Knots aren’t inherently bad, it just depends on where you find them. When on your shoelace, they can prevent a slip-and-fall and tying one in a chapel with your partner can bring about a life of happiness. However, finding a few in your neck muscles can quickly put a damper on your other activities. When this happens, incorporating a few stretches targeted at your neck muscles can increase flexibility and relieve tension, ensuring the only knots you’ll have to deal with are those tiny pretzel appetizers at your wedding reception.
Muscle knots, also called trigger points, are commonly caused by accidents, postural stress or over-stimulation. When you experience any one of these scenarios, your muscle contracts to compensate for the added or prolonged stress being experienced. If your muscle is unable to release its contraction in a timely fashion, it becomes tense, forming a knot. Muscle knots in your neck -- as with any other part of your body -- may require a combination of stretching and massage therapy to alleviate built-up tension and restore flexibility.
Your chest and shoulder muscles will benefit from this simple neck stretch that can be performed from any corner of your home. Stand facing the corner, approximately 2 feet away, with your feet together. Place your forearms on each wall, positioning your elbows a little below shoulder height. Slowly lean forward as far as possible without pain. Hold the stretch or 30 seconds to one minute. You will feel the stretch in the front your shoulders and chest.
Levator Scapula Stretch
Your lavatory scapula muscle runs along the back and side of your neck. Relieve tension in this sensitive muscle by resting your elbow against a doorjamb and raising it above your shoulder on the side to stretch. Slowly turn your head away from the side that is stretching and bring your chin down toward your chest. Slightly increase the stretch by placing the fingers of your other hand on top your head and gently pull your head forward. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds to one minute. You will feel the stretch along the back and side of your neck.
Massage allows you to apply pressure to your neck muscles, localizing relief by directly encouraging your muscle to release tension. Locate the muscle knot or trigger point by gliding your hand over your neck muscles searching for any lumps or sensitive areas. Once located, gently press down on the knot until the pain becomes uncomfortable. Slowly release the pressure until you don’t feel any pain. Remaining below your pain threshold, slowly increase the pressure for 60 to 90 seconds. Slowly release the pressure completely and stretch your neck.
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