Relax and Take A Deep Breath. Help Is Here!

Relax and Take A Deep Breath. Help Is Here!

By Sharon Truelove

Spending too much time looking down?

Tightness in the neck and shoulder region (not to mention, many headaches) can be caused from a  tight Levator Scapula. Postions such as head forward posture (staring at a monitor for hours on end), looking down for long periods of time (reading with the book in your lap) can affect this muscle greatly. Levator Scapula is one of many core muscles in the neck responsible for stabilizing (like a guy wire). It is located posteriorly at the side of the neck, and as its’ name implies, it lifts the scapula.

It’s probably one of  the first muscles you try to rub after you’ve been incorrectly holding your head flexed for too long while trying to work and look down on something. Reaching up with the opposite hand you rub, rub, rub…you try to get someone else to rub, rub, rub…to no avail. Well, following are some stretches that may prove very helpful when your neck feels tight.

To start, setting straight in a chair with your feet flat place your right hand over your head and just above your left ear (see below) gently laterally flex the neck  (right ear to right shoulder with the right hand). Then gently resist (pull left ear away from right shoulder)—be gentle, as too much pulling or resisting can have an opposite effect and cause pain. Repeat on the other side.  Do this 3 times. 

For the next stretch, do the same as explained above, but tuck your chin and point your chin toward the left shoulder your right hand over your head and just above your left ear (see below) and laterally flex the neck to the right, gently resist (pull left ear away from right shoulder)—again, be gentle. Do this 3 times on both sides. 


For the last stretch, rotate your head to the right and try to look up at the ceiling, place your left hand over your head and just above the right ear (see below) laterally flex  the neck to the left, gently resist (pull right ear away from left shoulder)— gently. Do this 3 times on both sides.    

There are many self help methods that can help alleviate stiffness & knots in sore areas. A Thera Cane (a self-help tool) is curved, made from fiberglass, and it has several knobs. It’s very easy to use without a lot force to treat trigger points before they become a problem.

Setting for a long time at the computer can really affect the low back in a painful way—placing a ball or a support device at the low-back area can help give support.

20 thoughts on “Relax and Take A Deep Breath. Help Is Here!”

  1. I love these stretches, I need to remember to give them as homework to clients. I did them while reading the article and felt better right away. Thanks, Sharon! Btw, what’s a guy wire? 😉

    1. a guy wire is a tensioned cable
      designed to add “stability” to structures–you see them holding up radio towers (along the hwy) 🙂 good question!

  2. Thanks so much for this one, it is very helpful after sitting at the computer and as you said, looking down for several hours. Now back to home work. Very nice.

  3. I really needed this information since I have the worst knots ever. But that routine is really easy and very practical. Thanks for the information.

  4. I had the worse headache at work yesterday and these stretches were the only thing that helped me what so ever. I am so glad that I have all these tools to keep my body from hurting like it used to. I have even passed them on to my family members who have suffered from neck aches for the last decade. Great stuff.

  5. I love this stretch. My therapist taught it to me after my wreck. Thanks for the reminder. I will be using it more often.

  6. These streaches work a lot better than what I have been doing. I like it and will remember them.

  7. I’m thinking less homework for massage students would alieveate the problem! No? ok, back to it then! Great stretches! 🙂

  8. So I have told clients to do these type of stretches, but I really haven’t done them very much myself. They kinda hurt at first, I think I need an adjustment, but niow my neck feels so much looser, more free to move. Thanks. I think I will try more often what I tell clients to do. 🙂

  9. I try to stretch my neckon the way to school and at bedtime. However, 2 of these stretches are new to me. I’ll add them to my routine. Thanks. 🙂

  10. I use the first two stretches quite frequently, but I never thought of using the last one. Thanks. Love this.

  11. Thanks for sharing a great trick that really works!! I will keep this in mind to show my clients.