This is an exercise that is great to do if you get an ache in your upper to mid back, between your shoulder blades. I’d also recommend it if you have chronic neck pain or if you are the kind of person who does things with their arms in front of them, such as riding a bike, chopping vegetables, typing on a computer, sweeping, holding a steering wheel, carrying a backpack, and photographing cats.
The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the muscles in your back that are aching from all the activities you do in front of you. When you are photographing a cat, the muscles for bringing your arms forward and holding the camera up are getting stronger, and the opposite muscles in the back get weaker and start complaining. This exercise will help give those weak muscles a fighting chance so they can stop whining to you and stand up for themselves.
Slide your scapulas (shoulder blades) down toward your back pockets. Try to not roll your shoulders backward: the movement should only be vertical. It ends up being a very small, subtle movement—I think my scapulas move down about an inch, and it might feel like less than that. They will never make it as far as your back pockets, but you have to keep trying anyway.
Once you’ve pushed your scapulas down, hold them there a moment and then simply let them drift back up. Repeat the depressions about 10 times or whatever feels most appropriate to you. Just like any exercise, this will tire your muscles out eventually, so you can also just do it until you feel tired. However, if you feel any unreasonable amount of pain or discomfort, stop.
Anytime! While sitting in class, eating a muffin, at a meeting, rocking your baby, waiting in line, riding a horse, basking in the sun…