Ouch! Are your neck and shoulders starting to ache? Do you have that nagging shoulder pain again? Have you spent hours staring at a screen, typing furiously? Noticed that your back is hunched, shoulders rounded, chest squeezed?
Do you have shoulder pain caused by working on a computer? These stretches can help!
You might notice the onset of shoulder pain at work, especially if you use a laptop, or spend a long time hunched over a keyboard, or with one arm operating a mouse.
And the more we adopt this curled posture, the more we close off to the world around us. You might find you get grumpy, stressed or irritable more easily when you have shoulder pain, and this will often refer up to your neck too.
If you are feeling a bit lacking in self-confidence, the shoulders will curl in even more, and that impacts on your breathing. Deep breaths really help ease anxiety and stress, so having relaxed shoulders makes such a difference to your overall wellbeing.
Luckily we have a whole heap of tricks in Dru Yoga to help release some of your shoulder pain. Here are three great stretches you can do at home to help ease out tension and stretch the muscles so that you can regain your lovely open chest and bright smile.
These stretches also help greatly to prepare for the Cow Face Posture, however if you have serious shoulder or neck problems, these movements are not for you. If that’s you then drop me an email so we can have a chat about what yoga might suit you.
Pectoral Stretch with a Yoga Strap
(You can use a long scarf, sash or tie if you don’t have a strap but it needs to be at least 1.5 metres in length. Buy a yoga strap)
- Stand in a comfortable Mountain Posture, with your feet hip width apart or sit on the edge of a chair)
- Loop a strap loosely around your hands, and hold your hands about 1.5 metres apart
- Start with the strap in front of you, shoulders and neck relaxed
- Engage the core muscles
- On an IN BREATH raise the strap up and over your head
- On an OUT BREATH lower the strap behind you. Keep the shoulders and neck relaxed and the elbows slightly bent. Go to the POINT OF FIRST RESISTANCE. Do not force the stretch
- Hold and breathe naturally for 5 breaths
- Raise the strap back up on an IN BREATH
- Lower down in front on an OUT BREATH
- REPEAT this time lowering the strap to the POINT OF SECOND RESISTANCE and then returning to the front
- REPEAT this time lowering the strap as far as you can go with NO PAIN
Caution – this stretch is not suitable for anyone with a history of shoulder dislocation. Work gently if you have acute shoulder or neck pain.
- Stand in a comfortable Mountain Posture, with your feet hip width apart (or sit on the edge of a chair)
- Raise your right arm and lower your right hand to the base of your neck, or lower if you can. Don’t take it further than the centre of the back, between the shoulder blades. You can use your left hand to help guide your right elbow, if needed
- Keeping your right hand in place, raise your left hand and place it on your right elbow
- Gently push your right elbow backwards to increase the stretch
- Hold and breathe naturally for 5 breaths
- Release the left hand, and then the right
- REPEAT on the other side
Preparation Stretch for Cow Faced Pose with a Yoga Strap
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) is ostensibly quite an easy pose, but it requires flexibility in the shoulders and pectoral muscles and you should always warm up and prepare the muscles before practicing it.
Cow Faced Pose corrects a tendency to round the shoulders and improves joint mobility. Additionally it releases feelings of resentment and rejection, as you open the chest and release the strain in the shoulders. To prepare for the full pose the following stretch with a yoga strap is ideal.
- Kneel on a cushion or blanket in Hero Pose, with the bottom on the heels, or sit on a chair
- Lift up out of your hips and extend the spine on an IN BREATH
- Relax, retaining your upright posture, on an OUT BREATH. Breathe naturally for the rest of the stretch
- Raise your right arm, with the strap in your hand
- Drop the strap behind your back (if there is a buckle on the strap, have this at the bottom so the weight helps guide the strap downwards)
- Take your left hand behind your back and take hold of the strap
- Walk your hands towards each other along the strap, aiming to meet between the shoulder blades
- Hold for 5 breaths
- Release and REPEAT on the other side
Want to do more of this? Join us at the Yoga Weekender in Leeds for a weekend of simple, practical and enjoyable yoga to help you ease out your aches and pains.