Stress can cause a variety of physical responses, including headaches, tummy trouble, teeth grinding, and—for many people—muscle tension in the neck and shoulders. Doing the following exercises designed to stretch these areas can provide relief.
Do these exercises on a regular basis and at any time you feel your shoulders tightening up.
- Sit up straight in a chair or stand up straight. Raise your shoulders up toward your ears. Pull them forward, then down and back before returning to your starting position. Change direction and repeat. Repeat three to five times.
- Sit upright in a chair and interlace your fingers behind your head as you keep your elbows straight out to the side. Pull your shoulder blades toward each other until you feel a stretch in your upper back and shoulders. Hold, then relax. Repeat three to five times.
- Exhale, then squeeze your shoulder blades together by pulling your bent elbows toward each other behind your back.
Do these exercises several times a day or at any time you feel the need.
- While sitting or standing, keep your head upright as you hold the palm of your hand against your forehead. Press your head forward while resisting with your hand. Hold for 10 seconds, then release. While holding your clasped hands behind your head, press your head backward. Hold for 10 seconds.
- While sitting or standing, slowly lower your left ear toward your left shoulder, hold, then return to your starting position. Repeat five times on this side, then switch to the right side and repeat five more times.
Remember: Change your posture throughout the day and avoid staying in one position for too long. Avoid hunching over your desk or computer keyboard, and take breaks throughout the day to stand up straight, walk around, and consciously relax your neck and shoulders.
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