BLOG 191: MY TOP WAYS TO REDUCE TIGHT SHOULDERS AND NECK QUICKLYNov 28, 2022
Something many of us struggle with is tension and tightness in our necks and shoulders. Long hours sitting at desks can easily take their toll, as can the strain of always looking down at our phones or carrying small children.
When our shoulders and necks are tight, this has a knock-on effect on the rest of our bodies, including our faces. So, when we work to release tension in these areas, we also indirectly help to relax our faces, reducing lines and wrinkles and lifting the skin.
There are plenty of other benefits to releasing your shoulders, back, and neck too. It helps to reduce pain and increase your mobility and flexibility. And it helps to mobilise stagnant energy – called prana in yoga or Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
In this blog post, I’m sharing simple ways you can quickly reduce tightness in your neck and shoulders.
Our posture has a huge effect on our bodies but especially the neck and shoulders. When we’re working on screens or spending a lot of time on our phones, we often end up hunching our shoulders forward and rounding our upper backs.
In turn, this can create tension and tightness in our necks and shoulders. This means we’re more likely to notice lines appearing in the neck area and are more prone to fluid accumulation under the jaw and chin.
It’s amazing how much of a difference releasing that tightness can make. Below, you’ll find a short routine that is brilliant for helping to stretch and relax the upper body.
However, we can also make a big difference here by paying attention to our posture during the day. Becoming more aware of when we’re hunching our shoulders forward or slumping in our chairs can help us come back to a good, neutral posture and reduce the amount of pain and tension we get in the shoulders and neck.
Regularly stretching and massaging your neck and shoulders are two more ways we can quickly reduce tightness in these areas.
If you are already a fan of Face Yoga, you’ll know how much of a difference even a short routine of exercises and massage can make to your face when you do it daily. We can work with the neck and shoulders in a similar way.
I have a lovely sequence of techniques you can use to release tension from your shoulders and neck. It’s a great routine to do at any time of day and should take you only around eight minutes in total.
Ideally, aim to do this daily to help you let go of tension – both in the body and the mind.
As always with Face Yoga, work to your own level and listen to your body, especially if your neck or shoulders are especially tight or painful.
Start by sitting up straight with your feet grounding down onto the ground. Visualise a string running up the length of your spinal column and out through your head, pulling you up towards the sky.
Holding this position, begin rolling your shoulders up, back, down, and forward. Take long deep breaths as you do this move, letting your whole body relax and release.
This is a lovely move to increase your shoulder mobility and is a great way to encourage the prana/Qi to move freely through this area. This helps boost the circulation to the face, brightening and nourishing your skin.
After around a minute, switch directions and roll your shoulders the other way.
Next, bring your shoulders into a neutral position – not pressing too far back or hunching forward. Place your hands onto your shoulders and lift your elbows up level with your shoulders.
Then, do a few more shoulder rolls, keeping your hands on top of your shoulders to help you work a little more deeply. Don’t forget to go in the other direction too.
Tilt your head slightly to one side. You’ll feel a fleshy area where your neck connects to your shoulder. Use two fingers on the opposite hand to massage this area in a circular motion, working up a bit higher too if you need to.
I’d suggest being very intuitive with this massage, taking it to wherever you need it and finding a pressure that feels right to you.
Often, we think we need other people to give us a massage, but we can actually do it surprisingly effectively ourselves. In my face yoga courses, I teach all sorts of different massage techniques that you can easily do on your own face and upper body.
As you massage, remember to keep taking deep, calming breaths through your nose.
After about a minute, repeat the technique on the other side.
We can hold so much of our stress and our emotions in this area, so this really is wonderful for releasing tension from our minds as well as from our bodies.
Next, flatten your hand. Using the side of your hand that your little finger is on, make a hacking motion down onto the top of your shoulder, close to the area where it meets your neck.
Continue for around a minute. Repeat this on the other side.
Stretch your arms down diagonally and slightly behind you, like big wings. Squeeze your shoulders slightly together and push your chest out. Gently turn your head from side to side, keeping your arms in position.
This helps to open the chest area and counteract that hunched-forward position I discussed at the start of this post. It’s also a great release for the shoulders and starts to bring some more mobility into the neck area.
Allow your arms to come back into a neutral position. Bring your chin down towards your chest and move it gently from side to side, releasing the back of the neck.
If it feels OK on your neck, you can then start to do full circles with your head, first in one direction and then the other.
Then, bring your head back to centre and drop one ear down towards your shoulder as you inhale. Exhale to come back up, then inhale to drop the other ear down. Continue for around a minute to stretch out the sides of your neck.
Next, nod your head down, come back up to neutral, and then tilt your head back. Again, try to move in sequence with your breath.
Bring your head back to its usual position. We’re just going to finish by taking some long, deep breaths – this is a fantastic way to end your practice and release that last little bit of tension and stress.
If you happen to have a crystal sound bowl, you might want to use it here. Strike it slowly three times, closing your eyes and breathing as you absorb each of the reverberations.
You can also use the video guide for this part of the practice – skip to 7.11 if you just want to join the breathing exercise with the sound bowl.
As you breathe and listen to the sound, visualise a healing white light spreading over your neck and shoulders.
Take one more long breath in and out, then open your eyes.
We’re all finished! For more information on Face Yoga and how it can help you release tension and lift your face naturally, there are plenty of resources in my shop.