If you’re outside in the cold or even just chilly in your house, you may notice your shoulders instinctually hunch forward. I know that when I’m outside in freezing temps, with my puffy winter jacket on, I squeeze my body together and my shoulders hunch up toward my ears. I come back from being outside and feel like I need to stretch out my upper body!
When we go outside in the winter, it’s hard to resist tightening up the shoulders and rounding them forward to try and keep warm. The cold weather causes our muscles to contract and become tighter, which decreases our range of motion. To combat this tightness, it’s important to address the stiffness and stretch our muscles, especially our shoulders.
I’ve created this stretching routine to help release tension in your upper body that can result from season-long poor posture. These neck, shoulder and arm stretches will help improve your range of motion after spending time in the cold.
With your back straight, arms at your sides and shoulders relaxed, nod your head up and down like you are motioning “yes.” Drop your chin toward your chest as far as you can. Then, lift your head up toward the ceiling. Repeat 10 times.
Shake your head “no”
After saying “yes,” it’s time to say “no.” With your back straight, arms at your sides and shoulders relaxed, look toward your right as far as you can. Then slowly move your head to the left as far as you can. Keep your shoulders back and avoid jutting your chin forward. Repeat 10 times.
Ear to shoulder neck stretch
Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Slowly tilt your head toward your left shoulder without moving your shoulders. (Think of trying to touch your left ear to the left shoulder). Use your left hand to gently pull your head further down for a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds before returning your head to the center and repeating on the opposite side.
Reverse prayer pose
Sit on the floor or at the edge of a chair with enough room to put your hands behind your back. Place your arms and hands behind your low back. Touch your fingertips together, and if your mobility allows, put your palms together in an upside-down prayer position. Feel the stretch across the front of your chest and shoulders. Keep your back straight and hold for 30 seconds.
Begin on all fours with the tops of your feet and shins on the mat. Sit your butt back onto your heels, reaching your arms straight above your head. Rest your forehead on the mat and reach your fingertips as far forward as possible until you feel a stretch in your shoulders and arms. Hold for 30 seconds, breathing slowly and continuing to reach forward.