The second post in the TMST series comes from my pal Sally, a Classical Pilates instructor, mom, wife and pen pal coordinator (seriously, she's the girl behind our pen pal brigade I talk about on the blog + Instagram). Her blog, forwardfromtheheart, is my go-to when I'm in need of a dose of wellness + warmth. Today, Sally teaches us how to properly stretch the neck, in order to increase flexibility + to decrease stress.
Every couple of months I tend to get a stiff/sore neck. Not just a little ache, but the kind of pain that keeps me from looking fully from side to side, hurts terribly when I go to do little chores like unload the dishwasher (sorry, hubsy!) and makes teaching quite tedious. Massage therapists and Physical Therapists have worked on my neck, always exclaiming how many knots I have, and calling other PT's in to "show me off." Because of this I try to be kind to my neck and add lots of stretches throughout the day. In addition to this, as a Pilates instructor, I meet and talk with people of every age that talk about having neck problems. Neck flexibility is also one of the first things older individuals say they lose and are trying to get back.
Think of your daily activities...sitting in a car, sitting at a desk, looking down at a phone, book, or game system. All of these put a stress on the muscles that support your head. Here is a quick, easy stretch that I think EVERYONE should do. You can do it seated or standing, once a day or a couple times throughout the day. Pair this with my chest-opening stretch for an energizing yet de-stressing pick-me-up :)
Step One: Relax your head, neck and shoulders. Gently tilt your head to the left, like you are placing your ear to your shoulder. You will feel a stretch on the opposite, right, side of your neck. It should be a gentle stretch, not painful or pulling. Hold for 20 seconds.
Step Two: Keep the "ear to shoulder" form and then turn your gaze down, like you are looking in to your back left pocket. This stretch continues to help stretch the neck muscles and now adds the stretch all the way towards the base of the skull, relieving tension from that area. Hold for 20 seconds. First lift your gaze forward and the return your head to the center.
Repeat on the right side.
Trainer's Tips:- Take deep, even breaths while you are doing the stretches.
- This is a two-part stretch, not two separate stretches. Ear to shoulder, then, holding that position, turn your gaze gently downward and hold. Then turn your head gently upward, returning to the ear-to-shoulder position, then return upright.
- If the stretch hurts, ease up a bit.
- Try to do this once a day, moving towards three times, morning, afternoon and evening.
Let me know what you think!
Check out more of Sally's fantastic feel-good posts over at forwardfromtheheart.