Bye-Bye, Neck and Shoulder Pain From RA

On-the-spot yoga fixes that ease tension fast.

Dorothy Foltz-Gray
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Stiff from gardening or housework?
Try this:
Supported backbend
Put soft music on, if you like. Get a rolled-up blanket, sofa cushion or exercise ball. Lie back with your sacrum, or base of your spine, against the cushion bottom. Ease yourself back, feet on the floor, knees up, arms by your sides. Relax for five minutes.
Why it works:
“You are taking muscles that are used to going one way—forward—and asking them to go another way,” says Carol. This relieves tightness due to overuse. 

Long commute?
Try this:
Shoulder shrugs
These are great to do at stoplights. Inhale and bring your shoulders up to your ears. Exhale with a loud “hah,” dropping your shoulders. Do three to five times, moving with your breath.
Why it works:
“This engages the muscles of the shoulders and then releases them, teaching you to let go of excess tension,” Carol says.

Carol’s tips for a happy neck and shoulders

Straighten up. “Avoid having your head forward,” says Carol. “If someone is looking at you from the side, your ear should be over your shoulder, your shoulder over your hip. That lets your skeleton do the work instead of the neck muscles.”

Lips together, teeth apart. “We tend to walk around with our teeth clenched, which leads to neck pain,” she notes. “So, practice this reminder mantra: lips together, teeth apart.”

Keep moving. “You need to have a strong overall body to support your head.” She suggests walking when you’re on the phone, taking desk breaks at least hourly and always climbing
the stairs. 

Position your sleep.Sleep on your back or side,” recommends Carol. “Sleeping on your stomach throws your neck and back out of alignment. Use a down pillow, which conforms to your shape.” 

April 2013