The most common complaint that brings people into the studio is shoulder or upper back pain. Whether due long hours at a desk, poor posture, stress or running after a toddler, it’s usually at the top of the list of ailments when I ask a guest what they’d like to work on.
These stretches help relieve tension, improve flexibility, and reduce discomfort in the upper back. Remember to hold each stretch for about 20-30 seconds and breathe deeply to enhance the stretch and relaxation.
1. Shoulder Rolls
How-to: Sit or stand comfortably, keeping your spine straight.
Action: Roll your shoulders in a circular motion, first forward for 10 repetitions and then backward for another 10 repetitions.
Benefits: This simple movement helps loosen up the muscles surrounding the shoulders, easing tension and enhancing mobility.
2. Upper Trapezius Stretch
How-to: While sitting or standing, gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder.
Action: Use your hand on the same side to gently apply light pressure on the opposite side of your head, increasing the stretch.
Benefits: Targets the upper trapezius muscles, releasing tension that commonly builds up from stress and poor posture.
3. Doorway Stretch
How-to: Stand in a doorway and place your hands on the door frame at shoulder level.
Action: Lean forward through the doorway, allowing your chest to open up and stretching the front of your shoulders.
Benefits: Stretches the chest and front shoulder muscles, counteracting the hunched position many of us adopt while working on computers.
4. Thread the Needle Stretch
How-to: Start on all fours in a tabletop position.
Action: Reach one arm under your body and across, sliding the shoulder and temple down toward the ground until you feel a stretch in the upper back.
Benefits: Targets the muscles between the shoulder blades, helping to release tension and improve flexibility.
5. Eagle Arms Stretch
How-to: Sit or stand tall, then extend your arms straight in front of you at shoulder height.
Action: Cross one arm over the other, then bend at the elbows, wrapping your arms until your palms touch.
Benefits: Stretches the upper back and shoulders, enhancing circulation and relieving tightness.
-Avoid bouncing while stretching, as it can cause injury.
-Listen to your body and never force a stretch beyond what feels comfortable.
-Incorporating these stretches into your daily routine can significantly reduce upper back and shoulder pain.
*If you're experiencing persistent discomfort or severe pain, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a licensed massage therapist for personalized guidance.