Neck and Shoulder Exercises
We carry the world on your shoulders and something the size and weight of a bowling ball on top of our necks. It is not surprising that we all get a little stiff and sore now and then, no matter what age we are.
The neck and shoulders take a lot of physical stress and abuse, turning this way and that, nodding, bobbing, jerking, lifting, hunching and straining all day long. In fact, neck and shoulder problems are among the most common injuries. In addition to physical injury, we manifest a lot of the effects of stress and tension in our necks and shoulders.
Be careful when working with your neck and shoulders. Move slowly and deliberately. Pay attention to which muscles are being used. Never go beyond your edge of comfort. This isn't a workout, test or competition. Always start your exercises slowly—and in the order marked—to allow muscles to loosen up gradually. Heat treatments such as a warm bath, warm towel, or heating pad just before you start can help relax tight muscles. Follow the instructions carefully; it will be well worth the effort.
Head Turn: Stand or sit erect with chin tucked in close to chest. Turn head slowly to right, trying to bring your chin over to your right shoulder. Hold for three seconds; rotate head back to center position. Pause. Repeat in opposite direction.
Head Nod: Push chin downward, trying to touch it to your chest, without causing too much strain. Pause. Slowly lift head backward as far as possible without straining. Pause. Repeat 5 times
Side-to-Side: Bend your head slightly to the right, trying to bring your right ear to your right shoulder. Pause. Return slowly to center position. Repeat in opposite direction. Repeat sequences 5 times.
Head Roll: Roll your head clockwise in as wide a circle as possible (up, to the right, down, to the left) for three complete circles. Do the same in the opposite direction (Counterclockwise). Pause. Repeat 3 times
Shoulder shrug: Stand erect, arms held loosely at sides. Breath deeply as you lift your shoulders first as high and then as far back as they will move. Breathe out as you lower your shoulders to the starting position and relax. Repeat 20 times, at least twice a day. Build up this routine to 50 times, twice a day.
Upper back stretch: Sit erect. Place hands on shoulders. Try to cross your elbows by bringing your right arm to the left and your left arm to the right, until you feel the stretch across your upper back. Return to starting position, drop your hands and relax. Repeat 10 times.
Pendular exercise: Hold a 1-to 2-pound weight (a can of soup or jar of peanut butter works just fine) in your hand. Bending knees slightly, bend forward at waist and hold onto a table with your other hand. Allow your arm to dangle freely. (A) Swing arm laterally across your body (to the right and left) for 1 minute, keeping your elbow perfectly straight. (B) Then swing arm backward and forward for 1 minute. (C) Then Swing arm in a gradually increasing circle clockwise for 1 minute. (D) and finally repeat (C) counterclockwise.
Climbing-the-wall exercise: Face the wall. Keeping your elbow straight, "walk" your fingers up the wall as high as you can go. (Do not shrug or hunch your shoulder or tilt the upper part of your body.) Repeat 10 times, each time trying to "walk" a little higher. Turn your body slightly and repeat 10 times. Continue gradually turning your body and repeating the exercise until you are at a right angle to the wall. Perform this exercise for 10 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day.
Resisted flexion (neck): Stand or sit erect. Place one hand on top of the other on your forehead. Push your head forward against the heel of your hand, without moving your head. Hold for a count of 10 (approx. 7 seconds). Relax. Repeat 3 times.
Resisted extension (neck): Stand or sit erect. Clasp your hands behind your head—not your neck. Push your head backward against the resisting hands, without moving your head. Hold for a count of 10 (approx. 7 seconds). Relax. Repeat 3 times