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5 quick and easy stretches to treat knots in your neck, shoulder and traps!

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Tight shoulders? Sore neck? You're not the only one! Even physios themselves experience it!

Lately, I've been working a lot in front of the screen and using my mobile more than usual, for work reasons of course; and as I got busy, the exercises and stretches that I was meant to do daily were quickly thrown out the window.

So here I am on a Wednesday morning, suffering with tight neck and shoulder muscles, who are now screaming at me to give them a good rub and stretch. But I did some stretches and I feel a whole lot BETTER. So now, I'm going to tell you what you can do if you were in my shoes!

*If you want to understand the physiology of why these muscles fatigue over time, read this article.

So here are my top 5 quick and easy stretches to treat knots in your neck, shoulder and traps!

1. The Chicken Wing Stretch

  • Start with shrugging your shoulders towards your ears, then bring your shoulders back and then squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold it for 3 seconds and relax. It should look like you're mimicking a chicken spreading his wings. Do this multiple times throughout the day. It’s good for your posture especially if you have a habit of slouching at your desk.

2. The Simple Neck Stretch

  • Place your hand on the top of your head, look down and to your opposite armpit, then gently put some downwards pressure until you feel a stretch. Stop if it’s too painful and avoid over-stretching.

3. Chin Tucks/Pigeon Neck Stretch

  • Probably one of my favourite neck exercise! With your head looking straight ahead, tuck your chin in in a horizontal way as if you're making a double chin, then relax. You should feel a stretch at the bottom of your skull. Make sure you're not nodding your head when you're doing this exercise as that is a common mistake!

4. Angry Cat/Happy Cat Stretch

  • This might not be an easy stretch to do if you're in the office, unless you’re working from home. You start with getting onto your hands and knees, slowly arch your back towards the ground and look up with your head - this is the happy cat. In reverse, hunch your back and look down towards the group - this time you are an angry cat. Your neck, shoulders and back should get a good stretch after this.

5. Use a foam roller!

  • If you haven't come across a foam roller, you can actually get this in different densities. I personally prefer a firmer roller with spikes as it puts a firm targeted pressure into the knotty muscles which helps relieve the tension and almost feels like a massage. Spiky balls work too if you have one. If you don’t have something like this, you could get a tennis ball and put it in a sock and place it under the muscle you want to target or roll it against the wall between your back and the wall and you could get the same relieving results!

Let's connect!

I hope you find this helpful! I'll be releasing a youtube video to showcase the above stretches so stay tune on my channel, and if you haven't already, please subscribe here for weekly videos on how to stay fit and pain free!

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Till next time! :)


Olivia Ting is an in-house telehealth physiotherapist at Travel Physio. When she's not writing or treating clients for Travel Physio, you'll probably find her chasing sunrises or sunsets on a beautiful mountain somewhere.

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