Don’t want to end up with a “text neck” or rounded shoulders? These 10 stretches and strengthening exercises will help prevent them.
A lot of us spend too much time either at our computer, on our phone or simply not sitting properly. These create postural misalignments that result in upper back pain and neck and shoulder stiffness. Slumping makes the shoulder blades slide away from the spine, weakening and over-stretching the muscles around them.
These muscles eventually harden into tough bands to protect themselves from the constant strain. As these muscles tire over time, they go into a spasm, which creates hot, persistent pains along the edges of the shoulder blades and sides of the neck.
Here are 10 exercises you should perform if you spend a little too much time on electronic devices. Remember to always go slow and steady with these stretches, and never push too hard if you feel any stabbing pains.
1. Shoulder Blade Pinches
1. Sit or stand in an upright position with the back straight. Pull back your shoulders and keep the arms straight or bent at 90 degrees.
2. Move the elbows backwards and pull the shoulder blades together as much as possible.
3. Hold the contraction for 15-20 seconds. Repeat 3-5 times.
2. Chin Tuck
1. Take your chin and pull it backwards – you are not wanting to tuck your chin down to your chest, you just want to pull it back. You can put a finger on your chin as a target or starting point, and then tuck it in.
2. Hold for 3-5 seconds in the tucked position, and then relax.
3. Repeat 3-5 times.
3. Pectoral Stretch
1. Stand tall with your forearm against a wall and your elbow bent to 90 degrees.
2. Gently turn your body away from the wall until you feel a mild to moderate stretch across your chest.
3. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat 4-5 times.
4. Mountain Pose
1. From a standing position, bring your feet hip width apart, parallel. Feel your weight evenly balanced through the bottom of each foot.
2. Pull up your knee caps, and squeeze the thighs, tucking your tailbone slightly under. Your legs should be straight but knees not locked.
3. Inhale and imagine the top of your head being pulled up by a string toward the ceiling. Exhale and drop your shoulders down and back as you reach the fingertips towards the floor. Gently press your chest/sternum towards the front of the room.
4. Reach out through your fingers and inhale the arms up, turning your palms shoulder height and bringing the arms into an H position.
5. Exhale and relax the shoulders down from the ears, while still reaching your fingers up.
6. Breathe and hold for 5-6 breaths, then release. Repeat 3 times.
5. Laying Down Chin Tuck
1. Roll up a towel and put it right in the curve of your neck on the ground.
2. Push down towards the floor, and hold for 3-5 seconds. The towel is there so that you have a target to push your neck muscles into.
3. Repeat 3-5 times.
6. Locust Pose
1. Lay down on your stomach on the floor with your arms by your sides and your forehead on the floor.
2. Keeping your pelvis and lower belly on the floor, inhale as you lift your chest, head and legs a few inches off the floor and lift your arms toward parallel with the floor.
3. Keep your knees straight, and reach your legs back as you imagine your head reaching forward.
4. Stay in this position for 5 seconds, then exhale and release your legs, chest, head and arms. Turn your head to one side and rest for a couple breaths.
5. Repeat 7-10 times.
7. Isometric Side Bending
1. Stand tall with your chin tucked in (not towards the chest).
2. Place one hand on the side of your head and face.
3. Without allowing movement, attempt to tilt your head to the side without turning it, resisting with your hand.
4. Hold for 5 seconds, and relax. Repeat 10 more times, and then switch to the other side.
5. Do each side twice.
8. Bow Pose
1. Lie on your stomach, and bend your knees, bringing them on your hip (or as close as you can get).
2. Grab your feet with your hands (as shown above) and lift the head, chest, and knees on the mat.
3. Breathing in, kick your legs so that your arms naturally go with them, and roll forward onto your belly.
4. Breathing out, go back into the original position. Repeat 5 times.
9. Corner Wall Chest Stretch
1. Stand facing the corner of a room.
2. With your palms facing the wall and elbows slightly below shoulder height, place each hand and forearm on each side of the corner.
3. Slowly lean inward and bring your head and trunk as one piece toward the corner until you feel a mild stretch in your chest. Do not allow your forearms or hands to move.
4. Hold for 20-30 seconds, and repeat 4-6 times.
10. Camel Pose
1. Kneel upright with your knees hip-distance apart. Press your shins and tops of your feet into the floor, and do not squeeze your buttocks.
2. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, fingers pointing to the floor, almost like they are in your back jean pockets.
3. Lean back, with your chin slightly tucked toward your chest. If you’re a beginner, stay here, and keep your hands on the back of your pelvis.
4. If you are comfortable here, reach back and hold onto each heel. Your palms should rest on your heels with your fingers pointed toward your toes and your thumbs holding the outside of each foot. If you feel any compression in your lower back, tuck your toes to elevate your heels.
5. Lift up through your pelvis, keeping your lower spine long. Keep your head in a neutral position or allow it to drop back without straining or crunching your neck.
6. Hold for 30-60 seconds, and release by bringing your hands back to your front hips. Inhale, and lift your torso by pushing your hips toward the floor, with your head coming up last.
7. Repeat 2-3 times if your back in comfortable with the pose. This is a very deep heart-opening pose, so once or twice will suffice.