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How many times a day do you look over your shoulder while driving, shopping or performing everyday activities? Turning our head is something we do over and over and over again throughout the day. But, we usually do not realize its value or importance until we get a stiff neck. Stiff necks are usually a result of sleeping in an awkward position, but that is not always the case. As we get older, stretches for our neck and shoulders become even more important as we begin to lose range of motion.
Neck and shoulder stretching exercises can help increase range of motion and improve daily function. Performing the following exercises three to five days a week is a good way to start. Begin by sitting up tall in a chair with your hands placed on your thighs and feet flat on the floor. Breathe normally during these exercises. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
Make sure you bring your ear to your shoulder and not your shoulder to your ear. If you don't feel the stretch, you can increase the stretch movement by holding onto the side of the chair with your hand. Example, if you are stretching the left side of your neck, hold on to the chair with your left hand.
Val Walkowiak is the medical integration coordinator at Loyola Center for Fitness. She can be reached at 708-327-3526.