I have been in and out of Physical Therapy this year – for my foot and for my back.  I have recently fixed this pain in my mid-back when I run. It used to be terrible after running just a few minutes. Now I can run closer to 10 miles without it bothering me too much.

The wonderful people at Harborview have given me a few shoulder and core strengthening exercises:

Pelvic Neutrals – it’s a lower abs exercise – lying flat on your back and using only you ab muscles (not your hips) try to get your back to be completely flat.Basically, you pull your abs up and in, with no other body movement. Once you get good at this, you will be able to do when you’re standing (or running) to alleviate any pressure on your back.

“Dead Bugs” – another abs exercise – Begin by lying on back, knees up and bent at 90 degrees. Tighten your abs in the position for pelvic neutrals, so your back is flat on the floor/mat through the entire exercise. Take the arms straight up overhead, without arching your back. Slowly lower the right arm and left leg towards the floor while keeping the lower back on the floor. Bring them back and then repeat with the left arm and right leg. THIS WILL BE HARD at first. Consider the same exercise with the feet on the floor. Begin with 1 set of 10reps and try to move to 3 sets of 10reps. It looks something like this – the key is to keep your back flat, NO ARCHING.

“BlackBurns” – lying on your stomach, with your hands by your sides, palm on the mat. Pinch your shoulders back, sort of pushing out your chest and raise your arms. Hold this pose for 6 seconds. Repeat this move for 1-3 sets of 10.

“No Monies” – you will need a resistance band for this one. Holding the resistance band taught in your hands, pinch your shoulders back – pushing out your chest. Then, keeping your elbows at your side, pull your hands apart stretching the resistance band. Hold this pose for about 5sec. Increase from 1 set of 10 reps to 3 sets as your strength improves. (This will make a whole lot more sense if you can imagine yourself responding to someone who has just asked you for money, when you don’t have any.)

I didn’t realize it at the time, but these exercises are making me a stronger runner and a stronger swimmer. They also help me keep a better position on the bike. I have a lot of tension in my shoulders and tend to keep them clenched and raised. If you’re anything like me, try to do these exercises every other day or so, and I think you will notice some improvement.