Needing some fun exercises to ease unwanted neck and shoulder aches and pains?
by Francine St George, 28/11/13
Our body does not like being in a sedentary postion for hours on end! Postural muscles fatigue and muscles that should be used for movement take over and tighten up. This in turn can cause tension on the nerves that run from our neck to our arms. Try to take regular breaks every hour or so and have fun with the following exercises!
How to do nerve exercises correctly
We talk about gently winding up or tensioning up a nerve as the starting point for doing a nerve exercise. This means we position the body so the nerve is being slightly tensioned as it emerges from the spine and runs into a more distal area. We can then move either the limb, the back or the neck and this will begin to loosen the nerve. It is critical that you do not overstretch or force a nerve mobility exercise as this will cause pain. It is also important that if you feel pins and needles, or latent pain, then you need to ease back, as you are definitely overdoing it. In this case, consult your physiotherapist to find out how to do your nerve mobility work correctly.
1. First lets relax the upper neck and shoulders…
Place your left hand onto your right shoulder. Tighten your right shoulder muscle by shrugging your shoulder. Now relax this muscle by altering the position of your right shoulder joint so that you can feel with your left hand that your right shoulder muscle is as relaxed as it can be. Try positioning your shoulder back and downwards, and then relaxing and softening your posture without slumping and this will usually help this muscle relax. Once you have learnt how to do this with your hand on your shoulder you can then do this whenever you feel yourself getting a little tense. Be sure to repeat this exercise on the opposite side – using the right hand on the left shoulder.
2. Nerve mobility; palm facing away and fingers up
While sitting in a chair, take your hand out to the side of your body with your fingers facing upwards. Imagine there is a wall there and you are gently bending your elbow and almost straightening it while moving your hand towards and away from this imaginary wall. Keep your hand at about waistline level and then start to move your arm backwards slightly behind your body. If you feel tightness in your hand, this means you have tension in the nerves running from your neck into your forearms.
3. Nerve mobility; fingers facing down
Now, turn your fingers downwards facing the ground with your palm still facing away from your body. Start with the elbow bent and then try to straighten it. Do this very gently with small oscillating movements. Be sure you expand the chest and pull the shoulders back and downwards for the exercise to be more effective.
4. Crazy elbow stretching
This exercise is for tensioning the ulnar nerve which traverses the medial side of the elbow. Have fun with it! Make a circle with the tips of the thumbs and index fingers. Raise the arms and roll the other fingers towards you. Place the circles formed by the thumb and index fingers around the eyes and spread the fingers lengthways down the side of the face. Gently depress the shoulders and pull the shoulder blades together to achieve an effective stretch. Hold for 10–15 seconds. Great stretch if you are working at a computer and don’t mind your colleagues’ comments!
Extract New Bodyworks, Francine St George 2013