The Bruegger exercise (some people spell
it Brugger) is an exercise that activates the phasic muscles. According
to Vladamir Janda some muscles can be categorized as phasic and some as
tonic. During our work we typically spend an inordinate amount of time
in a flexed forward position. Because of the mostly repetitive nature
of our work lives, we tend to underuse some muscles while overusing
others. Those muscles that are typically overused or "hypertonic" are
those in the tonic category. I list those in "How
to Improve Posture
can the Bruegger Exercise help Stretching?
Exercise for Upper Extremities
The tonic category of muscles in the upper body includes the neck
extensors, pectoral muscles, upper trapezius, levator scapulae etc.
These muscles pull your head forward, shoulders forward and up, arms
in, and flex the wrists and fingers. The Brugger exercise uses the
antagonistic muscles, those that extend the thumb, fingers, wrist, and
extend and externally rotate the shoulders.
Think of the two categories of muscles as generating forces
that should work harmoniously to allow for a balanced posture just as
the bass and treble knobs on a radio should be balanced to create
harmonious sounds. Turn up the bass too high and the sound is no longer
harmonious as the treble gets drowned out. Likewise if the treble is
turned up too high or the bass too low.
By "turning up" the activity in the phasic group of muscles
we can, through reciprocal inhibition "turn down" activity in the tonic
group of muscles allowing for further stretching and a more balanced
To achieve the starting position:
- Stand up straight with your hands up at shoulder level, palms
facing away from you and band draped across your thumbs in front of
your wrists. Leave about two feet of band slack in front of you.
- Turn your palms toward you so the band is still draped across
- Bring your hands over the top of the band and under so that
the band is wrapped around your hands.
- Your hands should now be in front of you, palms facing one
another, thumbs up, elbows at 90 degrees.
- Pull your thumbs up further.
- Spread your fingers apart.
- Extend your wrists.
- Turn your palms up.
- Pull your hands apart by rotating your shoulders externally.
- Straighten your elbows.
- Pull your arms behind you.
this exercise slowly taking a full 4 seconds to bring your hands back,
hold for 2 seconds and take a full 4 seconds to come back to the
starting position with your elbows bend, hands in front of you. Repeat
this for 2 minutes or until you feel you are no longer able to complete
the repetitions smoothly as instructed.