You’re not alone if you have somewhat rounded shoulders. Your desk, chair, and car all provide a comfortable place to sit, but they enhance a tendency to slouch forward in a C-curve. In ancient times, this was a protective posture that decreased the target area ofyour vital organs. Unfortunately, if this position is held too long, it leads to overstretched back muscles, potentially causing pain.
You can counter this position by elongating the front of your body. This shortens back muscles and gives them a chance to relax. It also releases shoulder tension and can offer more space for the lungs so we can breathe more deeply. You really need to do this important stretch EVERY DAY.
Roll a thick blanket or towel or use a foam roller, or even a pool noodle from the dollar store as a support. The noodle can be cut into thirds allowing you to keep one at your desk, in your car, and at home. Lie down face up, with the bolster behind your ribs where your bra strap is (sorry, men, I couldn’t think of another reference point). You can adjust it as long as it’s behind your upper back, not lower. You can also turn it 90 degrees so it runs along your spine. You may need a different spot each day.
Feel free to bend your knees and place both feet on the floor if you have lower back tension. You can place your arms overhead or down by your side. Most importantly, stay there for at least two full minutes. Enjoy the effect of melting into the floor. I like this stretch best at the end of the day, but there is no right or wrong way to do this stretch.
Spring can bring a host of outdoor activities such as lawn and garden cleanup. You may want to add some exercises now to your weekly routine. This will get your muscles ready and may prevent soreness which will keep you from needing a massage. It’s always more enjoyable to get a massage when you don’t hurt.
Did you know that improving your balance also reduces your risk of tripping or falling?
These exercises help strengthen the muscles that improve your balance. As you practice them, try to increase the time that you hold each pose. If you breathe deeply while staying in position, you pass the time and relax easier.
Stand on one foot.
Sit down and stand up without using your hands.
While holding onto the back of a chair, bend your knees slightly and lift your heels up and down slowly at least 10 times.
Sit in a kitchen chair and extend one leg out in front of you. Lower your leg and repeat 10 times with each leg.
Walking, swimming, and practicing tai chi are other ways to improve your balance, strength, and endurance.
But a little chocolate, a massage and a great night’s sleep doesn’t hurt.
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It may be from using your cell phone.
When you’re looking at your cell phone screen, most of the time you’re looking down at a 45 degree angle. If you’re using one hand to make a motion like swiping, you’re adding an additional stressor on your neck. This is the equivalent of putting an extra 50 pounds of pressure on your spine.
The muscles from your fingers are connected to the muscles of your shoulder and neck like links on a chain. The muscle that feels the pain is the weakest muscle in the chain, which is usually your neck.
To prevent this, hold your phone at eye level. If you’re sitting down, you can use pillows or someting else on your lap to support your arm while raising your phone. You can also use voice commands instead of typing or ear buds when talking so you’re holding your phone less.
Are you ready to give up and live with those aches and pains? There’s one more thing you can try at home that can make a huge difference in how you feel.
downward dog pose
Stretching first thing in the morning and just before bed can ease your body enough to help you be happier, more productive, and get a good night’s sleep. Keeping muscles tight takes up a lot of your physical and mental energy.
I like to do the downward dog yoga pose followed by the rag doll in the morning. It elongates my spine and loosens up tension in my neck and between my shoulder blades. Then, at night, I’ll stay in the legs up the wall pose for 5 minutes to release back tension and soothe my nervous system.
If you’d like help finding the right stretches for your problem areas, just give me a call, text, or send an email.
December can be stressful. Here are a few easy, inexpensive ways to relax:
Pour a handful of Epsom salts in a plastic tub with hot tap water. Soak your feet for 15-20 minutes. You’l also absorb some magnesium which calms your nervous system
Place plain, inexpensive rice in a cloth bag (or pillowcase) and close the end. Microwave until the rice is warm, but not too hot. Place it around your neck, on your lower back, or wherever you need it.
Lay as flat as you can (I prefer on the floor). Take at least three slow, deep breaths and extend the exhale so you fully release your breath. I find that my neck and back relax more when laying flat. In this position, gravity is helping you roll your shoulders back too.
No, this isn’t a picture of a robbery. It’s a great exercise that not only relieves your shoulder pain, it strengthens your muscles to prevent further pain.
All that’s required for a proper wall angel is a stretch of empty wall. Put your back against the wall with your heels touching and your elbows at 90 degrees. If your heels don’t reach the wall yet, that’s ok. Focus instead on making sure your hips, spine, and shoulder blades are pressed into the wall. It doesn’t matter if your knees are bent or not.
Begin to straighten your arms directly overhead, trying to at least keep the elbows sliding up against the wall. As you get stronger and looser, your forearms and the back of your hands will be able to stay in contact with the wall as well.
If you want to be an over-achiever, pull your bellybutton into the wall to tighten your abdomen. This also helps keep your spine against the wall.
Lift and lower your arms five times at your own pace. Going slowly may help you more. Try this once or even twice a day and I bet you’ll feel better in a hurry. I’m amazed at what a difference it’s done for me and I’ve only been using this exercise for a few days. Buy Instant Gift Certificates
This pose is exactly what it sounds like. From the photo you can also see that you can do this pose anywhere, anytime. Don’t worry too much about how close you get to the wall or how straight your legs are. You really can’t do this wrong. The most important thing is to stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes.
You’ll notice fairly quickly that you feel calmer. Having your feet above your head is very soothing. This is a great pose to do right before you go to bed.
Gravity will gently roll your shoulders towards your back. We’re in this together since we all have the same issue of hunching forward too much.
This should relieve discomfort in your back. If it doesn’t, put a soft mat under your body.