With the days getting longer and the temperatures getting a bit warmer, Spring has invited to me to start walking more. I am a person who loves to stack things, so I have started walking to my weekly Yoga class. I have to leave only about 15 minutes earlier than I usually do, and I get a nice 25 min walk there and back through my local parks.
Last week, I walked to class and it was fairly pleasant outside, but after class, the temps had fallen a bit. I mention this because this lead me to put my hands in my pockets to keep them warm. I noticed about 15 minutes into my walk that my mid-back was getting stiff and my neck and shoulders were a little achy. I tried to think about what we had done in class that would have caused this to happen. I thought “I just took a Yoga class. I should feel awesome!” when I realized my hands had been in my pockets this whole time.
With my hands tucked into my coat pockets, my arms were unable to swing in their natural movement.
No swinging = no natural rotation of the spine = pain in my mid-back and shoulders.
When we don’t swing our arms when walking, we lose the subtle rotation of the spine that needs to happen for proper movement. That rotational force needs to go somewhere, meaning we rotate too much at other places, including the low-back. In my case, not only was I putting extra force through my low-back, but my mid-back and neck were also bracing against the rotational force that should have been happening. Hence, the tight back and shoulders.
So the quick lesson of the day is Swing Your Arms! And make sure you are swinging them with a whole-body movement. None of this moving from the elbow BS (more on this later).