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December Self-Care Challenge Day 7: Stretch to Relieve Tension

Today’s self-care technique comes directly from a Physical Therapy friend of mine because I am not a doctor or one that has the right to tell any of you how to do any stretches. So, without further ado, I give you a little information curtesy of my friend Erika!

Everyday stress—whether mental, emotional or physical—often manifests as physical pain or tightness in our bodies. Over time, the physical symptoms can worsen or become chronic. Taking the time to care for our physical bodies can prevent or relieve this pain. Self-care can also keep us feeling strong and healthy—better able to face the stressors in our lives.

The following techniques offer options for physical self-care that are easily incorporated into even the busiest of schedules.

A Note of Caution: Please do not engage in any stretches' that cause discomfort. If you are nervous or unsure about any of these suggested stretches please consult your physician before continuing.

Seated Stretching: Take a break at your desk or try them out while sitting on the in the car! These techniques can be done as a series or one at a time. Be sure to do exercises on both sides. Go slowly and if you feel pain at any time, discontinue. Breathe as you go; if you can’t breathe comfortably, pull back from the stretch until you can. Sit tall in your chair, feet on the floor directly under your knees. Breathe normally.

Neck Stretch

Gently lower your right ear to your right shoulder. Tap your shoulders to check-in and make sure they’re evenly leveled. You should feel this stretch along the left side of your neck. Hold this stretch, breathing deeply, for about 30 – 60 seconds. Return your head to a neutral position, then lower your left ear to left shoulder. You’ll feel a nice stretch on the right side of your neck.

Chest Expansion

Sitting tall in your chair, raise both arms up over head, then release down beside you. Walk your hands to the back of the chair. You should feel this stretch in your shoulders and across your chest. Release your shoulder blades down and open your heart to the front of the room. Take your time to elongate your inhalations and exhalations. On your next exhalation, try wrapping your shoulder blades a little deeper around your spine to open the chest and feel a deeper expansion.

Back Stretch

Give yourself a hug! Relax your elbows and wrap your arms around your body, walking your fingers toward the back of your shoulders. You should feel a nice stretch in your upper back. If you’re feeling comfortable, lower your chin to your chest to add a little neck stretch. If at any point you feel uncomfortable, feel free to stop and relax.

Posterior Deltoid Stretch

Sit tall in your chair and wrap your arms around your body to give yourself a hug. Then, slowly lift your elbows away from your body. You’ll feel a stretch in the back of your shoulders. Breathe deeply and hold this stretch for 30 – 60 seconds or for as long as you like, then relax your elbows down.

Side Stretch

Sit tall in your chair. Inhale and stretch your arms up and over head, then release both arms beside you as you exhale. Hold onto the bottom of your chair and grow taller through the crown of your head, allowing your shoulder blades to relax down your back. Next, hold onto the chair with your right hand, then extend your left arm up and gently bend toward the right side of the room. This is a lateral stretch and you should feel it all along the left side of your body. If you feel comfortable here, try using your left shoulder to lift your arm toward the sky for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 – 60 seconds, then release your left arm to rest beside you. Next, repeat this side stretch on the right side of your body.

Try these stretches throughout the day, especially if you have a job where you are seated at a desk hunched over the computer for much of it. But these are great for anyone to try and relieve the tension that builds up due to stress.

And remember to drink lots of fluids! Water helps those muscle remain mailable and flexible. Without water you will feel your muscle tense up more readily or even get one of those dreaded muscle cramps!

So let’s stretch it out my friends!

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