Place one hand on your head and gently pull down and diagonally to the other side. Perform 2 times to each side, at least twice per day, holding the stretch for 15 seconds. This stretch is perfect while sitting at your desk, or, carefully, in the shower.
Side Stretch for Neck Muscles (Lateral Cervical/Scalenes)
Standing or sitting, reach downward with your right arm and place your left arm on top of your head. Pull down gently to the left which will stretch the muscles on the right side of your neck. Repeat to other side. Perform this stretch two times to each side, holding each stretch for 15 seconds, at least twice per day.
Lie on your back and bend one leg. Hug your knee and pull towards your chest. Hold for 15 seconds. You should feel this stretch in your lower back, and maybe in the back of your leg and buttock. Perform 2 reps and do the other leg. Next, starting with the first leg, pull the knee up and towards the opposite shoulder. You should feel this stretch a little lower, in the sacro-iliac area. Again, hold each stretch for 15 seconds, two times per side.
Kneeling Hip Flexor/Psoas Stretch
Kneel on one knee, toes pointed down. Bend the other knee in front of you with your foot flat on the ground. Place your hands on the knee that’s in front of you and lean forward until you feel a stretch in the front of the bottom leg and pelvis. Hold for 15 seconds, at least two times and switch sides.
Sit at the edge of your chair and extend your arms to your sides, thumbs pointing backwards. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you stretch your arms back. While in this position, look straight ahead shift your head backwards (like you’re trying to make a double chin) Hold this position for 15 seconds and repeat 3 times. Do this several times a day while you’re working at your desk to help counteract the hunched over, head forward position that this type of work causes. It may look funny to your co-workers, but eventually they’ll be doing it too.
If you were instructed to use ice, you can use a bag of frozen peas, a baggie filled with ice and a little water, or a gel ice pack. Always put a cloth (not too thick) between your skin and the cold pack. Apply to the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day.
Moist heat is better than dry heat for tight muscles because it penetrates deeper into the tissues. You can buy an inexpensive moist heating pad that has an insert that you run under water, or you can simply wet a towel, ring it out, and microwave it for a couple of minutes. Wrap it in a dry towel and apply to the sore, tight area. Never use heat for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. You can use heat for 10 minutes every hour. It is also a good idea to follow heat with some gentle stretches.
Alternate heat and ice. Use heat for 10 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of ice, and then 10 more minutes of heat. This 40 minute routine may be performed several times per day. The heat helps to relax tight muscles and brings fresh blood and nutrients to the area, while cold pushes away any excess fluid and controls inflammation. This “milking’ action is very therapeutic and helps to speed tissue healing.