Neck & Waist: 10 Ways to Release Tension and Create Balance

[BLOGGER’S NOTE: When I started this blog nearly four years ago, I swore I’d never do those “7 Ways to Do Whatever” posts. They seemed like pandering gimmickery in a bad women’s magazine. Blech. But as I’ve been thinking and writing about necks and waists, I realize there really are a bunch of simple things anyone can do to create more ease in these over-worked body parts and I started writing them down and I swear to Betsy, there were 10 of them. So here we go…]

10 ways neck and waist

Yesterday, I posted about the structure of the neck and waist and how chronic immobility in these areas creates weakness and tension.

To restore balance and ease in the supporting areas of neck and waist, mobility and flexibility is key. Here are 10 easy ways to increase the health and happiness of your neck and waist.

1. After sitting at your computer for a while, open your eyes and look at each corner of the room. Bonus points for looking up at the actual sky.

2. Make big, slow back-stroke movements with your hand and follow your hands with your eyes (actively use your eyes rather than following your hand with your shoulders and chest).

3. When backing out of a parking space, look behind you with your eyes and neck rather than cranking your body around.

4. Imagine you’ve got an alligator or kangaroo tail and let your tailbone release and swing as you walk. Bonus points for doing this in the grocery store or even better in the bank.

5. Lie on the floor on your back with your feet flat and knees pointing to the ceiling. Imagine there is chalk under your low back and use your lumbar spine to “erase” the chalk.

6. If you’ve been in the car or at your desk for a while, stand up and use your waist muscles to circle your hips. (Stabilize your legs and move from your waist rather than your knees – small movement is great here. If you’re not sure if the movement is coming from waist or knees, put your hands on your hips while you circle – if you’re moving from your waist, you’ll feel the muscles moving, if you’re moving from your knees, you won’t.)

7. Gently stretch your neck using the handy-dandy weight of your head – allow your ear to fall to your shoulder, then chin then other shoulder. As you drop your head to the right, use can gently place the weight of your left hand near your left collarbone to create more length and release.

8. Lying on the floor or a bed on your back, cradle the back of your head with your fingers and run your thumbs gently and firmly along the ridge between the back of your skull and your neck. There are lots of little muscles here that rarely get enough love.

9. Wrap your hands around your waist with your thumbs in back and your fingers in front and massage first your low back, then around to the sides of your core, gently squeezing any places that are tense or tight.

10. On all fours, with hands under shoulders and knees under hips, inhale and drop your belly while lifting your eyes and tailbone, then exhale and drop your head and tail while using your belly muscles to round your low back up. These poses are called Cat and Cow in yoga but you can also circle your hips, move your hips forward and back, and generally move your waist in this position to get a personalized delicious stretch.

In this week of the fall equinox, where we celebrate the balance of our days, give some love to the supporting cast. Allow your waist and neck movement and release.

COMMUNITY BONUS: Do you have any ways of creating movement and stretch in your neck and waist? Please share them in the comments below or on the Focus Pocus Facebook page!

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