Relieve Neck and Shoulder Muscle Tension Holistically

Do you take stress in your shoulders? If so, welcome to being human!

Our frenetic, stressed-out 21st century is full of unreasonable time demands, amplified emotions and curve balls coming from every direction. Taking it in the shoulders is an automatic reaction.

Sitting at the desk all day doesn’t help the situation.

In fact, most people I’ve worked with who had injuries or joint conditions tell me that a day (and often a lot less than a day) at the computer throws off their alignment to the point where their pain levels become unmanageable.

How Sitting All Day Makes for Chronic Shoulder Tension

Regular sitting depletes valuable muscle tone. It also diminishes balance and coordination, not to mention fogging up your mental focus!

When these states occur – poof! There goes good posture, easy, pain free movement, and well, the comfortable, powerful feeling of being in command of the way you feel physically.

Along those lines, something I see happen way too much are shoulders that automatically ride up towards the ears – and seemingly park themselves there permanently. 

The shoulders stay parked up there because that muscle at the top gets chronically tight and can’t let go. For you anatomy geeks, the muscle is called the upper trapezius, or upper traps for short.

If you have chronically tight upper traps – and who doesn’t – you likely need especially potent techniques designed to relax, once and for all, those hard-as-rocks muscles located at the top of your shoulders. 

Shoulders Down!

Obviously, then, a more supportive posture would be for the shoulders to be slid down the back. 

It gets more complicated than that, but for beginners and people with limited time for focusing on their body alignment during the day, sliding shoulder blades down your back, as opposed to allowing them to stay stuck up by your ears, may help release tension and pain as well as improve overall posture.

Woman doing shoulder stretch at desk. Her arms are extended out in front of her with fingers interlaced.

The only one who can remedy your glued-up shoulders is you.

Doing so is about targeting the shoulders tops for relaxation.

But, you’re aiming to relax chronic tension, which often plays by different rules than short-term tension. 

When muscle tension is longstanding or chronic, keeping the shoulders down – even after you’ve done stretching and other things to try to mitigate – is not always all that easy.

This is because joint misalignment is usually involved where there is chronic muscle tension.

To that end, I’ve made you guided video with two of my favorite mind-body techniques for neck and shoulder relaxation.

Not only will it help the muscles relax, but it will also help establish the kind of shoulder positioning that lends support to the neck and upper back area.  With this support, good posture and comfortable neck and shoulders is possible.

In my experience with clients, these two techniques make great first steps towards using a posture approach to relieve pain.

By the way, I call my posture and pain approach “supported relaxation.” Supported relaxation is the foundation for most of the ergonomic and pain relief techniques I teach.

A Safety Note for You

As I mention in the video, if you have high blood pressure, stick with the first technique “hissing.”

What I didn’t mention in the video is that the same advice holds true if you have a neck or shoulder injury/condition. With an orthopedic injury or condition, consider easing into the second technique as you get pain under control and as the injury stabilizes.