Sitting at a desk isn’t great for the human body, but for most people it’s a day-to-day occurrence. For those who sit at a computer especially, your thoracic spine and shoulder mobility can suffer.

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Most runner focus primarily on their lower limbs when doing strength training, but your spine and shoulder mobility shouldn’t be overlooked. After all, your upper body plays a huge role in knee drive and acceleration when running. Below are four simple exercises that require minimal equipment to keep your upper body both strong and loose.

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High plank

Photo: Nike

This plank variation is essentially a full-body exercise with an emphasis on shoulder and back strength. Get into a high plank position (arms straight instead of bent) and pull your shoulder blades together, then release. Pulling your shoulder blades together will slightly lower your body, but try your best to keep you body level through this movement. If the high plank is too difficult, start on your knees in a push up position.

Around the world rotations

Lie on the ground and hold your water bottle or a light dumbbell in front of you. Rotate the water bottle around your head to help with arm strength and shoulder mobility. Rotate 10 turns left and then right. For a demonstration, see the final exercise of the above video.

Weighted deadlifts

This exercise works your whole body but also stretches out your shoulders and back. Grab two medium-weight dumbbells and hold them at your side. Slowly lift one leg and simultaneously lower your your arms until your lifted leg and shoulders are level. Hold for three seconds and return your foot to the ground and lift your upper body. Repeat with your other leg.

Dumbbell shoulder press with lunge

With one medium-weight dumbbell, form an ‘L’ shape with your arms. Try your best to keep one arm fully extended while pressing up with your weighted arm. Someone should be able to put a little force on your extended arm without it falling. Repeat with your other side.

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