Who among us doesn’t wake up with an achy neck sometimes, or find that our back doesn’t feel great after sitting or standing in the same position all day? While a concerning level of pain is a matter for a doctor or a physical therapist, a few stretches can go a long way in alleviating everyday stiffness.
After trying out the exercises below to see which feel best to you, consider setting an interval timer (using an app on your phone, or this website) to give you 30 seconds for a given stretch and then 10 seconds to move into the next position. Run through your favourite stretches every morning, or take breaks from your desk to do them during the workday.
Sit on your hand
For an easy neck stretch while you’re sitting in a chair, sit on your hand on the side you’d like to stretch. Then use your other hand to gently pull your head to the side (toward the other shoulder) until you feel a stretch in the side of your neck.
For a different way of stretching your neck, keep your shoulders facing forward and turn your head to look as far over your shoulder as possible.
For this stretch, get on your hands and knees on the floor. Round your back like a scared cat, and then arch your back sinking your belly toward the floor.
If you have stiffness in your lower back, focus on tilting your pelvis as much as possible. If your neck and shoulders are what’s tight, try to get more motion in the area of your upper back and shoulders.
For this one, lay on your back with a rolled-up towel or a foam roller underneath your upper back. Relax onto it, draping the weight of your body over its curve.
This is the classic yoga pose where you’re on your knees, and then sit back so your butt is near your feet and your upper body is rounded forward, with your arms in front of you and your head on or near the floor.
For the opposite of child’s pose, try cobra. Lay face-down on the floor, and then push your torso up with your hands while keeping your hips on the floor.
Thread the needle
For this one, you’ll start with your hands and knees on the floor again. Thread one arm through the space created by your opposite arm and leg. This will gently twist your upper back. Make sure to repeat on the other side.