Cold got your shoulders tight?
As the weather turns colder, we are seeing more and more people coming in with tightness in their trapezius (upper shoulders). There are a number of compounding reasons for this tightness; the cold weather causes us to hold more tension in our muscles to generate a little bit more heat, the coinciding of a stressful holiday season causing us to hold a bit more stress induced tension, and the shorter days generally encourage us to be a bit less active. Tax season doesn’t really help either! While massage can be very helpful for that, the reality is that we can all get considerable relief by practicing a little self care!
Breathe: help reduce your tension and ease your mind
Sit comfortably and let your eyes close (if it’s unnerving for you to have your eyes closed, just maintain a soft gaze). Begin to lengthen your breaths, in through the nose and out through the nose. As you breathe, notice if your shoulders rise during your inhale, and allow then to fall during your exhale. Try to maintain this basic level of awareness of your shoulders and your breath for at least one minute but, obviously, you could continue for much, much longer.
Stretching out your neck and shoulders 1 minute/day
Neck release: to loosen the neck, most of the work will be stretching out the lateral (side) stabilizers of the neck. First, allow your head to fall gently to one side. bring the hand on the same side to your head and rest your hand on top of the head. Using the other hand, press down and away from the neck. Do not press with the hand on your head.
use a strap held between both hands, palms down, arms straight, hands wider than shoulder width. Raise your arms over your head and as far back as you can get them. You will find a position that stretches the front of the chest! Hold for 45 seconds, repeat as often as you like.
Make a long, narrow pile of pillows or rolled blankets. Lie back so that your spine is centered on the pile and your arm and shoulders drop toward the floor. Allow your head to rest back, but keep it supported. Let your chest and upper back gradually relax.
holding the same strap, bring an arm overhead and drop the hand behind your back, keeping your elbow pointed to the sky. With your other arm at your side, bring your hand behind your back and grab ahold of the strap. You can walk your lower hand up the strap until it is taut and you feel a stretch in your upper arm tricep and the front of your shoulder on the lower arm. If you have mobile shoulders, you may be able to bring your hands together. Gradually, draw your elbows back and hold the stretch.
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