Lateral Neck Release

The Lateral Neck Release is meant to loosen up your neck (as are the previous two warm-up exercises). We provide many neck-and-shoulder exercises because these areas are the primary places where most people carry stress. Where do you think the expression "a pain in the neck" came from?

Grab your hand weights and follow these steps:

1. Stand looking straight ahead with your feet below your hips and your arms dangling at your sides, holding the weights with your palms facing inward.

This is the starting position. Make sure your feet are parallel.

2. Exhaling slowly, lower your right ear toward your right shoulder (see Figure 6-3); hold this pose for two or three slow breaths.

Concentrate on the left side of your neck stretching and your left ear lifting up. Don't allow your chin to droop toward your chest. Also, concentrate on your breath opening and relaxing your neck and shoulders.

Figure 6-3:

Alleviate your pain in the neck with the Lateral Neck Release.

Figure 6-3:

Alleviate your pain in the neck with the Lateral Neck Release.

Don't stay in this position for more than three breaths; it's easy to overstretch your neck in this position.

3. Inhaling slowly, return your head to the starting position (see Step 1).

Alternating sides after each repetition, repeat this exercise three to six times with each side of your neck.

Backward Shoulder Roll

The Backward Shoulder Roll loosens and relaxes the back of your shoulders and the upper back region. Time to shoulder the burden.

Pick up your hand weights and follow these steps:

1. Stand looking straight ahead with your feet below your hips and your arms dangling at your sides, holding the weights with your palms facing inward; inhale to a count of four.

This is the starting position. Make sure your feet are parallel.

2. Exhaling slowly, roll your shoulders up, back, and then down (see Figure 6-4).

Allow the hand weights to draw your shoulders down when you lower your shoulders; the weights allow for a deeper stretch.

3. Continue the rolling motion — moving your shoulders up, back, and then down — until they're loose as a goose.

Don't roll your shoulders forward; in other words, don't slouch. Repeat this exercise three to six times.

Figure 6-4:

Loosen up your shoulders — no slouching allowed!

Figure 6-4:

Loosen up your shoulders — no slouching allowed!

Forward Shoulder Roll

The Forward Shoulder Roll, like the Backward Shoulder Roll (see the previous exercise), loosens up and helps to relax the muscles of the front of your shoulders, your upper chest, and your back. The Forward Shoulder Roll and the Backward Shoulder Roll go hand in hand, creating a balanced workout for this area of your body.

Engage your abdominal muscles throughout this exercise to support your back.

You need hand weights for this exercise. When you're ready, follow these steps:

1. Stand looking straight ahead with your feet below your hips and your arms dangling at your sides, holding the weights with your palms facing inward; inhale to a count of four.

This is the starting position. Make sure your feet are parallel.

2. Exhaling slowly, roll your shoulders up, forward, and then down (see Figure 6-5).

As you roll your shoulders forward and down, allow the weights to pull your shoulders in the proper direction. Concentrate on your shoulder blades widening.

3. Continue this motion — going up, forward, and then down — until your shoulders feel loose.

Repeat this exercise three to six times.

Figure 6-5:

Improve flexibility and strength in your shoulders with the Forward Shoulder

Figure 6-5:

Improve flexibility and strength in your shoulders with the Forward Shoulder

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