What your Massage Therapist Recommends for Neck and Shoulder Tightness.
As remedial massage and myotherapists we spend our time 'neck deep' (pardon the pun!) in upper back, neck and shoulder tightness! Here are 5 simple things you can do to help look after your neck and prevent it from tightening up.
Introducing the Rhino Manoeuver!
Check your posture while holding your phone
Interestingly when working with sports teams this is something that comes up quite often. We find when the athletes have more down-time, such as in a competition they spend more time on their phones and we see an increase and neck and shoulder tightness as a result.
One of the theories behind this is that if you are constantly looking down at your phone for long periods of time (for example - on the commute to and from work or when you are at home and find yourself down the Instagram rabbit hole) the position that we hold our head for that period of time can be contributing to our neck and shoulders tightness. So you have a couple of options.
1. Stop spending so much time staring at your phone
2. Bring the phone closer to eye level to keep your head and neck in a better position.
3. Lie on your side or your back with your head supported to avoid tightening up through the area.
Shift your Mindset about Good Posture
As massage therapists we often notice that when we talk to clients about posture they instantly drop their shoulders down and back. We have to change this mindset. By pulling your shoulders down you lengthen your traps too much and engage your lats (the muscles on either side of your back). Instead think about drawing your shoulder blades towards each other.
You want your upper traps to be in a neutral position and by engaging your middle and lower traps you can keep your shoulder blades against your body. This will help to avoid overloading your upper traps whilst maintaining excellent posture.
Simple Neck Stretches for the Workplace
Chin to chest stretching in a really simple way to loosen up through your neck at work. Grab the back of your head with both hands and draw your chin to your chest slowly. You can even curl a little through your upper back to get into those upper thoracic vertebrae and associated muscles that tend to tighten up. Hold for 30 seconds and do it 2 or 3 times.
Chin to arm pit stretching loosens up though muscle called your Levator Scapulae. It is notorious for making you feel uncomfortable through your neck and shoulders. Drop your chin to your chest and turn your chin towards your right armpit. Using your left hand grab onto the back of your head on the right hand-side. Try to draw your head diagonally forward to the left, away from your body. You should feel the stretch on the righthand side of your neck and upper shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 2 - 3 times.
Set yourself reminders
This one is really simple but incredibly powerful. Either download a reminder app or set up some reminders in your phone to check your posture. The reminders may be to check your overall posture, your head position while using the phone, or to get up and move around from your desk. Create a system that works for you because life gets busy and we need all the help we can get.
We hope these little tips and tricks help to keep that neck and shoulder tightness at bay. If you are finding that you can't seem to get things to loosen up on your own it might be worth getting a massage or myotherapy session to help decrease that tightness and work out why it is there in the first place. Check out our page on all of our recommend neck and shoulder self massage and stretching techniques.