Five Foundational Habits for Help: Spinal Mobility
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Imagine sitting at your desk working for hours in the same less-than-ideal position. What are you feeling? Maybe you notice tightness in your shoulder, burning in your mid back area, aching in your neck, or even a headache or migraine might come on. Can anyone relate to this scenario? 

If so, you are not alone. As of 2022, 26% of U.S. employees work remotely, and 4.7 million people work remotely at least half of the time. With the growing trend of working from home, there has been an increasing trend of neck and back pain. 

There are several avenues to reverse the effects of spending more time sitting: proper ergonomic set-up, switch to a standing desk, changing positions frequently and, my favorite, daily spinal mobility exercises. Performing these exercises daily can improve your posture, reduce neck and back pain, help to keep your shoulders healthy and improve lung volume. 

Ways to optimize this strategy include being consistent with the following exercises: thread the needle, reach and roll, wall push-up plus and breathing. 

Thread the needle: Position yourself on all fours. Inhale and reach one hand toward the sky, then exhale, and reach through toward the other side under your opposite arm. Perform three to five times on each side.


Reach and roll: Laying on your side with your knees bent, reach your top arm forward along your bottom arm, then slowly and gently bring it back across your body opening through your chest. Keep your knees and hips down to avoid compensation. Perform three to five times on each side.


Wall push-up plus: Standing with your hands on the wall at shoulder height, lift your head and lean in toward the wall like you are going to do a push-up. Allow your upper back to extend, then tuck your chin and push out through your hands, allowing your upper back to round out between the shoulder blades until a stretch is felt. Perform ten times. 

Give these a try for the next few weeks and keep track of how you feel! For further guidance, reach out to me as I’d be happy to journey with you. Next month, we will focus on the key to your foundation: the core!



About Author

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Dr. Crystal Whitmarsh is the owner of Whitmarsh Health and Wellness, LLC, and co-owner of Trail Creek Coffee Roasters in Kasson, Minnesota. She is a board-certified physical therapist. She was raised by a single mother in upper Michigan where she played college basketball for 4 years at Finlandia University. During that time, she found a love of serving her community which developed her servant leadership philosophy through outreach and volunteer work. After graduating in 2006 with her associate degree, she moved to Minnesota with her husband and began working as a physical therapist assistant. She continued her educational journey and completed her Bachelor’s in Exercise Science from Minnesota State University, Mankato in 2010 and in 2013 she obtained her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the Mayo Clinic School of Health Sciences. She is the first female in her family to attain a terminal degree. In addition to Dr. Whitmarsh’s academic accomplishments, and while working full time and serving in her community, she and her husband opened their coffee roasting business in their home under the Minnesota cottage food exemption in 2017. During this time, she focused on advertising and networking strategies, specifically trying to collaborate with non-profit or locally run businesses. She has been engaged in multiple business-related platforms including the Women’s Entrepreneur Forum, the Chamber of Commerce, Master Networks, and The Full Circle. In January of 2023, Dr. Whitmarsh launched Whitmarsh Health and Wellness, LLC, a private physical therapy practice. Her mission is to evaluate, elevate, and empower people who desire to improve their health by optimizing their brain and body through individualized physical therapy to provide lifelong wellness.

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