Alongside tight hips, people notoriously have tight shoulders and neck. And it’s no wonder as to why because of yet again, all the damn sitting we do. And bad posture doesn’t do us well either.
So what happens and what’s the big deal? Our culture is so often in a forward leaning position – due to our jobs (sitting or standing), how we exercise and how we use our phones – among other things, of course. What this is doing to our bodies is by constantly pulling at the muscles in the upper back and putting strain on our necks (aka ‘text neck’). We end up with a tight back and a weak core. And ain’t nobody got time for that!
To help combat our tight upper backs, we don’t continue stretching our back (which can seem counterintuitive!), we move in the opposite direction to bring mobility into the spine. This helps keep the mobility in the spine so you can continue to feel good!
We don’t dive into more core strength here, but if you’re interested, check out this post here!
Find a prop that can be placed length-wise underneath the spine – this could be a folded pillow, a bolster, a blanket, etc. Something that can gently bend the spine backwards. Bring the short edge of the prop underneath the belly-button and roll over the rest of the spine to open the chest. Roll the shoulders more open as it feels good. Arms and legs can come to wherever is comfortable. Stay here for at least five breaths to get centered and to begin opening the front body.
Child’s Pose with Bound Hands
Rolling over from support savasana into a child’s pose, bring the hands down by the hips. Interlace the fingers at the low back. Inhale as you lift the arms towards the sky. Bringing the heels of the hands together for a deeper stretch. Exhale to release and switch to the opposite pinky on top.
Coming up from from child’s pose, bring the hips over the knees and reach the arms out long. Bring the chest towards the ground and either bring the forehead or the chin to the ground. Bringing the chin to the ground will be a deeper stretch. Pause here for five breaths.
Releasing down onto the belly and bring the arms down by the hips. Bend at the knees and grab the outside of the ankles. If this isn’t available, use a strap or scarf to wrap around the shins and grab the two sides of the strap/scarf instead. Inhale and begin to peel the chest off the ground, rising the head, and kick the feet into the hands to raise both the chest and legs. Hold here for three breaths and repeat two to three times.
Seated Neck Stretches with Arm Extension
Coming up from the belly and sit either on the heels on in a cross-legged position. Exhale and drop the chin to the chest, lengthening the back of the neck. Inhale come back up, and exhale to drop the head behind you. Inhale come back to center. Gently drop the right ear towards the right shoulder, then raise the left arm, flexing at the wrist to bring the fingers pointing the sky. You’ll feel the stretch all the way through your hand and arm, and of course deepen through the neck. Stay on this side for five breaths before switching to the opposite side.
Seated Supine Twist
Staying in a seated position, bring the spine to a neutral position. Inhale to raise the arms up, keeping the shoulders soft, and begin to twist to bring the left hand to the right knee and the right arm behind the back. Gaze comes over the right shoulder. Exhale to deepen the twist if it feels good on the spine. Hold on each side for five breaths.
Coming back to neutral from the seated supine twist, and sit on the heels keeping the toes either flat or curled under. Lifting up the hips slightly and wrap the hands around the heels. Tuck the chin into the chest, rounding the spine. Gently drop the crown of the head just beyond the knees. Inhale and lift the hips to deepen the stretch throughout the back. Hold for three breaths and repeat three times.