Many people seek out massage to relieve chronic pain and tension in their bodies. Perhaps it's your neck, your low back, your shoulders or your hips, but many of you have a "sweet spot" - that place that just seems to lock up and experience pain over and over again. If your sweet spot is in the neck and shoulders, this post is for you!
Therapeutic massage can be very effective at beginning to address the underlying issues that are causing your pain and discomfort. Relaxation massage is an excellent way to enter the place where your nervous system can relax and recharge. The place where you naturally release tension patterns, for a time. Shifting long-held tension patterns in lasting ways, however, requires daily attention. A very effective combination is daily practice (stretching, breathing or exercise) on your part and regular massage (every 1-2 weeks initially, and every 3-4 weeks once in a maintenance cycle). The good news? Your daily practice doesn't need to take tons of time, or even feel like a chore. It can be delicious!
Weaving a passive chest stretch into your daily routine will be beneficial if you have tightness across your chest and shoulders, a head that reaches forward, or if you spend daily time on the computer. Below, you'll see my favorite passive chest stretch to teach my clients. Why? It's easy, it feels wonderful, it makes a difference quickly, and all you need is one 36" half foam roller, which you can order online for $15-20. Considering that you'll be using it every day, and considering that it'll keep you from carrying humpbacked, stoopy-shouldered posture from one day into the next, let's call that a smart investment!
Start by sitting at the very end of a 36" half foam roller. Lie back, aligning your spine along the roll. Let your arms rest on the floor. If you have issues with your cervical spine and need additional support, a folded hand towel under your head or rolled up and placed beneath your neck should do the trick. Notice any areas of holding or tension in your body, and breathe deeply into those places.
If this feels too easy, you can bend the arms at the elbows and raise them until your elbows are even with your shoulders, and your forearms and backs of your hands are resting on the floor (your arms will make the shape of a goalpost). This offers greater chest opening, and requires more flexibility through the chest and shoulders.
Lie here for 5-10 minutes to allow your body to release tension from the back, neck, shoulders and ribcage. Then remove the roll from beneath you and lie back on the floor for 1-2 minutes before getting up slowly.
Do you feel a little taller? Are you breathing a little easier? Able to turn your head with less difficulty?
Enjoy it, and do it again tomorrow! Give yourself the gift of one month of daily passive chest stretching, and send me an email describing what you notice! I can't wait to hear from you. Be well, dear clients!
Certified Yoga Teacher
CI-Certified Personal Trainer
Licensed Massage Therapist