Do you ever feel like you resemble one of those rubber band balls? Like you’re all twisted inward and your neck and shoulders are interwoven in a tight, ropey mess?
Looking at screens and staying in one position for a long time without breaks make this achy sensation all too common.
“When we are tight from lack of movement, your muscles can feel tight or stiff and you can experience poor posture,” Kelsey Decker, NSCA-CPT, the education coordinator for StretchLab, previously told Well+Good. That poor posture can only compound the tightness in a feedback loop of compression.
Unfortunately, not everyone has someone around to give them shoulder rubs on demand. Which is why a new shoulder mobilizing and neck relieving stretch series from Brian Spencer of East River Pilates—who describes the neck and shoulders as “two chronic sources of tension”—is just what’s called for.
Surprisingly, one key to lubricating this region is actually opening up your chest.
“Our pecs get really tight when we sit at our computers,” Spencer says. “Our head pulls forward and our shoulders draw together.” This shortens the muscles in your chest, which pull you inward on yourself even more.
To combat this, Spencer begins with some stretches laying face down on the mat. You’ll place your hands by your shoulders with bent elbows, and dip and twist to create space.
Moving into a seated position, it’s time to work on the neck. Massage increases blood flow to the region being worked, which relaxes the muscles. You are your own best masseuse for this series, because, as you press along the muscles in your neck, you can feel the spots of tension—where Spencer advises you to stay awhile.
“It is not gonna feel super comfy during, but it will feel really great after,” Spencer says. What a relief.