We may not always have time for a massage session, but there are other ways to fit in some at-home pampering! For instance, we can perform massages on our loved ones or on ourselves! Rachel Beider, the proud owner of PRESS Modern Massage, wrote a great book for learning how to give an enjoyable therapeutic massage to family members, friends, or oneself.
Stretching is also a great way to promote muscle tension and may substitute a massage when need be. According to Harvard Health Publishing, stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
Here are 9 exercises provided by Bright Side to make your neck, shoulders, and back feel better. You’ll just need 10 minutes of free time and a gym mat.
This exercise stretches the muscle that wraps from your sternum and collarbone to behind your ear.
- Straighten up, with the upper part of body relaxed. Slowly turn your head to the right side until your chin is over your shoulder and parallel to the floor.
- In this position, tip your chin downward toward your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise on the other side. For a better effect, slightly hold your head with your right or a left hand respectively.
This exercise stretches the neck and the upper part of the back.
- In a seated position (on the floor or in a chair), keep your back straight and ground your hips into your seat.
- Bend your arms at your elbows and put your palms on the back of your head just above your neck. In this position, tuck your chin to your chest.
- Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly lift your head up and release your hands. You can also apply some pressure by actively pulling your head down with your palms.
This exercise stretches the back of the shoulders (deltoids) and the upper part of the back.
- Reach your arms out to each side and then cross them in front of you, left elbow over the right elbow and hands pointing toward the sky.
- If you can’t wrap your wrists so that your palms meet, place each hand on the opposite shoulder instead and tuck your chin toward your chest. Lift your elbows so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise after changing the position of your hands.
This exercise stretches your deltoids and pectoral muscles.
- Stand in a doorway, hold your arms up so your elbows are at a 90º angle and your arms form a 90º angle to your body at the shoulder.
- Straighten your back and step with one foot forward. Lean forward.
- Hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.
Upper Back Stretching
This exercise stretches the back and the trapezius muscles.
- Lift your right hand and straighten it up over your head. Bend your elbow so that your right-hand touches your upper back.
- Place the left hand on the right elbow and gently pull the right arm to the left. Then bend the body in a straight line to the left (making sure to not lean forward or backward.)
- Hold this stretch for 20–30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
This exercise stretches your back and chest muscles.
- Place your palms face down on your shoulders (left palm on left shoulder and right palm on right shoulder). Pull your elbows back as if you were trying to touch them together until you feel a deep stretch throughout your upper back.
- Hold for 5-10 seconds.
- Then pull your elbows forward and touch them together in front of your body. Hold for 5-10 more seconds.
Lower Back Stretching
This exercise works on your back muscles, abs, and leg muscles.
- Stand near the wall, lean into it until your spine is flat against it.
- Slide down the wall slowly until your knees are bent at a 90º angle.
- Hold for 10 seconds, then return to the starting position. Repeat 8-12 times.
This exercise works on the back and the core muscles.
- Sit on a chair, keeping your feet flat on the floor. Twist at the core to the right, keeping your hips square and your spine tall. Place your hands behind your head.
- You can place your left hand on your right knee or your right hand on your left knee. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat the exercise, twisting to left or right. Repeat 3-5 times.
This exercise works on your back extensors.
- Lie down on the mat and stretch both arms out in front of you. Then raise both your hands and your feet.
- Try to pull in your belly button to engage your other muscles.
- Keep the head and arms straight. Hold for 2 seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.
Illustrated by Marat Nugumanov for Bright Side. See the original post here.