These 5 Stretches Are Basically Like Giving Yourself a Massage

Updated 05/08/19
@bandier

Getting a weekly massage isn't exactly within our budget—which means we're more than happy to resort to a few tension-relieving stretches for a little at-home pampering. Enter New York City–based massage therapist Wil Lewis, who shared the best stretches to target your hips, neck, shoulders, back, and more with Livestrong. "Every body is different," he explains. "Move your body in subtle ways within each stretch intuitively to catch the angles and corners of your body that need it most." Find his five go-to stretches below, and "feel like a new person" afterward:

1. Back of the neck. "While standing or sitting, let your head fall forward toward your chest. Interlace your fingers behind your neck (not your head)," instructs the publication. "While counting down from 20, try to lift your head while you pull your neck toward the floor with your hands. When you reach zero, let go."

2. Side of the neck. This stretch targets your levator scapulae muscles, which are located on the side of your neck. "Let your right ear fall toward your right shoulder. Take your right index finger and push your chin back until you have a double chin. Lean into the stretch until it feels good, allowing the stretch to expand naturally for 30 to 60 seconds. Switch sides and repeat."

3. Splenius capitis and cervicis. These two muscles hug the back of the neck, close to your vertebrae, and can actually cause headaches. While Lewis admits that this stretch is a bit "weird," he insists that the relief is well worth it. "Point your nose toward your right armpit. Place your right hand on the back of your head and let the natural weight of your arm draw your nose downward. You should feel this along the back of the neck on the left side. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, allowing the tension to melt and the stretch to increase.

Switch sides and repeat."

4. Back of the shoulders. This stretch relieves your rhomboids trapezius muscles located in your shoulders. "Interlace you fingers at your lower back so your palms face back. Draw your elbows together toward the front of your body while you round your spine," he explains. "Lean forward into the stretch until it feels good, allowing it to expand naturally for 30 to 60 seconds."

5. Upper and middle back. If you have poor posture from sitting all day, this stretch is for you. "Start by standing with your legs wide. Bend forward and place your hands on the ground. Place your right hand behind your head," writes the publication. "Leading with your elbow, rotate your chest toward the ceiling as high as possible. Rotate back to start, trying to touch your left arm with your right elbow. Do 10 reps, then switch sides."

Head over to Livestrong for more massaging stretches.

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