Postpartum Neck and Shoulder Stretches

My beautiful baby boy was born 3 months ago. We’ve enjoyed countless cuddles and nursing sessions since his birth. He loves to be held and carried in our Ergo baby carrier. These are wonderful, special moments of bonding. But it is also wrecking havoc on my neck and shoulders. Most mornings I wake up with so much tension that I have a headache. (This could also be from lack of sleep!) I use a heating pad for my neck regularly and I have been lucky enough to have had a couple massages. But I have found that I feel best when I take time each day to do some simple stretches. If you have time during baby’s nap time, you can do them all in about 10 minutes or less. Or you can do them one at a time throughout the day, which is what I do most of the time.

Even though I am using these stretches for tightness I have accumulated postpartum, they are really good for anyone wanting to release tension in their neck and shoulders. It could be that you sit long hours at a desk, have a long commute, or maybe spend a lot of time on your phone. Whatever the reason, give these simple stretches a shot!

*Note: Always check with your doctor before exercising postpartum.

  1. Cat Cow from Table Top

Starting on your hands and knees, exhale to round your spine. Inhale to reach your chest forward and widen across your collarbones. Focus the movement at your upper back. Relax your jaw and tongue. Take several rounds with slow breaths.

2. Shoulder Thread the Needle

From a table top position, take your left hand and slide it behind your right wrist. Reach out until the back of your left arm rests on the floor. Place the left side of your forehead onto the floor or a folded blanket or block. Press through your right palm and widen across the front of your chest. Breathe into your upper back and chest. Relax at the space between your eyebrows. Do the second side for the same amount of breaths.

*Optional to take the right hand and wrap it around to the top of your left thigh.

3. Cat Cow – Seated

From a cross legged seat or sitting in a chair, exhale to round your spine and inhale to move into a small backbend. Soften at the base of your neck. Take 10 or more cycles with your breath moving slowly in and out of your lungs.

4. Goal Post Arms into Garudasana (Eagle) Arms

Take your arms out like a goal post. Widen across your collarbones and breathe into your chest. Exhaling, cross your right arm under your left and bring your upper arms parallel to the ground. Bring the forearms perpendicular to the floor and either press the back of the hands together or cross at the wrists and press the palms together. Holding, direct your breath into your upper back. Unclench your teeth and relax your lips. Repeat with the left arm crossing under the right.

5. Seated Twist

Sit an arms distance away from a wall. Inhale, reach your arms overhead, exhale, twist to the right. Place your right fingertips on the wall at shoulder height. Place your left hand on your right knee. Every inhale, lengthen your spine. Every exhale, draw your navel in and up. Take at least 5 breaths here. Repeat twisting to the left.

*Optional to turn your gaze toward the wall.