Tight muscles in your neck, upper back, and shoulders can be uncomfortable and sometimes down right painful. A build up of tight muscles causing tension in this area of the body can put pressure on delicate nerves and may even bring on a headache. Gentle stretching is a great way to help loosen sore and tight muscles, and bring more blood flow to the affected area. Taking a minute to stretch and release these overworked muscles will help reduce the stress and tension you are feeling in your body and in your mind. Take a few minutes away from your desk, or the kids, or the kitchen and regroup and refresh yourself with these simple but powerful stretches.
1. Lifting and Lowering the Shoulders
Position: Sitting tall in a chair or on the floor. Remains the same throughout these exercises.
Movement: Inhale as you lift your shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale as you press your shoulders down. 5 times
Tips: Maintain good posture while sitting. Think of drawing your shoulder blades up and down your spine as you lift and lower your shoulders to warm up your upper back and lungs.
2. Shoulder Rolls Front and Back
Movement: Roll your shoulders forward and then up as you inhale, then press them back and down as you exhale. Then reverse. 3 times each way.
Tips: work to maintain your good posture and try letting your eyes and face relax as you do this movement, it will help you relax too.
3. Stretch Your Ear to Your Shoulder
Movement: Reach up with one hand and grab your opposite ear. Gently pull you head down towards the shoulder of the hand that is pulling your head over and down. Then slowly lift the head back up and lower your hand. Perform 1 time then repeat other side.
Tips: Try to breath evenly as you do this stretch. Do Not pull aggressively on your head, as this will just irritate your tight muscles.
4. Tipping Your Hat
Movement: On a slight diagonal angle, place one hand on your head with your nose pointing towards your elbow. Exhale as you slowly lower your elbow and follow the movement with your head by lowering your nose with your elbow. Then slowly lift the head back up and lower your hand. Perform 1 time then repeat other side.
Tips: Imagine you have a hat on and you are about to courteously tip your hat. Always move slowly with caution.
5. Back of the Neck Stretch
Movement: Place both hands behind your head then gently and slowly pull your head down towards your chest. Draw your elbows in together as you exhale. Inhale and open the elbows back out to the sides, then press the head firmly into the hands as you lift the head back up, resisting and creating gentle pressure with the hands. Perform 1-2 times.
Tips: Don’t lace the fingers behind the head, and resist the head with your hands on the way back up firmly, but gently.
6. Neck Roll
Movement: Start by looking over one shoulder. Release the head and let the chin drop down towards your chest and circle it over to the other shoulder. Repeat slowly in the opposite direction. Exhale as you drop the chin, and inhale as you lift up to the opposite side. Repeat twice on each side.
Tips: Maintain good posture as you roll your neck to get the optimum stretch in the neck area.
Hope these stretches bring you some relief and respite from your holiday duties,