Bruegger Exercise

  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".


How can the Bruegger Exercise help Stretching?

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 posture.


Bruegger Exercise for Upper Extremities

  To achieve the starting position:

  1. 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.
  2. Turn your palms toward you so the band is still draped across your thumbs.
  3. Bring your hands over the top of the band and under so that the band is wrapped around your hands.
  4. Your hands should now be in front of you, palms facing one another, thumbs up, elbows at 90 degrees.


  1. Pull your thumbs up further.
  2. Spread your fingers apart.
  3. Extend your wrists.
  4. Turn your palms up.
  5. Pull your hands apart by rotating your shoulders externally.
  6. Straighten your elbows.
  7. Pull your arms behind you.

Perform 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.

 Here's a video