Tense shoulders sometimes seem like a necessary evil of the modern world. They cause pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion, and can contribute to back pain as other muscles try to compensate for stiff shoulders.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Recognize the root causes of your shoulder tension and you can address them before tension builds up and causes problems. If you have problems with shoulder tension, here are three ways to relax tense shoulders.
1. Good Posture is Essential to Relaxed Shoulders
Your shoulders have a heavy job to do each day: They must balance and carry your head, which weighs about 12 pounds. Extending your neck and dropping your head forward adds a lot of extra weight. To visualize this, imagine holding a can of soup next to your chest. Now imagine holding it with your arm extended out in front if you. That can just got a lot heavier!
It’s the same with your head. For each inch that your head extends in front of your shoulder, it’s as if you added 10 lbs. It’s easy to lean forward 3 inches. Ouch—that’s a lot of weight!
To prevent this, make sure your workstation allows you to sit up straight, and practice sitting up straight until it’s second nature. You can practice good posture while standing with this video which shows you exactly how to align your body to relax and reduce stress on your shoulders.
2. Breathe Deeply to Relax Your Shoulders
Our bodies are designed to use our diaphragms to aid breathing, pulling deep breaths into our bellies. But take a look around a typical office: This is not the breathing you’re likely to see. When we sit for long periods, hunched over our workstations, we depend on our chest and shoulder muscles for breathing. That puts extra strain on the shoulders.
Good posture immediately improves your breathing by allowing your abdominal muscles and diaphragm to assist with breathing. Allow air to fill and expand your ribcage, keeping your shoulders, neck, and upper chest relaxed. Yoga practice and other breathing training can also help you get back on track, allowing breath deep into your lungs.
3. Keep Shoulders Down to Ease Tension
How high are your shoulders right now? Hiking shoulders up is a common response to stress. Shoulder hiking causes pain and tension in your neck and shoulders, leading to neck and back pain and headaches.
Remember to relax shoulders by practicing good posture. Try leaving yourself reminders, such as a post-it note on your desk. Relax your shoulders at every stoplight, or when you put your glasses on—whatever works for you. And try some of these stretches to help.
King Chiropractic can help with shoulder tension, too. If you find you’re having pain or reduced range of motion from shoulder tension, call King Chiropractic at (910) 777-7228 to schedule an appointment and get relief fast!