If you suffer from pain in your upper back, neck, and shoulders, and often get migraines or tension headaches from stress and your poor posture, take note of these three simple stretches which you can do in your own time to help reduce the pain and soreness.
These areas often suffer from pain due to the rounded posture we develop from sitting at a desk, or in a car, for many hours at a time. Think about it - you are hunched over for 10, 12 or even more hours a day - how is that going to affect your body?
Thankfully, with just 5 minutes a day of a focused stretching, you can alleviate your pain and enjoy better shoulder and upper body mobility and movement.
All you need to do is get hold of a long foam roller. (If you are in Auckland, New Zealand, get one from us today at The Active Lifestyle, 40 Mt Eden Road.)
Stretch 1. Lying on the foam foller.
Lie the foam roller flat on the floor.
Sit on the end of the foam roller, and lie back so that your head and spine is supported by the length of the foam roller.
Take a big deep breath, and lay your arms out to your sides reaching comfortably as far as you can.
You will probably feel a slight stretch in your chest muscles on the front of your body.
After 20 - 30 seconds, you can advance the stretch slightly.
Bend your elbows so that your arms are pointing upwards in the same line as your head. (Not upwards towards the ceiling). Try and relax your elbows down so that they touch the floor. The stretch at the front of your body going through your chest should intensify.
Lie here for 30 - 45 seconds and breathe deeply to help relax your chest muscles. Think about your chest relaxing and your arms and elbows touching the floor.
Total Time taken - 2 minutes
Stretch 2. Thoracic Extensions using the foam roller.
Position the foam roller on the floor, and sit down next to it as shown. Keep your knees bent so that you have some leverage to control your body and pull yourself back up.
Put your elbows by your sides - where your elbows touch the roller is a comfortable place to start.
The first time you run this sequence, put your hands across your chest. Take a big deep breath in, and as you exhale, open up 'over' the foam roller. When you have stretched as far as is comfortable, squeeze your abs and sit up again. Roll the foam roller up your back slightly so that it is a couple of inches higher up your body, towards your shoulder blades.
Breathe in, exhale and lie back over the foam roller. Go as far as is comfortable, before sitting back up and once again moving the roller up your body - you should now be at shoulder blade level. Once more, take a big deep breath, and as you exhale, lie back over the roller. Don't be surprised if you release your back and get a few loud clicks on the way.
Once you've done the three movements going up your back, return to the starting position and with your hands behind your head to support your neck, perform all three extensions again. Having your hands supporting your head should make the stretch smoother and allow you to really stretch your back. Make sure you breathe in a controlled manner and don't jerk or rush the motion, it should feel tight, but smooth.
Time Taken: 2 minutes.
It's really that simple. Most people underplay the importance that mobility has on their lives, but with this simple two stretch sequence you can seriously ease up your back and reduce your pain. Do it every day and you will really notice an improvement. I started doing it about 4 years ago - when I first started, I could barely get any movement at all. Now, I can rest my head on the floor when performing this stretch. The old adage, if you don't use it, you lose it, never rang any truer. Make sure you don't lose it.