Have you ever experienced that achy, burning sensation at the base of your neck and shoulders after spending countless hours working on the computer or on school homework? Did you stretch those achy muscles? We bet it felt like heaven! Then you go back to work and 2 hours later, that same annoying sensation creeps in on you again.
Want to break the cycle? DON’T STRETCH those muscles!
Ever since we can remember, we’ve been programmed to stretch the things that feel tight. Much like a hair elastic, our muscles have elastic properties. Think of:
- A short hair elastic that can hardly be pulled apart – it’s short, it’s restricted. IT’S TIGHT.
- A hair elastic that has been stretched right to the very end and is being held under tension – it’s long, it’s tense. IT’S ALSO TIGHT. Overtime, the hair elastic expands and loses its ability to return to its original length.
Similarly, our muscles can be short and restricted or eccentrically lengthened (lengthened under load). Often, while working, our shoulders tend to collapse into a rounded shape and our head into a forward head position. This puts our lower neck muscles, rhomboids and upper & middle trapezius in eccentrically lengthened positions, causing us to feel “tightness” after a prolonged period. Surely, we don’t want to stretch, elongate and increase the load on them any further.
5 Exercises to help alleviate tightness and stiffness
Instead, some strategies would be to activate these muscles to regain some contractility and bring them out of the eccentrically loaded positions. Try these 5 exercises!
Chest & shoulder opener stretch, hands clasped behind back
banded chin tuck
Prone scapular stabilization
Give the above a try when you are feeling stiff and tight, and you might feel better after! Our professionals at UFIT Clinic will be able to help you assess any issues you might have and provide a rehabilitation program to help you if you are constantly feeling tight and stiff.
About the authors
Nada Khalid is a senior Physiotherapist who graduated from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) with a BSc (Hons) in Physiotherapy. She started her career back home in Singapore at KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital (KKH). Nada spent eight years as a competitive sprinter and hurdler in her school days, before making a transition to play varsity Touch Rugby. These days she remains active in Muay Thai, competing in amateur and professional bouts in Singapore and Thailand.