Experiencing Tight Muscles?
Stretching Tips from a Physical Therapist
Stretching throughout the day is vital to relieve muscle tension, improve joint mobility, and decrease the amount of pain you may feel. This is especially true for people who work long hours, sitting at a computer. Many of us don’t get up and move enough throughout the day. We tend to get stuck in the same posture and in a shortened position for a prolonged period. As a result, certain muscles can become tight – while other muscles become lengthened.
In the following videos, Mount Sinai Physical Therapist, Raymond Ednie, PT, DPT, works his way from the neck down to the hips, sharing stretches that target muscle groups prone to becoming tight and sore after a long day at a computer.
Please note, these stretches are not meant for muscles that have been lengthened – different strengthening techniques as opposed to stretching techniques would be applied here.
What are the Best Stretches to Relieve Neck Tension?
To stretch your neck, there are a couple different muscle groups you can target, depending on where you feel tight. The Upper Traps are the muscles on the side of your neck and the Levator Scapula is the muscle that attaches from the base of your head to your shoulder blade.
To Stretch the Upper Traps:
- Start by sitting comfortably in a chair, with both feet placed on the ground.
- Sit on top of one of your hands to anchor your shoulder and keep it from elevating.
- Next, tilt your opposite ear towards your shoulder, and place your hand on the side of your head. You should feel a stretch down the side of your neck.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds. Then switch and do the opposite side.
- Do those stretches 2-3 times on both sides.
To Stretch the Levator Scapula:
When working throughout the day this muscle can become tight and elevate your shoulder, causing a lot of pain.
- Positioned the same as the previous stretch, sit comfortably in a chair with both feet placed on the ground.
- Sit on your hand and anchor the shoulder, so it doesn’t elevate.
- Unlike the previous stretch, instead of tilting your head to the side, turn your head towards the side where you are not sitting on your hand, and look down towards your armpit.
- Using your free hand, apply a light pressure to the back of your head, pushing it down, hold for 30 seconds, then switch.
- Repeat 2-3 times on both sides.
What Stretches do you Recommend to Loosen Tight Chest Muscles?
When sitting at your desk throughout the day, your pec muscles can tighten and your shoulders can roll forward and become stuck in a slouched position. To reverse this posture and reduce tension, you will need to stretch your pec muscles.
- To set up this stretch you will need either an open wall or a corner.
- Keeping your elbows bent, place your hands out to the sides onto the wall
- Stand with one leg forward and one leg in a lunging position.
- Lean your body forward to feel a nice stretch over the front of your chest. Avoid applying too much pressure and instead, simply shift your weight forward through your front leg until you feel a nice stretch over these muscles and hold.
What are the Best Stretches for a Tight Back?
This next stretch targets mid-back mobility and requires a foam roller.
- Begin by placing the foam roller horizontally on (perpendicular to) the middle of your back.
- Next, take your hands and place them behind your head to support the neck. Adjust until you locate a spot where your back feels a bit tight and roll back and forth to massage the muscles.
- Keeping your head supported in your hands, begin to perform a reverse crutch, falling back into a nice stretch.
- Hold for a few seconds and then release.
- Do this 3-5 times, working this one area.
- If there are additional areas that feel tight, find another spot on your back, either a bit higher or a little bit lower and repeat.
Next, place the foam roller vertically on (parallel to) your back, keeping your back flat on the roller.
- Slightly tuck your chin and bring your arms to your sides to form a “T” shape. You will feel a stretch over the front of your chest.
- You can hold this for 30 seconds to a minute and then relax.
- Perform this stretch 2-3 times.
What are the Best Stretches To Relieve Hip Flexor Pain?
Lastly, moving to your hips, we will focus on targeting the hip flexor complex, which consists of several different muscles that come together in the top portion of your quad. It’s also where your iliopsoas comes together. These muscles can also become tight from sitting throughout the day.
- Our first stretch will begin in tall kneeling.
- Start with one knee on the floor and place the other foot in front of you on the floor.
- To feel the stretch, shift your body weight forward and keep your posture tall.
- Continue to shift your body weight forward until you feel a nice stretch over the front of your hip.
- If you want to target that muscle a bit more, raise one arm in the air and reach across over the side that you are stretching.
- Hold for 30 seconds and perform 2-3 times. Then switch and stretch the opposite side.
Consistency is Key
To experience long-lasting relief from tightened muscles, practice stretching a few times throughout the day. Even if you happen to feel relief after your initial stretch, it is recommended that you continue to stretch the tightened muscle group 2-3 times a day.
If you are experiencing tightened muscles, have questions or need assistance scheduling care, our Personal Health Navigators are available by chat in the Health Center at Hudson Yards iOS or Android app or by calling 646.819.5100.
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