Stretches to Loosen up Tight Neck & Shoulders

Tension in the neck and shoulders often go hand in hand.

Many people ask, “How can I relieve tension in my neck?”... and those same people also ask, “How to loosen up knots in the shoulder blades?” It probably doesn’t come as a surprise, tense shoulders and a stiff neck are often found together. It’s kind of like how hip and knee strain are often found together. When your shoulders get tight and loose movement, or get stuck in a dysfunctional rotational pattern due to an accumulation of dense fascia, vertebrae and muscles in your neck will naturally be impacted. 

The good news is you can do stretches using resistance to target dense unhealthy fascia in the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint and you’ll get immediate relief in both your shoulders and your neck. 

What rotational pattern is at the root of tense shoulders and neck?

The most common rotational pattern we see in the shoulders is an inability to maximally externally rotate the arm (Humerus) in the shoulder joint. The arm gets stuck in an internally rotated position. Simply put, over time your arm loses it’s ability to go back in space and to lift up high in the air above your head - both movements requiring external rotation in the Humerus and also in the forearm. 

What’s preventing external rotation in the shoulder joint? An accumulation of dense fascia in the muscles on the back of the shoulder. These muscles (Upper Trapezius, Posterior and Lateral Deltoids, Teres Major and Minor, and Infraspinatus) get stuck in a lengthened position - which you might experience as a feeling of being “hunched” in your shoulders or an inability to open up your chest and “sit up straight”. 

When shoulders won’t rotate fully, every time you go to move your neck you feel impingement and tension. Resistance stretching the posterior muscles on the shoulder to remove the accumulation of dense fascia there will allow these muscles to properly shorten and contract, opening up the chest and returning ease of movement to both the arm and the neck. 

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These stretches are the best treatment for tense neck and shoulders. Watch now

14 thoughts on “Stretches to Loosen up Tight Neck & Shoulders”

  1. The first one is great
    The second exercise is not clear to me. Can you please explain in more detail?
    Also, any other stretches for frozen shoulder? It would be great to have a sequence of stretches available in the membership area

    1. Hey! The second stretch is for the chest, you start turned in the direction of the side you are stretching and when you press your hand into the wall and down and across – you resist the chest muscles on that side – and they when you pivot open in the opposite direction – you get the stretch. This stretch is also on the single stretches page in the membership – you could watch that and do it a few times to get it. Also – in terms of frozen shoulder – the shoulder joint module in the super year program would be great. Also there is a shoulder flow on the flows page that would help.

  2. Thanks Sita. The shoulder joint module is helpful.
    The most helpful stretch is the below. I go from a very tight and painful shoulder to almost no pain and full movement!
    I was wondering if I should do the balancing pair that includes it or keep doing the shoulder joint module and shoulder flow. Or just focus on this one
    Or please let me know of any other tips you may have given the ‘most helpful’ link above
    Thanks so much!

    1. As I commented on the last video you asked about – the issue is on your device, it’s not a problem with the video. You are the only one having audio issues. So it has to be localized on whatever device you are using.

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