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Thoracic stretches during triceps tendonitis rehab


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What are some good alternative stretches for improving extension in the spine, for back bends, without aggravating the tendonitis in my triceps? Stretches like the box bridge cause too much stress on my elbow and triceps on my right arm. Any kind of pressing movement will give me a slight pain in my elbow. "Ex. 2 backward bending from the floor", only works if I press mostly with my left arm, and only add the support of my right when I can fully extend both arms. With the elbows on the floor I still feel a pain in my elbow. Passive backbends over a support do not cause pain though I feel as if I either am doing the exercise wrong, thus feeling no stretch, or I need to make it more intense. The rehab process is going great and its getting better. I just don't want to put any undo stress on my elbow. Also, I don't want to lose time working on my upper back for the sake of my elbow. 

If needed, I can explain with a video to illustrate the issue. 

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Hi Alex,

The passive back bend is excellent and you should continue using it. You can add intensity by holding a weight in your hands overhead, or position yourself in such a way that you can grab something behind you to add traction and downward force. Do you have the Master the Full Back Bend program? If so, see "E4A-E4B - Passive Back Bend Support" for an example of the latter. If you ask a partner for assistance, they can apply these forces for you which should totally remove any potential burden on your tricep.

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Nathan, 

Yup I've been using that program for a while. I'm a little confused about the sensation I should be feeling during the passive backbend. I'm suppose to be feeling a stretch through the front of my body while tucking my tail correct? If I tuck my tail I feel like I'm just laying there on my wheel/roller with the only sensation being the contraction of my abs. If I untuck my tail I feel a greater sensation in my lower abs, but I'm bending more in the lower back. 

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How much you feel the stretch in the front of the body will depend on how willing your back is to bend. Perhaps you could post a picture of your setup? Where you place the implement and how you position yourself over it will also have an effect, of course. Have you tried different positions? Have you tried holding a weight (or something similar) in your hands? If you can work with a partner (you can!), try following all of the cues in this video:

 

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I went ahead and filmed myself doing a couple of the stretches I already do. Don't mind if you see me closing my eyes during the stretch, I realized right as I started that the sun was directly in my eyes. I'm not a expert at making videos so this is the best I could do today. 

Here 

Just a couple of additional notes that I may have neglected to mention. During this stretches I don't feel a stretch in my chest or lats. Even when I press into my meager backbend I don't feel a struggle in my upper back or arms, I just feel blocked when I feel the tension in my hips and quads. I am able to have my dad help me with a number of stretches, so I'll try again today and see if I can illicit a greater sensation in the front of my body.  

 

UPDATE: 

I was able to have a partner pull my hands down, in the same stretches that I was doing, and I felt a slightly greater stretch. It wasn't a intense sensation but I felt it mostly in my sternum area. One cue that I felt helped a lot was to focus more on pushing my chest up and forwards and not trying to rely too much on shoulder flexion. 

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Hi Alex,

Thanks for the video and explanation. After watching, it seems like your primary concern is actually not the issue that you began this thread by asking about, although it is certainly related. The primary concern of the video seems to be how to improve your back bending (bridge). You are absolutely correct that the HF are a huge bottleneck in the bridge for the vast majority of people. That's the reason elevated bridges are used - to remove much of the HF aspect. Shoulder mobility is also essential. I suggest you watch this video (a few times):

That said, thoracic mobility is of course important as well. But I think you are focused on the wrong thing. You want to feel a big stretch in the front of the body, but whether or not the thoracic spine is extending is much more important than whether you feel a stretch or where you feel a stretch. In the beginning, you will not feel much of stretch (if any) through the anterior of the torso because your spine is simply not bending. Your goal should be to teach the spine how to relax and bend again. An important aspect of this is knowing what that feels like, and it seems like you do not. (That's not an insult - it's the norm for most!) While a foam roller can work, I think a "peanut" may be better for this purpose. Take a look at this video (specifically around 3:48):

I know you said you only have a roller and a yoga wheel, but it's very easy to make your own peanut. Since it is not as wide as a foam roller, it's easier to pull the scapula out of the way and get a better understanding of the sensation of the thoracic spine bending. I would not worry so much about how much PPT you have right now. Letting your lower back bend will not prevent the thoracic from bending, and in the beginning it may even help give your body "permission" to bend in other spots when it is allowed to bend where it is used to bending.

Please keep in mind that my back bend is terrible :lol: But I wanted to give you a few ideas to consider and hopefully someone else more experienced will chime in soon.

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I do have a peanut though I rarely use it for backbends of thoracic extension. I rarely use it now as it doesn't provide much extension anymore nor do I have issues that would necessitate myofasical release. I only use it after hard deadlifting or after spending a bit of time on the rower since that's when those tissues would feel the tightest.  

I did like what Emmett had to say regarding rotation. Do you find yourself using a lot of twisting motions prior to backbending? Also I remember seeing this stretch a long time ago, when Convict Conditioning first came out. Is this an ideal stretch in terms of rotational goals? Or are there better ways/stretches to strive for? I've never seen it used in any of Kit's programs. I would like to hear his opinion regarding it, compared to the other rotational stretches he, or you have, used.  

Also I want to thank you for all the input thus far, its been very helpful. I really think I've been focusing too much on pelvic tilting that I was getting stuck.  

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I only recommended the peanut for getting a feeling of what bending at specific points in the thoracic feels like. Since the peanut is smaller, it's easier to limit the stretch/motion in a specific area. When you're bending over the roller or wheel you're going to get a more even bend along the spine, which means lots of sensations at once and that makes it hard to focus on and explore a specific location.

5 hours ago, Alex said:

Do you find yourself using a lot of twisting motions prior to backbending?

Not really, but maybe I should ;) A lot of good thoracic mobilizations use rotation, though.

5 hours ago, Alex said:

Also I remember seeing this stretch a long time ago, when Convict Conditioning first came out. Is this an ideal stretch in terms of rotational goals? Or are there better ways/stretches to strive for?

I'm not actually sure which one you're talking about. In Emmet's video? I skipped around a bit looking, but I'm still not sure. Can you give a time?

5 hours ago, Alex said:

Also I want to thank you for all the input thus far, its been very helpful. I really think I've been focusing too much on pelvic tilting that I was getting stuck.

Happy to (try to) help. Wish I could give you The Answer™ ;) But I'm glad we seem to have found a clue, at least!

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Ohh, I'm sorry, I had tried to link a specific photo into my last response. In terms of Emmet's video I was talking about this segment

Back to the picture. I haven't seen this use much anywhere besides by Al Kavadlo or the CC books. I have always thought of this stretch as a sort of "end pose", in the same way that Kit uses the term in the last chapter of Stretching & Flexibility. 

full-twist-300x134.png

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@Alex: Yeah, I got the video part but I was confused since I was looking for a stretch there :) I'm pretty sure the stretch Al is doing is a yoga pose, but I don't know the name. Similar stretches are pretty common, I think. In fact, the floor piriformis stretch that is a ST staple is very similar. The Al version simply adds a bit more rotation of the spine. I don't think I would consider it an end pose in terms of flexibility extremes, but it is more of a display-of-flexibility pose in that it's probably more effective to address the pieces separately instead of combining them into one pose.

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  • 4 weeks later...

My elbow is pretty much back to normal now. I started slowly adding box bridges again today I didn't notice much added tightness even though I took time off of it. Hip flexor stretches have been helping my back bend a lot. I focus more now on feeling the sensations in specific parts of my spine. 

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