5. Shoulder Shrug – 10 repetitions
- Begin in a comfortable seated position with back straight and head in line with your shoulders, your arms resting by your sides.
- Inhale and lift both shoulders up toward your ears. Exhale and return them straight down, feeling the shoulder blades settle in your back.
Tip: This stretch strengthens and releases upper back muscles.
6. Kneeling Arm Circle – 3-5 repetitions per arm
- Begin in a high kneeling position or seated on a chair with your spine straight and head centered between your shoulders, arms by your sides with palms facing in.
- Inhale and reach your left arm straight up to the ceiling and pause.
- Exhale and rotate your palm away from your body and circle your arm behind you until it reaches your side, with palm facing out and pinky forward. Inhale and reverse the circle, stretching your arm behind you and up to the ceiling. Pause.
- Exhale, rotate your palm back in toward the body, stretch your arm forward and return to the start position.
Tip: Keep your head, neck, and hips relaxed to target your shoulders in this exercise. Reach for as big a stretch as you can throughout the circle.
7. Wing Span – 2 minutes’ duration
- Begin in a high kneeling position or seated on a chair with your spine straight and head centered between your shoulders, arms stretched directly out to the sides at shoulder height, palms forward. Inhale to prepare.
- With one long exhale, reach your right arm up overhead, palm forward and your left arm down by your hip, palm back.
- Bend your elbows and reach your hands behind you to meet at the center of your back. Touch your fingers together if you can.
- Hold for a full inhale and exhale. Inhale again and return to the starting position.
- Exhale and repeat on the other side. Continue, slowly alternating between each position.
Tip: If you can’t touch your fingertips, with practice you’ll be able to!
8. Scapula Slide – 10-15 repetitions
- Begin on hands and knees on the floor with your wrists directly in line with your shoulders and your knees in line with your hips. Keep back flat and straight.
- Pressing firmly into your palms and fingertips to feel the engagement through your mid-back and keeping elbows straight, inhale and slide the shoulder blades (scapulas) together. It will feel like your chest is lowering to the floor).
- Exhale, pressing into the hands, and return to the starting position.
Tip: Keep your elbows straight! If this is too challenging to do on all fours, stand up and place your hands against a wall to perform the exercise.
9. Neck Retraction – 6-8 repetitions
- Begin lying on your back with knees bent, arms at your sides, and looking at the ceiling.
- Inhale and gently push your chin up toward the ceiling, keeping the back of your head on the floor.
- Exhale and return your chin toward your throat. You’ll feel the back of your neck lengthen.
Tip: Don’t try to jut the chin forward too much, just enough to feel the pull. Focus on lengthening your neck against the floor during the retraction phase.
Neck and shoulder pain don’t have to be lifelong conditions. With these simple exercises, you can loosen constriction while gaining flexibility and strength. If you have poor posture, start to pay attention to how you stand and sit, keeping your body in proper alignment to reduce strain on muscle and fascia.