Stretching has always been a hotly discussed topic. In the new issue of the German magazine „Trainer“, the headline “Stop Stretching” is already provocatively written on the cover. I can’t join that in any case! I am an avowed stretching fan and, since I got to know Yin Yoga, also a stretching junkie!
Stretching has many advantages, for example
- improvement of the range of motion
- compensation of muscle shortening
- faster regeneration after sports (in our case after headbanging) by lowering muscle tone
- prevention of muscle soreness
- stress reduction and relaxation promotion
If you want to know more about stretching – stay tuned! Totally „stretched“ I will deal with the topic in the next blog post.
Today I show you some soft stretching exercises. These exercises help to relax your neck, shoulders and upper back musculature.
Just to know what we are talking about
A short introduction to neck and shoulder muscles
Many muscles in neck and shoulder, and even on the back, are involved to move the head. I would like to give you a little overview of the muscles I usually have sore after headbanging:
The scalenus muscles can be found on the sides of the neck. They are responsible for the flexion of the cervical spine.
In addition, the platysma muscle is lateral to the neck. When the muscle contracts, the lower jaw, the corners of the mouth and the lower lip are pulled down.
The sternocleidomastoid muscle also belongs to the lateral vertebral muscles of the neck. Its task is the lateral inclination of the head in the direction of the shoulder as well as a slight flexion to the rear.
Below sternocleidomastoid muscle is the levator scapulae muscle. This muscle lifts the shoulder. When the muscle is fixed, it tilts the neck to the side. It is a tonic muscle, which means that it tends to shorten and tension. Regular stretching sessions can prevent this and the associated head and neck pain.
An important muscle that moves the shoulder and turns the head to the opposite side when the shoulder blade is fixed is the trapezius muscle. It is regarded as the neck muscle par excellence. The descending part of the trapezius muscle is also prone to shortening and tension and should be stretched particularly frequently to prevent muscular imbalances.
The muscle longissimus capitis is responsible for tilting the head to the side, for turning the head and for bending the head backwards.
Before we start stretching our muscles, please read the answers to
When you do stretching exercises that can be done on the right and left side, start with the worse side.
You should always slowly stretch and keep the stretch controlled.
While stretching exhale into the stretched musculature and try to expand the stretch.
The stretch should be hold for about 20 seconds.
Then loosen again slowly and controlled.
In the best case you would do the stretching exercises right after headbanging. Because warmed up muscles stretch much better. But depending on how much alcohol you had, this might not be such a good idea.
Alternatively, the next day you can shake your head and dance a little bit in your kitchen – just like I love to do. Or warm up your muscles by slightly circling your head and shoulders.
And here they are, the
Neck Stretch Dark Exercises
Stretching of the lateral neck musculature
Stand upright and cross your hands behind your back. You deliberately pull your shoulders downwards. Look straight ahead and slowly tilt your head towards your shoulder. Please make sure that your shoulders stay down when you tilt your head.
The levator scapulae muscle, the trapezius muscle and the sternocleidomastoid muscleare stretched beautifully here.
Stretching of the lateral neck musculature with rotation
The stand remains upright and the hands behind the back crossed. The shoulders are actively pulled down. Now slowly turn your chin towards your shoulder. The head and chin remain upright.
Here the sternocleidomastoid muscle, the muscle longissimus capitis, the levator scapulae muscleand the trapezius muscle are stretched.
Of course, you do both exercises to each side once.
Stretching of the neck musculature – flexion
Stand upright and let your chin drop towards your chest. The shoulders remain relaxed.
The levator scapulae muscle, the trapezius muscle and the muscle longissimus capitis are stretched in this exercise.
Stretching of the neck musculature – extension
Now lift your head and look up, the chin pushes towards the ceiling. Keep your shoulders relaxed. It is important that you close your mouth and jaw. This is the only way to gain optimal stretching.
During the extension, the platysma muscleand the sternocleidomastoid muscleare stretched.
Stretching the neck musculature with the neck pushed forward – protraction
The head and especially the chin are pushed forward from the upright position. Hold your head and chin elevated. I also like to call this exercise “turtle”. Look at the photo and you will know why…
In the “turtle” the following muscles are stretched: the muscle longissimus cervicis, which is the extension of the muscle longissimus capitis, the levator scapulae muscle and the trapezius muscle.
Stretching of the upper back musclature with crossed arms
By way of variety an exercise with bent knees. Cross your arms in front of your body, the slopes reach into the knee joints. Now slowly straighten up until you feel a stretch in your shoulders and upper back. Keep your shoulders horizontal and your upper body straight forward.
By our muscles mentioned above the trapezius muscle is wonderfully stretched.
Stretching the shoulder and back musculature with folded arms
Standing up, you hug yourselves. You have done it. A wonderful stretching unit is over and your maltreated neck, shoulder and back muscles are better again. Embrace, gently pull your shoulders forward and make a pronounced round back.
The hug also stretches our trapezius muscle, along with some other muscles.
I hope these exercises helped you to relieve aching muscles after headbanging.
As mentioned above: In the next blog you will find detailed information about stretching.
A very special stretching is Yin Yoga. I will make a blog post about it soon. Rejoice! Because for Yin Yoga I have created a wonderful playlist again…
So – stay tuned and have fun the next time headbanging!