5 STRETCHES TO RELIEVE SHOULDER AND NECK TENSION
Tennis has us working our upper body really hard which is why it's important to stretch after being on the court. However, tension in your neck and shoulders can still build up as there are multiple causes. In most cases, it's from too many hours staring at a screen, sat in the car and/or stress from daily life. When you can't get to a massage therapist, acupuncturist or a chiropractor for some professional tension relief here are five stretches you can do anytime throughout the day, that will help release any tension you might have in this area.
Shoulder rolls are great to start, they help lubricate the joint, and help increase mobility. We suggest doing eight forward and eight backwards. Really exaggerate the movement-lifting them up and around.
Chest Stretch With Hands Clasped Behind Back
This stretch is amazing for opening your chest, which can often get tight when at a computer or driving. We roll our shoulders forward usually without realizing, this stretch helps reverse that.
We advise holding for minimum 30 seconds, maximum one minute. You can also do a forward fold modification like pictured below.
We're not focusing on the hamstrings though, so place a deep bend in the knees as you draw your hands over head, relaxing the neck fully. Breathe through it again for a minimum of 30 seconds, maximum one minute.
Neck Stretch (side).
This is a great stretch because you can do it standing up or sitting down, you just need to make sure you're standing or sitting with good posture (pelvis not tucking or arching- tailbone lengthening down, lower abs engaged to keep pelvis in place and lengthening through the spine- as if there's a piece of string attached to the crown of your head and someone is pulling it upwards). From there gently place your hand on the side of your head and tilt your head to ones side. Note you are not pressing your head to the side, more so guiding it. With the opposite arm down by your side flex your wrist - engaging the arm to help find the stretch in your neck. Hold for 30 seconds (minimum), one minute (maximum) and then repeat on the other side.
Tree Hugger Stretch
This is great to get to the muscles behind your shoulder blades and stretch them out. Send you arms out in front of you like you're hugging a tree - make the tree a thick one in your imagination - one that your arms can't reach all around. Tuck your chin to your chest and you should feel the stretch right across your shoulder blades, and trapezius muscle. Sometimes when you're holding more tension than usual you could also feel it down your arms. Hold for a minimum of 30 seconds and a maximum of one minute.
This is amore common stretch- an "Oldie, but a goodie" some might like to say. There are two modifications we'd like you to try too. These will help you get deeper into the muscle and releasing out all that built up tension you might be carrying around.
The first one is above (1st picture on the left). Holding onto your elbow with the opposite arm and breathing into lengthening the tricep. Hold this for 30 seconds (minimum), one minute (maximum). Make sure to do both sides.
Once you've done both sides, go back to the first side but instead of holding onto the elbow, this time try and reach around and clasp your hands. (Shown in the picture above to the left) If this is too much today, grab a towel or strap, and hold the towel between your hands, slowly working towards clasping your hands. (Pictured below)
This deepens the stretch in the tricep while also lengthening the chest. When stretches are intense, it's easy to grip in other parts of your body, like your jaw or facial muscles. Relax them and hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 seconds, maximum of one minute.