Stretches for Tight Shoulders and Neck Tension

Just how common is neck and shoulder pain & tension?

At Bendable Body people come to us for a wide variety of pain points and injuries. Neck and shoulder pain are at the top of the list. Our culture of excessive time spent on the computer and cell phone has of course accelerated both neck and shoulder pain.  

Here are some very common neck and shoulder diagnosed injuries. But perhaps you don't have anything on this list, except general neck and shoulder pain. We've got you covered! 

  • Frozen Shoulder
  • Labral Shoulder
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Swimmer’s Shoulder
  • Pinched nerve in the neck
  • Spondylosis, or arthritis in the neck

Let's talk about the joints associated with the neck and shoulders.

First of course you have the spine and neck, then you have shoulder joint and the shoulder girdle. Different muscles groups regulate each of these areas, so depending on what kind of neck and shoulder pain you have and how you experience it, will determine which stretches and exercises you should do and the best treatment of neck and shoulder pain. 

  • Shoulder Joint - Stretch the Deltoids (top of shoulder / Large Intestine Meridian) and Pecs & Biceps (chest and front of arms / Lung Meridian))
  • Shoulder Girdle - Stretch the Traps (shoulders and upper back / Thymus Meridian) and lats (middle back and inside of arm / Appendix Meridian)
  • Neck - Stretch all 4 of the above muscle groups!

Why do we need to stretch the larger muscles in the arm to help the neck and shoulders?

If you are wondering how to loosen up neck muscles and how do you relieve tension in your neck and shoulders... the answer is in targeting the unhealthy fascia that has accumulated in the muscles that attach at the shoulder joint, girdle and into the neck. When fascia becomes dense and unhealthy through repetitive movement or lack of movement, it prevents muscles from working. When muscles don't work 2 things happen: first the joints have to over work to make movements you continue to make and they eventually experience wear, tear and injury. The second thing that happens is the the dense, hardened fascia holds the muscles in a twisted or dysfunctional position which in turn creates a misalignment in the joint that muscle attaches to. When the joints are pulled out of alignment and over-working - you have the perfect recipe for pain and injury. 

The traditional treatments of strengthening muscles or end range stretching fail to address the fascia which is acting as a binding substance in your muscles. Addressing the fascia requires a movement that is designed to do just that and that's what the stretching we do at Bendable Body does. 

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Watch this video and learn how to release neck and shoulder pain by targeting fascia:

16 thoughts on “Stretches for Tight Shoulders and Neck Tension”

  1. I am looking forward the watching the neck and shoulder stretched u describe below…. But when I click on the video… which says it is private… I get all kinds of irrelevant videos on utube.
    How can I watch the neck and shoulder one?


  2. Hello, I started stretching a couple of weeks ago, but I have fibromyalgia and whenever I start a new exercise or stretching program I aggravate my chronic pain. so I would like to ask your guidance about how to approach resistance stretching.
    After six days of stretching my hamstrings, my right hamstring felt like I had just imjured it. It bothered me more for 10 days. This hamstring has been waking me up at night for the last year. I have to get up and stretch it gently to relieve the pain, and then go back to bed.
    I also have chronic pain in the little fingers of both hands and the muscles that controls them. This has bothered me for the last 55 years. I’m 68. I have to be careful not to do anything strenuous with my hands and I wear wrist braces if I’m writing or typing much. I started doing the resistance stretching for my wrists and I was able to tolerate that as long as my wrists were feeling okay that day. Twice, I tried lifting one finger at a time, while pushing down with that finger. That made my pain noticeably worse for several days and I had to back off on doing much with my hands.
    I also get pain in my knees and ankles, in the insertion points of the tendons. I have chronic pain in my right SI joint, and my neck is often tense. The general picture is that I tend to have mild tightness in muscles anywhere, particularly if I do something a little strenuous. Intense muscle massage and stretching can get these muscles to relax, but they tighten up again soon.
    My impression is that I should be doing this resistance stretching without resisting very strongly, starting with stretches that don’t irritate my chronic pain, and gradually increasing the intensity and number of stretches I’m doing. What would you advise me to do? Are there specific stretches I should start with? thanks, Dick

    1. Hi Dick, first – do you belong to our membership? I ask b/c that is where we have the most resources for you to access. 2nd – if stretching is causing you pain you are going too far in range and not resisting enough. The more you resist and they less range you have, the more protected your body is. So it’s actually the opposite of how you are thinking about it and what traditional stretching is.

    1. Lois
      I am 73 very bad arthritic knees. I fold over a yoga mat a couple of times and it works like a charm!

    2. Hi Lois, When we share free content we don’t always provide modifications. The majority of people who come to us can do stretches on the floor. We have many modifications inside our membership if you are interested in that.

  3. It looks like most of your exercises are while you are on your knee or kneeling or on the floor I cannot do this at all. Do you have any other ways to do these exercises

    Thank you

    1. Hi Rose, We have multiple versions for all stretches and there is always a standing or seated option. Our membership site highlights this. Have you ever checked it out?

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