How to Release Tension in Neck and Shoulders in 5 Minutes

If you’re sitting at a computer for a good part of the day, chances are you feel tense in your shoulders, upper back, and neck area. Tension easily builds into this area of the body and it can eventually cause more serious pain in the long run, potentially resulting in injury.

Here are some stretches and light exercises you can do in just 5 minutes to help release this tension and prevent possible injuries.

Neck Rolls

In any comfortable seated position, sit up tall with your shoulder stacked over hips. Feel free to sit on a pillow or blankets to help you sit up straight with more ease. You can close your eyes and slowly tuck your chin to chest, then roll right ear towards right shoulder, and then slowly back to centre, then left ear towards left shoulder. Do this for about 30-45 seconds and feel free to pause in a place that feels extra tense and take an extra deep breath or two there.

Eagle Arms

In a seated or standing position, cross right arm over left arm at the elbows so you make an ‘x’ with your arms, then wrap opposite hands around shoulders (kind of like giving yourself a hug). You can stay here if you feel a stretch, or continue to wrap forearms and wrists around one another so palms face each other. Lift your elbows and draw them forward gently. Hold for 30 seconds and switch arms (left over right).

Thread the Needle

From a table top position on hands and knees, reach your right arm underneath left shoulder and drop down to your right shoulder and right temple. If your head/shoulder don’t reach the floor, prop them up with a blanket or pillow. Optional to crawl left fingertips so they are above your head but still on the floor for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Rotational Side Lying Pose

Lie down on your right side. Flex your hips so your knees are in line with your hips, and bend your knees 90 degrees. With your feet, knees, hips, and shoulders stacked, take a deep breath in as you reach your left arm up towards the ceiling and towards the left. As you exhale, bring the left arm back to the right. Repeat 4-5 times on each side.

Rolling Bridge

Place your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart, check that your knees are hip width apart. Starting with your arms by your side, palms down. Evenly ground down through your feet and lift your hips up towards the ceiling as you breathe in, as your exhale, slowly lower your hips and reach your arms up and overhead as far as it feels ok for you. Try to feel each vertebrae in the spine lifting and landing one at a time as you move the hips up and down, and feel free to gently wriggle around the upper back as you move your arms to help loosen up tension in that area. Repeat 4-5 times.

Be sure that you are breathing deeply (preferably through the nose) during these exercises. As for the moving ones, be sure to move the body at the same speed of the breath so you are moving with mindfulness and can really feel what’s happening in the body.

I hope you can find the time to try these for yourself. Feel free to comment with questions or other exercises or stretches that you find helpful. Stay happy and healthy :)

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