better Mobility

Mid-back mobility is critical to exercise performance and avoiding injury, but sitting all day takes a toll. This simple drill from Don Saladino, NASM , the trainer behind the superhero bodies of celebrities like Ryan Reynolds and David Harbour , can help.

For the drill, which focuses on promoting healthy extension through the thoracic or middle region of the spine, grab a PVC or dowel rod with an underhand grip and set up on the floor in childs pose with your elbows on top of a short platform. Tighten your abs and don’t arch your lower back. Saladino uses a pad here, but you could also use a chair, low bench, step, or box.

Then, keeping your elbows just beyond shoulder-width apart, draw your head and upper back down between your elbows and the dowel toward your traps. If you aren’t able to lower the dowel all of the way, that’s ok. Focus on maintaining a comfortable stretch through your middle and upper back and lats. (As an added perk, this move will also improve mobility in the long head of the triceps and the shoulders.)

Resist the urge to try to reach a deeper stretch by bouncing. Every bounce will actually trigger your muscles protective mechanisms and end up limiting your range of motion.

Breathing through the stretch, however, is extremely important. Your breath will help your muscles relax into the position. The key is to do deep breathing for 20 to 30 seconds, Saladino says.

Perform 2 to 3 sets as part of your warmup before upper body lifts, especially any overhead pressing movements, as well as on dedicated mobility or recovery days.

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Want to try out more exercises and workouts from Saladino? Check out his Men’s Health Superhero Shred program , which is designed with the same principles he uses to get his star clients in shape. You can also find Saladino’s program, alongside a ton of other fitness content, on our new All Out Studio streaming app .

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