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Want to test your upper back strength? Here is a great exercise that does just that plus it also functions as a way to train your shoulders to remain depressed and retracted (down and back), as means to ensure good posture.

This exercise is one that I will be returning to in about 2 months.

Why am I waiting? Here’s my story:

It was early April and the New England region was experiencing an unusual thermal morning. Strolling around the perimeter of our property, I sauntered to the backyard where our fading bluish-gray ramshackle of a shed sits. I had made a snap decision to grab a couple of double ring wraparound plant supporters for the peonies which were beginning to emerge through the soil. I was excited because this year I was on top of things. Typically I wait until these beauties grow to about three feet before I shove them through the openings of the rings.
Peonies are resilient, aren’t they?

Anyway, as I shifted the shed’s rusted door latch to the right and heaved open the entryway, a certain buzzing sound registered on this girl’s hippocampus. It was  emanating from creatures that would make Stephen King’s villain, Pennywise, seem angelic.
There must have been thousands, or one or two depending on who you ask, of the biggest, meanest yellow jackets you have ever seen.

I freaked.

I wobbled.. stumbled… slipped and descended backwards and landed smack dab on my keister!

Luckily there was no injury to my coccyx but I did sustain a significant injury to my pride shoulder girdle.  After five months of doctor’s visits and an MRI, I can happily say I will be starting to rehab the impairment this week. The exact type of injury and the mobility exercises to get me back in the saddle will be a future post.

By the time my shoulder function has been restored. seven to eight months will have passed without the ability to execute any upper body weight work. One way to test my upper body strength, once I begin to implement strength training, is to perform the hanging scapular retraction.

The movement begins by placing hands in an overhand grip on a pull up bar. Hands are shoulder width apart. Arms are straight. Depress and retract the scapulae (press shoulder blades down and back/in). Hold for as long as possible. Weakness in the upper back is indicated if you have trouble keeping yourself stabilized in this position within a 10 second time frame. I performed this exercise on a regular basis even when my upper back was at its peak strength. It’s fun and it’s a reminder, for the sake of good posture, to keep those shoulders tucked in your back pocket!



I may need to be permanently medicated if killer bees ever make it to the New England area of the United States.  Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make the biggest impact, what is your killer bee story? Please leave a comment…