There is a good chance that your daily routine is completely different from what it was 2 months ago. All of a sudden you have a new work-station at home, your workout routine is different, you are watching much more Tiger King on Netflix, and you’re not getting regular massages to keep that muscle tightness under control. It’s no wonder then why you’re experiencing some new muscle tightness or aches and pains in your neck or shoulders, mid or low back, or hips. While you might not be able to get in to see your favorite massage therapist right now, there are some simple and quick ways to help keep the tightness under control. We will highlight the main areas that our clients are complaining of tightness, what causes that tightness, and what you can do about it.
For many of the best ways to stretch you’ll want either a foam roller, 2 lacrosse balls, or tennis balls. We’ll highlight other options for each stretch that can work but you can also find cheap lacrosse balls and foam rollers on Amazon.
Neck and Shoulders
The two most likely reasons you’re having new neck and shoulder tightness is either your new desk set up (please don’t be sitting in your bed and doing work) or stress. Both put extra strain on the muscles of your neck and shoulders. A couple days of this and it’s not going to affect you. Now that we’re into more than a month and we’re likely to be going through social distancing and teleworking for at least another month. Make sure that your work station is set up properly with your back fully supported by your chair, your feet flat on the ground and your keyboard close to you. You can also work on belly breathing to alleviate stress and tension in your neck. To get the benefits of this, lie flat on your back and place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose and let your belly rise, but don’t let your chest rise at all. Breathe out completely and let your body relax. Try that for 5 minutes, 2 times per day. Add a third time per day if you’re finding success with it.
Neck - Take two tennis balls or lacrosse balls and put them into a sock or tape them together. Lie on your back and place your new massage tool at the base of your head where your neck muscles meet your hairline. Let your head completely relax and focus on your belly breathing. If you don’t have lacrosse balls you can also take any small, round object like a travel coffee mug and wrap a towel around it.
Pecs - Take a tennis ball or lacrosse ball and place the ball in the top corner of your chest just below the hard part of your shoulder bone. Now lean into a corner or doorway and let your arm relax as you massage your upper pec. Don’t press your shoulder into the wall, but lean your body into the ball so the muscles of your shoulder can relax. If you don’t have a lacrosse ball, you can also just use your fingers in the same area of the opposite arm (left hand if you are massaging your right pec).
Mid and Low Back
Chances are, you are sitting much more throughout the day than you used to. Even if you are trying to keep active there are less meetings to walk to, you likely aren’t taking as many steps throughout the day, and you aren’t getting out of your house as much. All of this contributes to putting extra stress on your low and mid back. Day after day of this extra stress and the muscles of your back will tighten up.
Lie on your back with either a foam roller or a round object (nalgene bottle, rolling pin, etc) wrapped in a towel perpendicular to your spine. Roll up and down so that you get from the top of your shoulder blades to your lower ribs on the roller. Move slowly and focus on breathing. Moving lower onto your low back can often be uncomfortable so we don’t recommend rolling too low into your lower back.
Take a lacrosse ball or tennis ball and stand with the ball on the wall so that it is on the inside part of your shoulder blade (you will be facing away from the wall). Now, move your body slowly up and down so that the ball traces your shoulder blade.
Your hips love to move. Whether it’s walking, running, cycling, CrossFit, dancing, or whatever other activity you do, the more your hips move the better they feel. So, now that you are sitting much more than usual, your hips are tightening up. Whether it’s the front, side, or back of your hip, chances are you have felt more tightness than usual in your hips. This one massage is a great way to help with that because you can get all parts of your hip with one movement.
Take a lacrosse ball or any other type of ball and place it on the outside part of your hip in the soft part above your hip bone and below your pelvis. Now lean slightly into the wall into the ball. Make sure the leg you are trying to massage is touching the floor but as relaxed as possible. Work slowly through the outside of your hip(up and down, side to side, whatever movement feels best to you) until you find the tight, tender spots. To get more of the front part of your hip, slightly turn your body towards the wall and to get the back part of your hip, slightly turn away from the wall.