If you spend most of your time at a computer or desk, this stretch is for you. I'm willing to bet that you've experienced some form of tension or tightness in your neck, back and/or shoulders at some point in your career. The truth is, by sitting at your desk for 8 hours a day, your pectoral muscles, which run along the front of your chest, have shortened and your upper back muscles have lengthened. This leads to a severe imbalance of the front and back of the body and can lead to pain, tension and tightness. This is what I call "computer shoulders" and working in the Silicon Valley, I see a lot of them.
Enter, the "Anti-Computer Shoulder" stretch.
This is a simple stretch, but it is my absolute favorite stretch to relieve tension and pain in the upper body. I frequently end my mat classes with this stretch because of its healing properties. It also causes you to slow down and relax, something that most people won't do on their own. So, when I have my clients captive in class, I include this stretch and encourage deep breathing for an effective, tension-relieving break in their day.
1. Lay on your side with your arms stacked out in front of you. Your knees should be aligned at a 90 degree angle in front of you. It's imperative to keep your hips and knees perfectly stacked throughout the entire movement to get the full benefit of the stretch. Envision that they are bolted together and cannot move. NOTE: If this position is uncomfortable for your neck, simply fold a towel underneath your head for support.
2. Slowly trace a big circle with your arm, attempting to keep your hand on or near the ground throughout the whole rotation. You can think of your arm as a hand on a clock. Many of you will not be able to keep your hand on the ground due to tight muscles, this may be an indicator that you should be doing this stretch more often. As you rotate with your arm, allow your head and chest to roll open and look toward the ceiling. You should feel a deep stretch along the front of your arm/chest and into your back.
3. Draw 5 slow circles in each direction while breathing deeply. Then repeat on the other side.
Questions? Post them in the comments below. I'm here for you!