9 Easy Stretches for Shoulder and Neck Tension

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Photo credit: huffingtonpost

At one point or another, you’re going to start feeling some tension and tightness in your neck and shoulders. Most of us work hunched over in front of computers all day and drive long hours just to get to work  and unless you have perfect posture, the muscles supporting your neck and shoulders really takes a beating.

There are ways to help alleviate that discomfort. In fact you can usually prevent it from occurring to begin with. Before you head to the chiropractor, get in the habit of stretching on a regular basis. If you spend just a few minutes every day to both relax, as well as lengthen, your muscles, you will find that they will work well for you day in and day out.

Perform each stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of 1 minute, in sets of 3.


1. Triangle

Stand with your feet wider than hip width apart. Place your right toes out and the left toes point in. Extend your arms and place them at shoulder height. As you shift your torso forward over your right leg, your torso will eventually be parallel to the ground. Put your right hand on your right knee as you extend your left arm towards the sky. Hold for at least 30 seconds for each side.


2. Shoulder Rolls

If you’ve been sitting in the same position for a long time, this movement will relieve all the tension in your shoulders and upper back.

Sit upright and inhale as you lift your right shoulder to the right ear. Exhale as you roll your shoulder slowly around and back, letting it drop away from your ear. Continue this move 3 times, alternating right and left shoulders.

Then, inhale as you lift both shoulders to your ears simultaneously. Exhale as your drop them. Repeat this movement 5 times.  Read also how to lower back pain.


3. Chest Expansion

Put your right foot forward and your left foot back. Bend your right knee until it is directly above your ankle. Clasp hands behind your back and you lift your chest up and out. Fall forward slowly towards that right leg but keep your arms straight, your hands clasped. Keep your spine straight by gazing at the floor. Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds each side.


4. Chair Twist

This is a great move for releasing the tension in your back, especially the middle back. After you have been sitting for a long period of time, this will feel really great!

Sit towards the front of your chair and rotate your thighs towards the right side so you are actually sitting diagonally in the chair. Lift your right arm towards the ceiling. As you exhale, move your arm to the back of the chair on the opposite side, actually holding on to the chair backrest. Bring your left hand to the right knee and inhale. Exhale, and then twist to the right, pressing your right hand to really deepen that twist. Breathe deeply and stay in this position for 5 or 10 breaths. Then repeat on the opposite side.

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5. Side Stretch

This is a great one to relieve the tension in your wrists from typing all day, as well as stretch your sides and lower back tightness.

Stand with feet hip-width apart. Inhale as you stretch your arms out the sides. Lift your arms over your head with your palms facing one another. Exhale as you take hold of the left wrist with your right hand. Inhale and stretch the fingers of the left hand towards the ceiling, then exhale as you pull your left arm over the right side. Keep your head and left arm in alignment with your body. You are sure to feel this stretch on your entire left side from hip to fingertips. Exhale and switch sides. Do twice on each side.

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Photo credit: huffingtonpost

6. Straddle

Stand with your feet wider than hip width. Bend both knees and shift your hips to the rear. Place your hands on your thighs with your fingers pointed forward. Drop your right shoulder towards the middle of your body, pressing your fingers into your thigh for leverage. Return to center, then drop your left shoulder. Keep your glutes tight for support. Alternate sides for one minute.

7. Chest Stretch

This will open the chest and decrease those rounded shoulders, while releasing all stiffness in the middle back.

Sitting near the edge of your chair, interlace your fingers behind you, palms facing your back. Lean forward slightly and lift your arms, resting them on the back of your chair. Inhale as you lift your chest. Exhale and relax your shoulders, pushing them away from your ears. If you cannot reach the top of the chair, grasp both sides of the chair back and pull forward, lifting and stretching the chest. Hold this position for 5 to 10 breaths.


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8. Neck Stretch

This is a good stretch for a stiff neck. You will really feel how it not only stretches, but lengthens the neck, making space between each of you vertebrae in your spine.

Sit upright in a chair but don’t let your back rest against the back of the chair. Sit with your head directly over your spine. Actually feel the top of your head lifting up towards the sky. You might even want to hold onto the sides of your chair seat with your left hand for support. Inhale deeply, then exhale and drop your right ear towards your right shoulder. Don’t let your left shoulder lift up and don’t turn your head, keep your face forward. Take several deep breaths and feel that stretch on the left side of your neck!  Repeat twice on both sides.


9. Shoulder and Back Release

v  Sit on the edge of your chair and put your feet about 2.5 feet apart. Lean forward and place your forearms on the inside of your thighs. Press your thighs out using your forearms. Breathe deeply in, then out, feeling the stretch in the inner part of your thighs.

v  Making sure that your knees are directly over your heels, and keeping your feet parallel to each other, slowly stretch your arms towards the floor. You should now be resting your ribcage on your thighs and your armpits should be near your knees. Cross your arms, and place your hands on your opposite elbows. Don’t stop breathing!

v  For a super deep back stretch, stretch out your arms forward towards either the floor or your des, and reach through your fingers. Really feel your spine lengthening. Round your back and very slowly, roll up and return to a sitting position.