We hold on to a lot of stress in our bodies. Ever feel like your neck or shoulders are tight when you are working for too long? It is important to stretch out these muscles and release the tension so you can relax.

Here are some common areas to be mindful about where we hang on to stress:

1. Jaw

When we are stressed we often clench our jaws (even if you aren’t aware of it!). A great way to relax is to massage your masseters – which is the muscle where your jaw meets your ears – and do motions similar to yawning.

How to relax your jaw:
1. Place your fingers on your jaw and push them in circular motion
2. You can start clockwise for 10 and switch to counterclockwise for another 10
3. Run your fingers behind your ear and place pressure just at the base of your ear
4. Open your mouth wide for a yawn

2. Neck

We are all guilty of this! Our necks are always looking down at our computers, phones, or books. Neck tension is the most common problem and it can cause plenty of problems like headaches and affect your sleep.

How to relax your neck
1. Roll your head in a clockwise and counterclockwise circle
2. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and not shrugged up to your ears
3. Use your fingers to gently massage the base of your neck
4. Tilt your head to the right & left and use your hand to gently push it down

3. Shoulders

Shoulders are constantly rolled forward because we are typing and texting, or just holding objects out in front of us. Your shoulders and neck muscles are closely linked and when your shoulders are tight, it may pull on your neck muscles and vice versa.

Stretch out your shoulders:
1. Shrug your shoulders as hard as you can to your ears and relax. Repeat this 5 times.
2. Cross your right arm over to your left shoulder and use your left arm to hold it stable. You can repeat the same for the other side
3. Roll your shoulders in clockwise and counterclockwise motion to loosen the shoulder joint

4. Hips

We sit entirely too often and it often leads to a lot of tightness. This is not common knowledge to everyone, but hips hold a lot of negative emotions. By releasing your hips, it can release a lot of built up tension in your body.

Release your hips now:
1. In a seated position, cross your right leg over to your left leg and push your knees out. Think of making a figure 4. If you are flexible you can bend forward.
2. Hold this position for 1 minute and you can switch legs.
3. If you are feeling tingling or numbness, this is a good sign. Your deep connective tissues are being stretched and repaired by your body.

– Clara Coelho, Personal Trainer at Crux Fitness Richmond

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