Shoulders, Neck and Upper Back Exercises

Shoulder and Neck Exercises

Shoulder and neck exercises are typically practiced by those who suffer from shoulder and neck muscles tension. This mostly occurs by sitting in front of the computer or in the same position for extended periods of time.

One of the shoulder and chin exercises involves rolling and stretching that particular area of the body so as to gain relief and also get rid of the pain completely.


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This is one of the shoulder and neck exercises helps loosen the tension in the shoulders and the neck and is also one of the effective shoulder and back exercises that help in stretching the spine and gives suppleness and flexibility to the upper shoulder and neck area.

One of the effective shoulder and neck stretches involves sitting straight on a chair or standing upright with the feet kept slightly apart and the knees slightly bent. One should then relax their shoulders in such a manner that it should feel that the shoulders are sinking into the ground. The body should be relaxed and the back straight, keeping the tummy in. Thereafter one should stretch their neck upwards carefully and slowly while the chin should be lowered till it touches the chest. While doing so one should remember to let the jaw relax and hang loosely. This should be followed by relaxing the shoulders and trying to hold them slightly backward as far as possible. Some of the other shoulder and neck exercises include a neck stretch, head forwards stretch, anterior deltoid stretch and the shoulder stretch. The anterior deltoid stretch is a wonderful exercise for the front portion of one's shoulders. This is one of the shoulder and back exercises that allows the participant to raise their arms to the front. On the other hand the lateral deltoid allows the participant to raise their arms to the side whereas the posterior deltoid allows the participant to rotate their arms to the right. Similarly the head forwards stretch is one of the effective shoulder and neck exercises that helps one retain their flexibility and also a range of motion as ones age advances. One should be careful while taking up any shoulder and neck exercises especially stretching exercises as the stretches should be performed in the correct manner so as to avoid any strain or pulls. The single shoulder and neck exercises are a combination neck stretch and side bend exercises that are ideally practised using a shrug. The motion of the shoulder shrug as well as the depression is known to be effective in relieving neck and shoulder muscle tension. Bringing the head to the side will be helpful in stretching the neck out and relieve the pressure from the neck and the shoulders. The shoulder and neck exercises can be practised both standing and sitting. While practising the shoulder and neck exercises one should keep in mind that the motions should be slow, smooth and controlled and there should be no neck discomfort or pain experienced. If the individual starts feeling dizzy during the exercises then they should not tilt their head too much.

The above are the areas where a lot of tension is created. With some exercises mentioned below, you can relieve tension created by continuous typing, reading and writing. When you feel that your neck is tense, tight and aching, move it with utmost care, as your neck is a delicate organ. You can start with a warm up of nearby muscles, which involves few movements of the shoulder.

The Shoulder Sit in a good, normal manner and move your shoulders in a circular manner forwards a few times. This is to be followed by single shoulder at a time and finally together. Let your hands and arms be floppy.

Shoulder Lifting And Squeezing

  1. Lift your shoulders slowly and inhale. Then draw your shoulders towards your ears in upward direction.
  2. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you draw them back and exhale. Pull back your shoulder blades together as you draw them back and exhale. Pull back your shoulder blades back in a tight manner. As if you were trying to make them meet in the middle.
  3. Draw your shoulders firmly but slowly, keeping them slightly back and away from the ears. Notice that space is created between your shoulders and your ears. Imagine that your hands are weighed down by heavy suitcase in each hand.
  4. Repeat this exercise four to five times and you will probably start feeling better. You can even repeat this exercise a number of times till you feel the need to.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

  1. Sit down at seat level and interlock your fingers behind you, arms should be relaxed and elbows bent.
  2. Now, slowly draw your elbows towards each other as you exhale, squeezing your shoulders blades together firmly.
  3. As you release the squeeze, start inhaling.
  4. Work in a slow and rhythmic manner, synchronizing your movement with your breath. Repeat this a number of times.

Arm Rotations

  1. Place tip of your fingers on your shoulders.
  2. Bring your elbows together in front of your chest as you inhale. Keep them together as long as possible and lift them as high as you can.
  3. Take them back and begin to lower them behind you.
  4. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, lower your elbows as far as possible and then bring them forward together as you exhale.
  5. Continue to breathe and move in this manner, then co-ordinate your movement with your breath making big circular movements with your elbows.
  6. Now, you can continue the movement in the opposite direction. Move your elbows back and up, behind you and out as you bring them down in front while you inhale.

    When you do this your entire upper body especially your upper back and shoulders are relieved of tension. You even start breathing deep and full, as chest is open.

When you exercise like this a number of times, you will feel that your energy is restored and breath is stimulated. This exercise provides you full vigor.

The Neck

Head turning

This exercise can be performed singly or can be practiced before performing stronger stretches. It will calm your mind and improves concentration besides, reducing the tension in your neck. Synchronize your movement with your breath and perform the movements slowly and with alertness. Movement of the eyes, should be followed, by that of the head.

  1. Look in the front and then gradually upward towards the ceiling, while you inhale. Tip your head in backward direction gently as far as you are comfortable.
  2. Lift your head to the normal position and slowly bend it forward as you exhale. Aim to touch the notch in your throat with your chin.
  3. You can repeat this procedure twice.
  4. Slowly look over your right shoulder. Keep your chin level and let your head follow your eyes as you exhale.
  5. Look to the front as you inhale.
  6. Look slowly over your left shoulder as you exhale.
  7. Look to the front as you inhale.
  8. You can repeat this exercise twice more on each side.

These exercises initiate the gentle stretching and lengthening of the muscles of the throat, the neck and the upper back, without strain. This is followed by stronger stretches.

Stretching your neck: lowering head forwards

  1. Sit in the required, basic position. Let your arms hang loosely from the sides. Keep your shoulders relaxed and lengthen your spine by lifting up out of your pelvis.
  2. Now, tuck in your chin as you exhale and slowly lower your head and try to touch the notch in your throat, with your chin. Continue this position till your head starts becoming heavy and your neck is elongated you are breathing freely.
  3. If you want to go in for some stronger stretch, interlock your fingers behind your head, resting your palms gently and allow your elbows to drop on either side of your face. Now, using the gentle pressure of your arms and hands, increase the stretch. Discontinue and take off your hands if the stretch is too strong for you.
  4. For a few moments stay in the chosen position. Breathe freely and see that you will sink into the stretch further with each out breath. At this juncture, provide a chance for your head, arms, shoulders, neck and spine to soften. You can come out of this stretch by lowering your arms, lifting your head and breathing freely. To finish this, circle your shoulders backwards a few times.

Stretching your neck: lowering head diagonally

  1. Be seated in the basic position. Anchor your left hand a little behind you, under your chair.
  2. See that you face your right knee by turning your head a quarter turn to the right.
  3. Tuck in your chin. Slowly lower your head towards your knee as you exhale. A stretch will be felt between the base of your skull on the left and your left shoulder.

    You can increase the stretch further by lifting your right hand up and above your head. Place this hand just behind and above your left ear. Your right knee should be in line with your left knee.

    Maintain this position. Breathe freely, slowly more deeply into the stretch on each out breath.

    You can come out of the stretch by slowly lifting your head and lowering your arm while inhaling. Then you can see in the front by turning.

    This exercise can be repeated on the other side. By circling your shoulder backwards several times you can finish this.

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