5 exercises to ease tension in your shoulders

Our shoulders are a part of the body that can often become tense, leading to discomfort. Luckily, there are a number of exercises that can offer some relief.

Exercises to relieve tight shoulders

Neck stretches

Exercises for shoulders Stretching your neck can be a really effective way to help relieve tension in the top of the shoulders. Move slowly and gently with this move.

You can practice this standing up or sitting.

  1. Inhale slowly. As you exhale, lower your right ear towards your right shoulder, feeling a gentle stretch down the left-hand side of your neck. Make sure your shoulders stay level and don’t creep up towards your ears.
  2. Hold here for a breath or two. If you like, you can gently place your right hand on top of your head, without pulling.
  3. To return, lower your hand and inhale as you bring your head back to centre.
  4. Repeat on the opposite side.

You may also wish to repeat this movement, but forwards and backwards, rather than side to side. Simply lower your chin towards your chest slowly, until you feel a stretch in the back of the neck/upper shoulders. Then, if it feels comfortable, slowly lift your chin up towards the sky, stretching the front of your neck. Then return to centre.

Arm swings

Exercises for shoulders Swinging your arms can be one of the most useful exercises for warming up the muscles around the shoulders and may help to relieve tension.

  1. Stand up tall, feet hip-width apart, with your arms down by your sides. Engage your core.
  2. Begin to swing your arms forwards, bringing them as high as feels comfortable.
  3. Reverse the movement and swing your arms as far back as feels comfortable.
  4. Repeat this for 30 seconds to a minute.

Thread the needle

This is one of our favourite exercises for soothing tightness in the shoulders, and it may also feel relieving for tension in the back.

  1. Start on all fours. Feel free to place a blanket under the knees for extra support.
  2. Inhale, and reach your right arm up to the sky, creating space across the chest.
  3. Exhale and thread your right arm underneath your left, bringing your right shoulder towards to ground.
  4. Extend your left arm out in front of you. Try to remain square through the hips.
  5. Hold the pose for 1-5 breaths.
  6. Release and repeat on the opposite side.

Cross-body stretch

This stretch is one to do after a workout or if your shoulders are feeling particularly tight.

  1. Stand up tall, with your feet hip-width apart. Alternatively, you can do this seated in a chair.
  2. Bring your right arm across your chest, keeping your arm straight.
  3. Use your left forearm to support the right arm, so that you feel a stretch.
  4. Hold for a few breaths and then release.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

Garudasana arms (Eagle pose arms)

This yoga pose gives a strong stretch to the shoulders and, when practiced regularly, could help to contribute to better posture.

You can do this pose either standing or seated.

  1. Take your arms out wide to the sides and then cross them at the elbow in front of you.
  2. From here, you can either take your hands onto opposite shoulders, giving yourself a hug or, if you have the flexibility, move the backs of the palms towards one another, until they cross over. You may be able to bring the palms together and take a clasp of the hands.
  3. Hold for a few breaths and then release.
  4. Take a few rolls of the shoulders and then repeat on the opposite side.

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