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What causes tight shoulders?

Many of us hold tension and tightness in our neck and shoulders. A common expression is ‘my shoulders are up around my ears’ or ‘the weight of the world is on my shoulders’.


This tension and tightness is our muscles contracting and is a common reflex reaction to stress (1). It can also be caused by sitting at our desks for long periods of time, repeating a movement over and over, or increased workloads. Shoulder soft tissue (muscles, ligaments, tendons, etc.) often tenses when it is inflamed and overstrained.



There are quite a few muscles involved in moving our shoulder and neck. If you’d like to learn more about these muscle groups, Get Body Smart has some simple interactive diagrams of the shoulder and neck muscles (2).


There are a few ways you can let go of shoulder tension:

  1. Breathe – often under stress we breathe only into the top part of our chest. Take note of how you are breathing, and bring your breath into your belly.

  2. Move & stretch – our bodies love to move. Build some simple shoulder roles into your day, stretch your arms when you are waiting for the kettle to boil, move your neck gently from side to side in between meetings.

  3. See a health professional – if there is pain, see your GP or your physio/chiro/osteopath.

  4. Get a massage – a massage is about giving your body space again, loosening up those tight muscles to get your connective tissue moving freely again.


If you would like to book a massage with Capital Hill Remedial Massage, visit our booking page.



References:

1. Stress affects on the body - American Psychological Association - Accessed online 24 Oct 23 - https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/body#:~:text=Muscle%20tension%20is%20almost%20a,less%20constant%20state%20of%20guardedness

2. Get Body Smart - Accessed online 24 Oct 23 - https://www.getbodysmart.com/




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