August is the month when I feel the need to squeeze in a last-minute vacation. And while getting away might be relaxing, sometimes the planning and details are not. Stress for me goes straight to my neck and shoulders, making them stiff and sore. Staring at a computer all day certainly doesn't help. To help relieve some of my last Summer stress, I like to give myself a little shoulder massage. I have a little routine I like to do help release this area, and to learn it, just
- Inhale, lifting your shoulders toward your ears, taking three slow counts to raise them. Exhale and just let your shoulders fall. It is ever-so-nice to just give in to gravity once in a while. Repeat five times.
- Gently lower your right ear toward your right shoulder, then slowly switch sides. Don't hang in any one position for too long, this isn't really a stretch — super-tense neck muscles don't like to be stretched. Just try to get your stiff and tense neck moving around. Repeat five times on each side.
- Exhale and squeeze your shoulder blades together by pulling bent elbows toward each other behind your back. This might feel like you are doing the funky chicken, but it is a great move for opening your chest.
- Nod your chin toward your chest, taking three slow counts to do so. Really isolate the movement so just the neck is moving; don't round the upper back. This move provides a stretch for the muscles in the back of the neck. Repeat three to five times.
- Take your left hand to your right, really tighten the muscle between your neck and shoulder joint (the upper trapezius), and squeeze the muscle like a sponge. Squeeze all the tension out. Repeat five times.
Still feeling stressed? Check out these tips for more ways to relax.