Melt the Tension Away With These Simple Stretches!
Are your neck, shoulders and upper back sore and tight? It’s not just stress and poor posture that can cause this. Not stretching after an exercise session can also lead to tension in these areas, eventually inhibiting your active lifestyle. It’s important to incorporate a regular stretch routine into your daily habits to keep yourself active, and limit stress and injuries.
Unlike the hip joint, which is a pretty secure ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder can be a lot less stable and much more prone to strain and injury. Here are a few of our favourite stretches that can be easily introduced to your daily routine to keep you fighting fit.
First step…let’s check that posture!
While standing, allow yourself to slouch forward. From there, engage your core and push the crown of your head up to the ceiling by standing as tall and straight as you can, pulling your shoulder blades back and down at the same time.
Cow Face Pose: Targets Shoulders & Triceps
Reach right arm straight up, then bend elbow and let hand fall behind your head. Move left arm behind the back and bend the arm, letting the back of your left hand rest against the right shoulder blade (or as close to the blade as possible). Reach to grab right fingertips with the left hand. Repeat on the other side.
Make it easier: If you cannot reach the fingertips of the opposite hand, use a yoga strap or towel to assist, creating a light amount of tension by gently pulling on the yoga strap in opposite directions.
Standing Wall Stretch: Targets Shoulders
Place both hands on a wall so they form a 90-degree angle to your body. Walk feet back until arms are straight and bow, hinging forward at the hips. (Do not push on the wall, and do not allow your arms to raise up too high, in order to avoid a shoulder impingement.) Keep shoulder blades set back and avoid scrunching shoulders around the neck.
Low-Back Hand Clasp: Targets Chest & Shoulders
Bring hands behind your back, with thumbs toward the ground, and clasp them together, touching palm-to-palm. Hands should be about even with your low back. Slightly arch the upper back, opening the chest and allowing the shoulder blades to gently come together. Hold for 10 seconds, then reverse the clasp (if your left thumb was on the outside of your clasp, change so that your right thumb is on the outside).
Thread the Needle: Targets Shoulders & Pecs
Start on all fours. Lift left hand off the ground and "thread" left arm through the space between right arm and right leg, letting the back of the left hand and arm slide along the ground. Allow the upper body (thoracic spine) to naturally rotate toward the right, but keep hips level. Stop pushing arm to the right at the point where your hips begin to open to the right. (This may mean less of a range of motion than what you could do if you continued to open.)
Shoulder Rotation with Yoga Strap/Towel
Stand holding the end of a towel in your right hand, with the left hand holding the towel directly next to it. Slide the left hand along the towel until both arms are low and roughly 45 degrees from the body. Grip the towel tight with both hands as you slowly raise your arms forward and over your head, rotating them behind you right down to a low 45-degree angle. Slowly reverse the movement. Repeat this 10 times, keeping your arms straight and your shoulders down throughout the stretch.