Stop Getting So Good At Being Still

“Everything you are doing right now, your nervous system is getting better at doing it.” – Dr. Andreo Spina

I’m often asked, “What exercise should I do for ___________”. That blank has been filled in by everything from, “upper back tightness”, to “post surgical reconstruction of the labrum and rotator cuff”.  If I ever find the answer to those questions, you’ll never hear from me again because I’ll be the most in demand healthcare provider in the world!

Until then, my response to that question will remain, “It depends”.  There was a unique set of circumstances, events, and environments which lead to your current condition, so any discomfort you are feeling right now is a culmination of your nervous system’s attempt to move to the best of its ability in that environment.  Because the brain and nervous system are so malleable, it will get really good at the demands you put on it, for better or for worse.

Some examples at this point will probably be better suited than more philosophical talk.

Let’s take “Upper Back tension” as an example. Most people with stiffness in their neck and midback have a few things in common. First they usually have a posture with their head forward of their shoulders, they breathe very shallow using muscles of their upper chest, and they often sit for hours at a time working with their arms out in front of them. This tells the nervous system a few things.

1)     "I’m surviving just fine using my neck and chest muscles to breathe, so you can use my diaphragm to stabilize my spine." (Result: you begin holding your breath while under load)

2)     "I need to be really good at having my arms in front of me, so don’t worry about keeping shoulder extension available." (Result: the chest and front of shoulder become rounded forward and impingement issues in the shoulder start.)

3)     "I need extra support to hold my head up because I need to have my head forward." (Result: the upper traps lock down to provide support and the “Core of the Neck” {aka the deep neck flexors} become weak and atrophy.)

4)     "The chair I’m sitting in supports my posture, so I don’t need as much core tension to hold my spine in place." (Result: through poor diaphragm activation, and hours of no core musculature activation, the support stabilizing system of the spine becomes dormant. Now large muscles in the back and neck turn on to add that stabilization)

So…what exercise will fix this, you ask? Maybe this is the wrong question. 

Maybe we should be asking; how can I change my environment so my body will respond better to exercise?  It may take time, but developing good habits to offset much of this starved movement environment will allow for more freedom of range of motion, at which point, it's up to you to move those joints and muscles through these wide ranges so they remain healthy.

Each roadmap to being pain free and comfortable is unique, much like the circumstances which put someone in pain, but here are some videos to provide you some guidance and at least give you a few tools to start working with. START TODAY!

For a daily movement snack while sitting at your desk, try the Bruegger's exercise.

Need a 5 min routine that hits most of the joints and keeps them health and mobile? Try this sequence!

For more information on treatment or online coaching for sustainable exercise and pain relief, visit or call the office 931-321-1414 to schedule your FREE consultation with Dr. Dunaway.