In the first post about Head, Shoulders, Neck and your Voice, we looked at a few ways to move the neck into a more neutral place to help eliminate “Piano Head”, where your head is thrust forward, adding so much weight to your neck.
In this post, I’ll share a few simple (though they may be very sensational!) stretches to help move your shoulders out of internal rotation, the place where they are most of the time thanks to playing piano, typing, carrying things and driving.
Hold each of these for around 3-5 breaths, or longer if it feels comfortable. Also, I’m not a doctor, so consult with your physician if you have health concerns before beginning any exercise program.
The first thing you can do is roll up a small hand-towel and lie with it behind your neck. Make it big enough so you feel the support, but not so big that it hurts. This encourages your neck to be in its natural curved state.
Next, sitting appropriately (with your pelvis in neutral), clasp your hands behind your back. Open the palms away from each other and bend your elbows slightly. Then, gently squeeze your shoulder blades together thinking about spreading across your collarbones. Keep your head in neutral.
While sitting you can do the arm portion of Gomukasana (Cow Face Pose…don’t ask). Move one arm behind the back and try to bring the back of the hand between the shoulder blades. Extend the other arm up and reach back to clasp the fingers of the hand between your shoulder blades. If your fingers don’t easily meet, use a strap to act as an extension of your arms.
Stand with your feet hip width distance apart, feet pointing straight forward and extend your arm to the wall. Touch just the finger tips and tip of the thumb against the wall at shoulder height. The thumb should be pointing up. This one may tingle all the way down into your fingers. That’s because we are compressing a nerve a bit.
(I don’t know why I fail to smile in selfies, I think I’m concentrating too hard on whether the damn picture is going to work!)
Lastly, you can lie over a bolster placed behind your heart center. Have your shoulder blades draping down the far side, arms open at shoulder height – you can play with moving the arms around the vary the sensation. To come out of the pose, bring your feet to the floor and pick your hips up. Shift the bolster to be under your sacrum, rest back down on it and hug the knees into your chest.