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Tension-Releasing Neck and Shoulder Self Massage

April 24, 2014

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It’s no secret that many of us store tension in our neck and shoulders. But why does this happen and—more importantly—can a self massage help you get some relief? First, we have to consider that many of us spend at least half of our days bending over keyboards, peering at computer screens. Our neck and shoulder muscles were not built for this type of sedentary strain, and so this kind of prolonged muscular stress shows up in the body as neck and shoulder pain.

It’s also important to consider how this physical ailment relates to our spiritual health. Our neck and shoulders belong to our fourth chakra, which is the seat of love, forgiveness, and compassion. What’s the mind-body connection here? We hunch our shoulders and lower our necks when we feel threatened, frightened, or stressed. When under stress, we also breathe more shallowly, often from our shoulders, leading to tired shoulder muscles and strained necks. This all means that tension and tightness in our neck and shoulders can be a symptom of grief, anger, or anxiety. If left unattended, this pain worsens over time and can develop into more serious problems like arthritis or tension headaches.

Self Massage for Neck and Shoulders

Giving yourself a soothing massage that focuses on the shoulders and neck can be a great way to ease the pain and strain caused by stress, anxiety, or prolonged work at our computers. Use this guide to give yourself a tension-relieving massage at the end of a long day, or even as a well-deserved break while at work.

First, find a quiet place in your home or office. Dim the lights, light a candle or some incense, and find a comfortable seated position. With your eyes closed, take four slow breaths, inhaling and exhaling to a count of four each time.

On an inhale, slowly raise your shoulders up to your ears. On your exhale, slowly lower your shoulders, dropping your shoulder blades as far down your back as possible. Repeat this series three more times.

Smoothe a fragrant oil or lotion onto your hands, and place them on either side of your head just below your ears. Slowly move your hands up and down either side of your neck. Once your neck feels warm, carefully tilt your head back on an inhale breath. Squeeze the skin at the base of your neck on either side of your spine. On an exhale breath, slowly tilt your head forward. Hold this position for four to five more breaths, then return your head to an upright position.

Place your left hand on your right shoulder blade. Squeeze your right shoulder muscle. On an exhale, slowly rotate your shoulder backwards three to four times. Repeat this series on the other side. This motion helps to release the tension in your trapezius muscle.

Take four cleansing breaths. As you open your eyes, you may choose to sit and allow the renewed sense of calm to wash over your body. You may also slowly stand, raising your arms to the ceiling and leaning back into a soft backbend, releasing your chest and sternum.

Nourishing yourself with a daily neck and shoulder massage can help to relieve stress and restore a sense of inner calm.

What other forms of self-care do you incorporate into your day? Tell us about them in the comment section below.