Stretching has proven to be helpful for all types of muscle and joint stiffness and soreness.
When adopting a new stretching regime, go slow. You should feel the stretches, but they shouldn’t be overly painful. If the feeling of mild strain escalates to something that feels more like pain, ease up on the stretch to prevent further injury.
We recommend holding each stretch for 30 seconds up to one minute. Remember to take slow, deep breaths while stretching. Breathe in through the nose and either exhale through the nose or out of the mouth.
Begin seated in a neutral position. Then retract your chin backward. Then go back to neutral. You’ll feel a contraction in the back of your neck. Each time you retract, you’ll feel a tightening sensation in the front of the neck muscles and a corresponding stretch at the base of the head.
This exercise is particularly useful for opening up the shoulders. Start seated, either cross-legged or on your heels. Extend both arms out in front of you. They should be parallel to the floor, palms facing down. Keeping your arms straight, cross your right arm underneath your left at the elbow area. Slowly, wrap your hands around each other. Touch your palms together. Allow your elbows to drop down and keep your eyes on your fingers in front of you.
You’ll feel a refreshing stretch in the upper part of your back and between your shoulder blades. After about six to eight breaths, raise your shoulders slightly and feel the stretch move to the middle of your back.
Supposedly, this stretch got its name because the position your body is in at the end of the stretch resembles the shape of a cow’s face, so don’t take this name personally.
To begin, sit with your legs stretched out in front of you. Then, bend your knees, drawing your feet closer to your body. Slide your right leg under your left, bringing your right foot back toward your left hip. The next step is drawing your left foot to your right hip, stacking your left knee directly on top of your right. It is like a modified cross-legged position.
If this seated position is uncomfortable, you can modify it by sitting on your heels.
The next step is to raise your left arm into the air, bend it at the elbow and reach down along your head down your back. At the same time, reach behind you with your right arm, and bend it up at the elbow so that your right forearm is against your spine and that same hand is resting between your shoulder blades.
Then, interlock the fingers of each hand together, but only if that range of motion is available to you. If your fingers can’t quite reach other, use a strap, belt or towel, gripping it with each hand. Finally, bend forward, bringing your chest down to your knees. Repeat the pose on the other side after holding for 30 seconds to one minute.
Standing Wall Stretch
Begin by facing a wall, standing about 12 inches away from it. Raise your arms above your head and place the palms flat against the wall. Hinge forward slightly, bending at the knees.
Shoulder Blade Stretch
Stand with your feet hip-width distance apart. Raise your arms above your head and face the palms to touch. Then slowly twist to the right, feeling a deep stretch in the back of your right shoulder. Hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
Begin by lying face down on your stomach. Place your right hand on the floor near your chest and push yourself up slightly. Shift your left arm underneath your chest, and then rest your weight back down. Do this gently, especially if you’re putting weight on a sore shoulder. Hold for a handful of breaths and then switch sides.
Triangle pose helps strengthen the neck muscles. Since these muscles are connected to the shoulders, strengthening them can help with pain and prevent further injury.
To begin, stand up with your legs wide apart. Stretch your arms out to each side. They should be parallel to the floor. Rotate your right foot to the front of the room and face the same direction as your head. Slowly hinge forward toward the front the room. Keep your arms in the same outward stretched position, and you’ll notice that your right hand will drop to meet your right ankle.
Depending on what is comfortable, you can choose to look up or down.