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Eugo

New to handstands and gymnastics. Sore upper-inner back

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Hi all, 

New here and sincere apologies, but I have not been able to find a post that relates to the above. I'm happy to be directed to a relevant post or thread if this has already been covered. 

I've been working on handstands and tumbling since about a year and a bit. Prior to this I was mostly doing yoga, with a middling level of skill. In addition to handstand and gymnastics classes twice a week, I recently signed up to Emmett's online programme at the Handstand Factory. I also purchased the previous edition of Overcoming Neck and Back Pain and Kit's Shoulder Mobility Vimeo Video's a few weeks ago. I'm doing the shoulder stretches as well as exercises recommended for lower and upper back pain in Kit's book. 

For years now I have had intermittent soreness in my rt. inner upper back - roughly middle traps, rhomboids area which radiates a little to the neck. Usually it's not a problem, tends to flare up for a few weeks in a year. It seems like it is coming back now as a result of all the overhead work that I have been doing. Aches in that area (sometimes spreading to left side) soon after my handstand practise. Pain seems to go away when I rest and don't train. 

I have a good physio who did some miraculous trigger point release work and has recommended thoracic stretching (quaduped side stretches, lying back side stretches). Since I've started handstand practise he seems to think that my thoracic and shoulder mobility is reasonably good (been working with Kit's programme), but I should continue to improve it as the range required is greater. He has also said that he thinks that my shoulder strength/stability in an overhead position is not that good for the volume I am doing and this is the main reason for the pain. He's recommended that I do overhead shoulder strengthening exercises e.g. single arm kettlebell carries pronating/supinating forearm whilst walking and also lying on my back/side

I work out for an hour twice weekly at the classes. Plus once a twice a week for half an hour at home. At best can hold a freestanding handstand for about 10 seconds before I lose balance. Slowly improving this and happy with my progress. 

Would love to know what you guys think of the above. Also something to relieve the sore upper back after my workout would be good. I do some lat, neck and shoulder stretching afterwards but no dice. 

Perhaps I am being too impatient and should just persist with the above, maybe reducing the load?
 

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Welcome to the forums, Eugo :)

1 hour ago, Eugo said:

Perhaps I am being too impatient

This is true for 99.9% of us :lol:

1 hour ago, Eugo said:

maybe reducing the load?

Without knowing the details of your sessions, that sounds like a reasonable course of action. Alternatively, scale down the work you are doing to accommodate your current overhead flexibility, endurance levels, etc.

1 hour ago, Eugo said:

Also something to relieve the sore upper back after my workout would be good.

Stretching is good, but rolling the area well with a nice, firm ball (lacrosse, Kong, etc.) can work wonders.

Also, keep in mind that the "source" of the issue is often not where you feel the effects (to some degree, at least). You seem to be working above and below the problem area, which is good, but make sure you're not just going through the motions when addressing the non-problem areas, i.e. the neck, lats, etc. It can't hurt to just give that whole area of your upper body some love. Scalenes, pec minor, rotator cuff in all directions, back bends, spinal rotation, etc. in addition to what you're doing.

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Nathan, thanks! Yes this slow progress is frustrating. It seems like every time I decide to commit to training and pick up the pace, I’m reach these blocks.

I was using a roll, tennis and vibrating ball earlier but my physio said something similar to you - that the area of pain was not indicative of a problem there. He emphasised trigger points in areas not near the back eg: chest, side, neck - So I gave up on that. I’ll go back to the rolling I think. 

Yeah so it seems the answer as you say is not that exciting. Reduce load, stretch and strengthen more :) I was hoping for some holy grail, hand balancing world answer. Could adding back bending be the key? 

I gave my old ‘overcoming neck...’ edition to a friend and new one coming today which should fire up some enthusiasm! 

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7 hours ago, Eugo said:

It seems like every time I decide to commit to training and pick up the pace, I’m reach these blocks.

I can relate! This usually just means that we want to do something before we've adequately prepared the body to do it. We work around these weak links in the chain and push ourselves until they start to break and we can't ignore them anymore. Or at least that's my pattern :rolleyes:

7 hours ago, Eugo said:

He emphasised trigger points in areas not near the back eg: chest, side, neck - So I gave up on that. I’ll go back to the rolling I think. 

I wouldn't let that stop you from rolling the sore area. Even if the source is elsewhere, that doesn't mean rolling won't help alleviate the soreness, etc.

7 hours ago, Eugo said:

Yeah so it seems the answer as you say is not that exciting. Reduce load, stretch and strengthen more :) I was hoping for some holy grail, hand balancing world answer. Could adding back bending be the key? 

Pretty much. The solution is rarely exciting. I will add that handstands are primarily pushing, so it's good to add some pulling for balance (if you don't already). Back bending might not be the key, but it can't hurt to do a bit :)

Good luck and keep us updated!

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