The more problems we have with our muscles, the less likely we are to exercise. Sadly, tight shoulder and neck muscles are very common. I am sure almost all of us must have had them at some point. It’s particularly common when we overexert ourselves or we’re stressed.
The tightness can extend to the upper back, arms and neck and sometimes, headaches can develop from the tight muscles in the neck. Tightness of the neck and shoulder muscles affect people in various ways. For example, sitting at a desk for long periods of time, from working out, or from overhead activities such as swimming or playing tennis.
The muscle concerned is the Trapezius Muscle. When this muscle is tight, it can affect the entire body, as well as the neck, shoulders and upper back. Thankfully it is rarely serious enough to require medical attention, but they can affect our overall well-being.
The guidelines below will help you to deal with these tight muscles on your own.
Checking for Tightness
Every now and again throughout the day, check where your shoulders are. Ideally, your shoulders should be in line with your collarbone; not higher or pushed forward. You can check this by simply letting your shoulders ‘fall.’ You may realize you have them in a shrugged position too often.
To prevent muscles from tightening and to release tension, do shoulder shrugs. To do this pull your shoulders all the way to your ears, holding them there for a few seconds and then letting them fall to a relaxed position. You can also loosen your muscles by rolling your shoulders in both directions.
Place your hand on the shoulder you want to stretch to prevent it from moving up. The other hand should be on top of your head with your fingers pointing towards the back. Your neck should always remain inline with your back and the only body part that is moving is your head.
Gently pull your head forward with your chin toward your neck as if you’re nodding. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Then gently pull your head to the side, so your ear approaches the opposite shoulder. Switch sides.
Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Next gently pull your head diagonally forward so your chin approaches the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
Think about a massage or ‘Tennis-Ball’ your Traps
If you have the time and money, get a massage. This will relieve you from tension and make you feel a lot better. If you don’t have the budget or time to go for a massage then you can do it on your own. All you need is a wall and a tennis ball.
First, massage yourself by rolling the ball on your traps, with some pressure. You will feel how tight it is and there will likely be one spot that hurts the most. Wherever that spot is, stay there with your tennis ball and slightly push. Hold that for at least 90 seconds, or until you feel a release of tension.
If you feel the tightness on the back, more in your middle traps and between your shoulder blades, you won’t need to do yoga exercises to reach there with the tennis ball. Find a wall and lean against it with the tennis ball between and roll up and down.
Following these guidelines will help tight neck and shoulder muscles so you can get back to your daily activities. It’s important to build up on exercise so that you don’t add to your problems, particularly if you’re dealing with an injury.