What Is the Wall Angels Exercise?

wall angels
Table of Contents

At a desk and in front of a computer. This is where many people spend hours at a time in today’s world. As people shift positions to remain comfortable, their sitting posture also changes. This frequently results in slumping or an overly arched back.

When you sit for long periods of time, your back muscles keep your body in alignment. As these muscles tire, your body sags, and your head moves forward. The back of your pelvis will roll back, and the front of your trunk will bend causing an arch in your lower back.

Not surprisingly, long periods of time spent in one position – sitting at a computer, watching tv, or looking at a phone – cause muscles to change length and weaken. 

Trunk muscles and the muscles in the back of the neck lengthen and weaken. At the same time, muscles in the abdomen, chest, shoulders, and front of the neck are stiffer and shorter. The next thing you know, this semi-curled position becomes your regular posture.

At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy posture strengthening exercises are incorporated to counter the effects of your slouching habit. Our Dallas physical therapists and orthopaedic specialists of Dallas help you get stronger back muscles and longer shoulders, core, and front of the neck muscles with just one quick workout.

What Is the Wall Angels Exercise?

For strengthening your back and opening up rounded shoulders, the wall angel is the go-to workout. Shoulder rotation, scapular mobility, upper back activation, and chest and shoulder muscular release are all addressed by this exercise.

Also called a “V” to “W” stretch, the exercise is very helpful if you sit a lot throughout your day. It’s also good for athletes who have a lot of upper-body resistance training in their workout regimens. That’s because wall angels counteract the effect of shortening muscles caused by exercises like the bench press. 

Performing the exercise the recommended 2 to 3 times a day is quick and simple and only needs a small amount of wall space. 

Wall Angels for Posture

It has been proven that therapeutic exercises help improve posture. Improved posture has a number of advantages, including less discomfort and pain.

To that end, wall angels are among the most effective exercises you can do. Scrunching over desks, phones, and computers all day leads to hunched backs and rounded shoulders, as well as a head and jaw that jut forward. 

The sooner you get to work improving your posture, the better. Some posture positions are harder to adjust and change as you become older and exercises won’t help. Also, keep in mind that back and spine conditions such as scoliosis may not see any benefit from posture correcting exercise.

At a minimum, though, the majority of people gain strength in the muscle they use each day simply by performing postural exercise daily. 

Wall Angels Benefits

Wall angels are a great exercise to help counteract a curved or flexed posture and its effects. This move activates the upper back postural muscles that keep your shoulders pushed back. They also help to lengthen and strengthen the muscles in your chest, spine, and trunk. Your core muscles also function to keep you in a neutral position by stabilizing your trunk.

The exercise also relieves stress in the shoulders, making it easier to raise your arms above your head, and it keeps your head in line with your body, reducing neck muscle tension.

Among the many benefits the wall angels exercise offers are:

  • They enhance thoracic spine mobility. If you master wall angels fast, your spine becomes extremely flexible. This allows you to perform other high-intensity, dynamic workouts.
  • They improve your posture. Many people suffer from poor posture. Including wall angels in their routine could be the missing component to correct that issue. 
  • They are a great warm-up exercise. Wall angels are a wonderful addition to your warmup/stretching sessions if your workout routine involves any exercises that need thoracic spine mobility, such as overhead pressing and squats.
  • Help relieve neck and back pain. The main goal of this workout isn’t to strengthen your neck. It can, however, alleviate some of the tension and pain in that area. This exercise does directly impact your back.
  • The exercise is a great stress reliever. Stress causes your muscles to tense. The wall angels exercise helps release tension in important muscle groups like your upper back, neck, and shoulders and lower stress levels. 

How To Do Wall Angels

The typical version of the exercise is done with your back pressed to a wall. The wall serves as a source of feedback, ensuring that your spine remains neutral and your arms stay in place.

  • With your back against the wall and your feet 6–12 inches away from the wall, slightly bend your knees.
  • Tilt your pelvis to the rear, lean your mid back on the wall and flatten your lower back against the wall.
  • Tuck your chin in slightly to stretch your neck, and place the back of your head against the wall with your chin tucked.
  • Move your shoulders away from your ears and down.
  • Bring your arms up to 90 degrees and place your elbows, then the backs of your hands, against the wall.

Modified Wall Angel Exercise

You don’t want this exercise to hurt, but you do want to challenge yourself. If pain prevents you from doing wall angels, there are ways to modify them. One way is by placing a pillow or towel between the back of your head and the wall. Allowing your arms to get close to the wall without actually touching it is another modification. Finally, try lying on your back with your knees bent to complete the exercise. 

Now, if you want to increase the difficulty level, try adding a resistance band or doing a tilting wall angel. 

What If You Can’t Do Wall Angels?

There are several exercises that also strengthen these muscles if you are unable to do wall angels. A few alternatives include Cat-Cow, Wall Slides, Quadruped Scapular Retraction, Lateral Arm Raise, Shoulder Rolls, Overhead Arm Reach, and Child’s Pose.  

Mistakes to Avoid When Doing Wall Angels

Even for folks who are flexible and stretch regularly, wall angels can be a challenging workout. However, if you watch out for a few common errors when performing the exercise, you should be fine.

Neck bending is one of the most common errors individuals make when performing wall angels. The goal of this exercise is to test spinal mobility, which isn’t often accompanied by core control. You’ll find it difficult to keep your lower back against the wall as a result. Your body does this to make up for the lack of mobility in your spine. 

The second most common blunder is protruding the neck. This is due to the fact that you may struggle to get your arms above your head, and then your body compensates for it by pushing your neck forward. Be sure to tuck your neck in while doing the exercise. 

Shifting or lifting hips during the exercise is also common. This is another way the body compensates to make the exercise easier. You’ll need to focus and press your back to the wall.

Finally, perform the exercise slowly. This lets you determine problem areas in your spine that you can focus on and move correctly. 

What Other Muscles Do Wall Angels Work?

Wall angels work muscles in your upper and lower body.  Specifically targeted are the shoulders. The most mobile joints in your body are your shoulders. This increased range of motion comes at the expense of instability, which increases the risk of joint injury. By reducing the load on your shoulders, wall angels can assist to reduce the chance of damage.

The hamstrings also benefit from the exercise. Your hamstrings play a bigger role in your body movement than you might realize. They are involved in everything from walking to jogging to cycling, among other activities. Weak hamstrings can cause knee injuries, therefore strengthening them with wall angels can help you avoid this.

Call SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy Today

At SPORT Orthopedics + Physical Therapy want to make sure you maintain your mobility and reduce the pain that comes from today’s modern lifestyle. Call (469) 200-2832 to speak with one of our Dallas orthopedic doctors about getting back to your pain-free life.