Try these exercises to help deal with daily stresses
Tension with the tip of the fingers, elbows to the sides. Concentrate on drawing as large a circle as possible with the elbows by bringing them up and in at the front, over beside the head and back as far as possible, then back in at the sides. Repeat 5 times, then reverse the direction to the rear and repeat 5 times. Try not to raise and tense the shoulders.
In a seated position, rest your hands in your lap and sit back in the chair with spine straight. Raise and tense the shoulders, lifting them toward your ears and pressing them in toward your neck. Hold this position for 5 seconds then drop the shoulders to a loose, relaxed position. Repeat 10 times. You will feel the strength and tightness of the muscles as they tense; then relaxation and lightness of the muscles as they loosen and the blood flow is stimulated. Be aware during the day of where your shoulders are, probably they gradually tense and lift. From time to time see if this is happening to you.
Standing, spine straight, feet slightly apart, drop the head so that your chin is almost resting on the upper chest - from this position move it slowly to the right so that the right ear is above the right shoulder, rotate to the back so the head has dropped backwards, keep rotating so the left ear is over the left shoulder then bring it back to the original front position. Repeat 5 times, then reverse the direction of the rotation to the left and repeat 5 times. The idea is to make as wide a rotation as possible, keeping the shoulders relaxed and straight. This head rolling exercise is helpful in the prevention of tension headaches.
3. Arms and Shoulders
Stand straight, touch the tip of the shoulders. Make sure you leave plenty of room around you. Stand straight, feet a little apart, arms to the sides. Swing your arms out to the left, wrapping them around the body and looking as far as you can over the left shoulder. Now swing around to the right, wrapping your arms around the body again and looking as far as possible over the right shoulder. This is a relaxed fun exercise, concentrate just on a carefree energetic swinging action.
4. Back, Shoulders and Neck
Stand straight, clasp your hands behind your back, keeping the arms and neck straight. Lift the arms as high as you can, hold for 5 seconds, then drop the arms. Repeat this 10 times. Variation - A more powerful form of this exercise is to stand straight, feet apart, lift arms, with fingers interlocked, behind the back, bend forward bringing the arms back over the head. Hold for one minute, then slowly straighten up, leaving the head resting forward for a few more seconds - you will really feel the tightness of the muscles!
Pressure builds up in each muscle throughout the day. Our work and study habits can 'lock in' this tension and we can get sore and stiff neck and shoulders, headaches, bad backs and generally feel tense and uptight.
The following exercises are simple, take little time and can be practiced any time, anywhere during the day. It is a good idea to go through at least some of the exercises each morning to wake up the body.
Stretch arms out straight in front of you, palms down fingers stretching out. Tense the fingers as if they are each pointed out in different directions. Hold this tension tightly for 5 seconds. Relax the fingers, placing the thumb on the palm and rolling the fingers over the thumb into a loose fist. With arms still straight and hands in a fist, roll the hands from the wrist in a circular motion keeping the arms straight and still. Repeat 10 times one way then reverse the rotation and repeat 10 times again.
7. Spine and Neck
Standing straight, imagine that a string is attached to the spine and gently lifting the spine up to a straight line toward the ceiling. When you get this image lift your arms above your head stretching the whole spine upwards, coming onto the balls of your feet. As you stretch upwards and the tension increases in the back, breathe inwards. Relax the tension, breathing out as you come back onto flat feet, lowering the arms. Repeat this lifting and stretching movement, breathing in as you stretch upwards and out as you relax and bring the arms down. Repeat 10 times.
These exercises are listed under the specific group of muscles they act on. As you can feel, many other muscles are being exercised as well as the good effects generalize to the other areas of the body.
Check the position and state of tension in the shoulders from time to time during the day. Are they tensing and lifting?
How do you sit and stand? Keep the spine as straight as possible. Imagine you spine attached to a string on the ceiling which is lifting and easing the muscles into a straight comfortable position.
Try and develop your own exercise program so that you prevent the inevitable build up of tension which occurs throughout the day. Start the day with a few simple exercises to tone up and repeat these during the day when you have a few quiet moments.
See your TAFE Counsellor for more information on relaxation strategies