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Relieve, Relax, and Restore

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Relieve, Relax, and Restore

You're sitting at a desk most of the day, stressed out at the office, facing road rage in the car, then watching TV while slumped on the couch in the evening - and what do you get? A pain in the neck.

You’re sitting at a desk most of the day, stressed out at the office, facing road rage in the car, then watching TV while slumped on the couch in the evening–and what do you get? A pain in the neck.

If you suffer from shoulder or neck pain, you have a very common condition. The neck and shoulder girdle are extremely mobile, leading to decreased stability than in other areas of the body. With mobility comes susceptibility to injury and discomfort. Both the shoulder joint and the neck rely heavily on surrounding musculature to provide support and stability. When these muscles are improperly used (bad posture) or overused (shoulders lifted because of stress), pain and tightness are inevitable.

Relief for neck and shoulder tension brought on by stress or poor posture is simple. Working with a skilled fitness, Pilates, or yoga professional will lead you to better posture and improved body awareness. Many health care providers, community services, and natural health magazines offer information on specific approaches to stress relief.

In addition, here are five gentle neck and shoulder exercises you can do anywhere. All you need is a place to sit and a minute to yourself.

Caution: If the pain you are experiencing comes from trauma or any form of degenerative disease in the neck or shoulder area, seek permission from your health care provider before attempting any of these movements.

Exercise 1. Paint the ceiling

Sit up tall in a comfortable chair. Imagine your head resting loosely on top of your neck. Now picture an artist’s paint brush sticking out of the centre of the top of your head, pointing straight up to the ceiling. Try the following moves 5 to 10 times in each direction:

  • Paint a line forward and back on the ceiling above you.
  • Paint a line side to side on the ceiling above you. You have now painted a plus sign.
  • Paint a circle around your plus sign in a clockwise and then in a counterclockwise direction.

Your skull should feel like a bobble-head resting on top of your neck during this exercise. Movements should be small and smooth. Your neck will remain fairly still as your head bobbles around gently.

Exercise 2. Shoulder blade slide

Sitting up tall in a comfortable chair, reach your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder level, about shoulder-width apart. Reach arms forward to feel your shoulder blades slide away from each other and move away from the spine.

Now slide shoulder blades toward each other, feeling them come in closer to the spine and creating width in front, across your collarbone. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Exercise 3. Shoulders rise and fall

Sit with arms dangling at your sides or with hands resting in your lap. Slide shoulders up toward your ears and then, with control, slide shoulders away from the ears. Throughout this movement, maintain width across the collarbone so that the shoulders do not round forward. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Exercise 4. Arm scissors

Sitting with arms straight out in front at shoulder level, about shoulder-width apart, reach one arm overhead and the other arm down to the floor. Scissor arms up and down in a smooth, relaxed fashion. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Exercise 5. Head tilts

Sitting with shoulders relaxed, tilt your head to one side to allow a gentle stretch through the side of the neck; then tilt to the other side. Be sure that the torso stays upright and the tilt comes only from the head and neck. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

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