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I have often been asked this and I thought the subject needs a bit of attention now. The question I am asked is:

Ques: Why do I emphasise on upper back so much in my articles?

Ans: Because if one can get their upper back in order then it is almost certain that their entire body ( or at least the upper limb) will reflect a good anatomy display. This would further mean more power, more strength and more speed. This is why I write so much about this beautifully complicated subject of upper back.

shoulderQues: But how?

Let us look at upper back and its muscles to understand this further:

Our upper back consist of three bones: Humerus, Clavicle & Scapula and is called pectoral girdle. All these bones are connected to each other via several ligaments and all the muscles are connected to these bones via tendons making it a robust structure.

SC jointDo you know that the whole upper limb is connected to the rest of skeleton only at one point – the sternoclavicular joint? And this strong joint is actually in the front and not at the back. Interesting? 

 

scapula boneHumerus & clavicle are connected via ligaments as can be seen in these pictures. Interestingly scapula – theligaments of back pivot point of our upper back is hanging free and it is connected to clavicle & humerus via ligaments.

 

Now let us look at muscles briefly to drive home the point – why getting upper back in order is so important?

skeleton & muscles

 

As we understand now that our upper back is more of a floating structure instead of a firm structure like the rest of the body and yet, it is as strong, powerful and useful as any other body part. It is full of muscles as we know (read my back articles to understand it more) and it is connected to our spine (CNS) via these muscles.

Analogy: If I ask you to stand on stepper, followed by bosu ball and lastly on abs ball (with no foundation just air). Where do you think your muscles will have to work most to balance?

IMG-20200517-WA0006Now visualise your upper back without bone attachments to the rest of the skeleton and imagine how your muscles have to work to find the right balance. Is it easy? I don’t think so….look at anybody’s upper back and you will understand the reason. Some would have bigger traps than their shoulders and others have bigger lateral deltoid than the rest.

Why?

IMG_20200510_214410Because it is very difficult to separate muscles of the upper back to put in isolated work on any muscle. All muscles are integrated in such a manner that it is impossible to separate them. The result is that some takes more stress than the other and hence we get to see all kinds of shapes and sizes. Add to this complication… the sporting movements that stress on specific movements (usage of specific muscles more than the other) bringing more imbalance in the structure. If you compare these two back pictures and spot the difference then you have understood my point. In this picture the stress is on the rotator cuff muscles whereas the above picture shows you worked up middle trapezius. Very little difference but yet, a significant one considering they are integrated or rooted into each other.

IMG_20200501_214240 (1)Now the next question is what happens to the front? After all, any effect in the back should have its impact on the front. Well, does the front have any other choice but to be in order?suspension bridge NO…because its a lot easier to bring it in order given it has a strong skeletal structure (ribs, sternum, clavicle) in comparison to the back which is like a suspension bridge. Pull it on any side and it all goes to that side

 

May be now we can relate to why models, celebrities etc always show their anterior side more than the posterior.

I leave you with a few pictures showing you how anterior (front) is related with posterior (back) and why we need both to bring more power, strength or speed. Lock down sport & training 🙂

 

Note: training with 2 bricks and a resistance band since last 2 months.

Warm regards,

Umesh Chhikara

Sports Scientist