My coach @hyenamuaythai asked me for an exercise for upper back pain, and this is one I recommended.
Thoracic pain is common in combat sports. Striking requires a rounded-over posture by default, which can lead to muscular pain over time. Add in the physical stress of fighting and potential injury, and you have a setup for chronic neck or back pain.
There are many ways to treat pain, but the simplest is strengthening the muscles in the weakened or previously injured area.
I like to use this angel of death exercise because it trains all the muscles that get overly lengthened or neglected from fight posture: it works the trapezius, rhomboids, rear delts, and rotator cuff, all at the same time.
To note, I’m raising my legs off the ground and contracting glutes as well. The entire length of your spinal erectors and glutes are working isometrically.
It’s a hard exercise, but it’s also not a significant compound movement that will add to your fatigue from training. You could do 2-3 sets of 10 reps at the end of a training session, and you’ll be fully recovered.
Im using 2.5lb weights in the video, you could go as heavy as 5 lbs, but the emphasis is on the quality of movement, NOT the weight.