Quick Shoulder and Neck Release

As we increase our sitting time at desks and round forward to use our devices, neck and shoulder muscles often become overused and fatigued. This can often lead to general stiffness, upper back, shoulder and neck tension, pain and even headaches. Here are three easy releases using a small therapy ball that target some of these overactive muscles.

PHOTO CREDIT: Restore353

1. Levator Scapulae

This muscle originates at the transverse processes of C1 to C4 and inserts at the medial border of the scapula. It is responsible for elevation and downward rotation of the scapula and the extension of the neck and head. Stand with your back against the wall. Place the ball at the superior medial border of the shoulder blade. Roll the ball in circles around that point, vertically and horizontally between that point and the cervical spine and even up and down the border of the shoulder blade to release tension and trigger points. Repeat to the other side.

PHOTO CREDIT: Restore353

2. Rotator Cuff Muscles

There are 4 rotator cuff muscles: supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis and teres minor. These muscle help to stabilize the shoulder joint and allow the shoulder to rotate. Stand at an angle to the wall. Place the ball just below the shoulder, to the lateral side of the armpit. Begin by rolling the ball in circles, then continue with vertical, horizontal and diagonal movements to target the rotator cuff in addition to the serrates anterior and latissimus dorsi muscles. Repeat to the other side.

PHOTO CREDIT: Restore353

3. Pectoralis Minor

This muscle originates at ribs 3 to 5 and inserts at the coracoid process of the scapula. It is responsible for scapular abduction and downward rotation, and elevation of the ribs during forced inhalation. Stand against the wall, facing forward on an angle. Place the ball about 3 inches below the collar bone, medial to the armpit area. Roll the ball in small circles and in vertical, horizontal and diagonal directions about 3-4 inches in length.