A very common problem nowadays due to our occupations and lifestyles is neck stiffness and tension. I often hear people complain about “carrying their stress in their shoulders.” What they are referring to of course is the tension that builds near the base of their neck in the shoulder region due to postural stress.
Sitting at a desk or driving long periods in a car is a stress to the spine. I often say that “sitting to the spine is the same as sugar to the teeth.” It is unnatural for our spines to be forced to be stationary for long periods of time and it results in wear-and-tear over time.
One of the things that can be done to help reduce this sitting stress is a simple exercise as shown below.
Wall Angel Exercise
- Start by standing flat against a wall. Make sure your head, shoulders, bottom, and heels are pressed against the wall (This is the form you will hold throughout the exercise).
- Raise your arms parallel with the floor and bend your elbows 90 degrees.
- Try to press the backs of your hands against the wall. You may feel a stretch in your chest and fronts of your shoulders. Hold this position for several seconds.
- Slowly draw your elbows into your sides focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together in your back. Hold for 20 seconds.
- Now slowly push your arms upward reaching as high overhead as you are able while maintaining your position pressed against the wall. Hold for 20 seconds.
- Continue breathing through the entire exercise! IMPORTANT!
During this exercise you should feel tension in the front of your shoulder and chest due to the stretch. You should also notice tension in the back of your shoulders and shoulder blades due to contraction of these muscles.
This exercise will draw your head and neck back over your center of gravity and helps to counteract the stresses of daily sitting.
As always, it is best to contact your health professional to see if this exercise is best for you or your condition. If you’ve got questions about this exercise – call us. We’re here to help!
Many people are unable to perform this when first attempted. There may be years of stress built up preventing full mobility of the shoulders. There also likely is joint restriction and vertebral subluxation which prevents full range of motion and contributes to this loss of function.
Your chiropractor can help restore function and will make this daily stress relieving exercise more effective!