All You Need To Relieve Sticky Shoulder Tension Is 30 Seconds and a Wall

Photo: Getty Images
The average American spends six-and-a-half hours at a desk every single day. And—if the pain in our upper back and shoulders is to be believed—our bodies simply weren't built for this kind of nine-to-five lifestyle. “Our bodies are in a forward head position and our shoulders are hunched over, which causes our back muscles to get weak and stretched out while our front muscles get very tight and strong,” Phaeleau Cunneen, PT, a New York  City physical therapist, previously told Well+Good. One thing you can do to help matters, or at least, keep from making things worse: Head to the nearest wall and treat your body to a 30-second stretch break.

In a recent Instagram video, physical therapist and yoga pro Lara Heinman shared a series of shoulder mobility moves meant to help unwind the tension you may be feeling in your upper body. The set of four moves is a take on the classic IYT stretches that PTs recommend for the sake of your shoulders, but it adds an element of stability because you're doing each move up against a wall.

This particular stretch series puts your shoulders through both internal and external rotations, which aids in their overall mobility. “With modern sedentary lifestyle, rotator cuff muscles involved in shoulder external rotation are easily weakened and not trained enough,” Sunny Lee, the trainer behind said last year on Instagram. “Engaging in a pulling motion with your shoulders positioned forward can put your shoulders at a greater risk of injury.” This, in conjunction with internal rotation, will help increase the range of motion in your shoulders, and ultimately combat any pain you might be feeling after months of slumping over your laptop.

To try these exercises on your own, start standing, with your forehead against a wall. Slide your hands up the wall, creating a “Y” shape with your upper body, then pull them away to hover your fingers a few inches off of the surface. Repeat this process a few times, until you really feel the stretch through your upper back

Next, place your hands, forearms, and elbows on the wall, goal-post style. Slowly pull your hand away from the wall, which will create an external rotation in your shoulders. Then, from the same position, keep your hands planted and pull your elbows away from the wall, which will create an internal rotation.

Finally, place your hands behind your head with your fingers interlaced. Slowly draw your elbows back as if you were flapping a set of wings, taking care to focus the movement through your shoulders.

After 30 seconds, your shoulders will be loosened up and ready to take on however many more hours of desk sitting you've got ahead of you.

Shoulders still need a little extra love? Follow along with the video below for 8 full minutes worth of feel-good upper-body stretches. 

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