If you’ve had one of those days where every muscle in your body is screaming from the tension, you don’t have to reach for the ibuprofen to relieve your headache. It probably won’t help that knot in the pit of your stomach or bring the relief you hoped to achieve. There are stretches that relieve stress, however, which can do the trick and have you feeling better in no time.
Relax your shoulders and neck.
Many people, particularly those at a desk job, start to feel stress in their shoulders and neck. In fact, people with TMJ may actually get relief from massages to the muscles at the back of the head and even stretches for the neck. If you’re sitting in a chair, put both feet flat onto the floor and sit up straight. Your feet should align with the outer edges of your shoulders. Put your hands behind your head, interlocking your fingers. They should be at the base of your neck. You’ll be holding that position as you tilt your head forward and slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold it for about 15 seconds, release and push them tightly together three more times. You’re feeling better, aren’t you.
Another neck and shoulder stretch to do.
The neck and shoulders is often the area where people feel the pain the most, with the back being next in line. You need to stand for this stretch, keeping your knees slightly bent. Drop you head until your chin touches your chest. Put your hands behind your head and push down. You’ll feel it slightly stretch. Hold that position and breathe in and out normally several times. Slowly raise your head and repeat about five times. You’ll feel the difference.
Stretch those back muscles and leg muscles.
This can be a lifesaver if you have an achy back from stress. Lay on the floor with your knees bent. Hold a rolled towel with one end in each hand. Lift one leg, extending it upward and putting the towel either behind your heel or on the arch of your foot. Gently pull your leg toward you, feeling the stretch. Hold it and then relax, doing the other leg.
Do a push away for upper back relief. You can do it standing or sitting. Interlock your fingers in front of you with your arms parallel to the floor. Keep your neck relaxed and round your back, pushing your hands forward with the palms facing outward. Hold, breathe in and out slowly, relax and repeat.
To relieve lower back stress, sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Lean over and grab your ankles with both hands. You’ll feel the stretch in your lower back. Hold that position for a few seconds and then repeat several times until it no longer feels tight.
While it’s not exactly a stretch, this one does relax your hands. Bend your arms at the elbow with your hands up. Relax your hands and shake them by moving the forearm slightly forward and back quickly. Shake them side to side too. They should be like limp rags. You’ll feel the muscles relax.
Try a breathing exercise for overall relaxation. This yoga style technique works every time. Close your eyes and focus your attention to your breaths, breathing in slowly through the nose and exhaling through the mouth. Spend a few minutes doing this and you’ll chase away overall stress.