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  • Durant PT

DIY Stretches for Neck and Shoulder Tension

Updated: Nov 14, 2019

Are you experiencing a neck or shoulder issue and feeling tension in the upper body?  Often tight anterior muscles and weak posterior muscles, as a result of sitting, can cause these symptoms.  Try this foam roller sequence at home to open the chest and shoulders and decrease the pressure through the neck. 

Don't have a foam roller?  Roll two beach towels lengthwise to replace the roller. 

This series will assist in stretching the pectoral muscles (chest) and strengthening the mid-back/postural muscles. 

Step by Step:

  1. Protraction and retraction of the scapula (shoulder blade):  Gently float the fingers to the ceiling and draw the shoulders back to increase awareness around the shoulder blade.

  2. Chest opener stretch:  open the arms out to feel a stretch as you inhale and exhale to keep the shoulder blade against the roller as you bring your arms back up.

  3. Arm circles:  Keeping the shoulder blade against the roller throughout, exhale to gently press the arms towards the hips,  inhale open out towards a "T" and return over the shoulders. Reverse.  You will feel a gentle stretch in the pectoral muscles (chest) and this will strengthen the mid-back.

  4. Chest stretch:  End this series on a stretch opening the arms out and gently holding.  Maintain the neutral spine on the roller and focus on gentle breathing.  You may change the angle of the arms to stretch different parts of the anterior musculature.


  • Be sure to gently engage the abdominal muscles to keep the spine neutral and the back of the ribs on the roller as you move. 

  • Stay in your comfortable range of motion. 

  • Each sequence could be performed for 30 seconds to a few minutes.


About the Author: Francesca Durant Co-owner of Durant Physical Therapy and Centered Body Pilates, Francesca Durant is an experienced physical therapist and Pilates professional with specialized training in pelvic health from Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute.

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