How to Relieve Upper-Body Tension and Pain with a Simple Workout

So much of our daily activities are carried out with our hands, shoulders, and necks that we develop chronic upper-body tension. But the real problem goes way beyond the areas where we feel the tension.

One simple way to see how this plays out in your life is to think about what your body is doing when you are typing an email. Muscles of your fingers, hands, shoulders, and neck are working to type the email, but your hips and legs are not doing anything at all. This pattern carries over into many of the activities we do throughout our days — like reading and responding to text messages or sitting in a conference room at a work meeting.

How to Relieve Upper-Body Tension and Pain with a Simple WorkoutFor this reason, most of us are what’s known as “upper body dominant,” and due to the amount of time we spend sitting and not moving our hips and legs, our lower bodies have lost their ability to support the proper alignment and function of our upper body.

Think of the exercise sequence I am showing you here as a reunion of your upper half with your lower half. When the lower legs and hips are activated, then our upper bodies no longer have to work in overtime, and we no longer have to suffer from chronic upper-body tension.

The reason I recommend doing this routine daily is to retrain our muscle memory. The body needs a reminder of its correct way of functioning, and by providing our body a daily reminder of how it’s supposed to work, we can bring things back to neutral and keep it there. That also means that if you are diligent with these exercises, you will notice progress as each day goes by.

I hope you find these exercises to be both beneficial, and rewarding.

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Relieve Upper-Body Tension with This 10-Minute Workout

To get relief from tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back, try the following short routine that will take you 10 minutes per day:

  1. Wall stretch, 1 minute
  2. Static wall, 4 minutes
  3. Static back reverse presses, 3 sets of 10 reps
  4. Static back pull-overs, 3 sets of 10 reps

Watch these videos for demonstrations of each exercise:

1. Wall Stretch

2. Static Wall

3. Static Back Reverse Presses and Back Pull-overs

Tips for success:

  • Pay careful attention to the instructions to tighten the thighs in the wall stretch and static wall. Remember, we are mostly upper-body dominant due to our lifestyles, and re-engaging the muscles of the lower body is a critical step in reducing unwanted tension in the neck, shoulders, and upper back.
  • During the static back reverse presses and pull overs be sure to relax the belly, take your time, and breathe.
Photo (CC BY 2.0) by Güel – Centro de Wellness Murcia


Maryann Berry
At the age of 27, Maryann Berry suffered from chronic hip pain that left her in a wheelchair, even after consulting with over twenty healthcare professionals and undergoing invasive hip surgery. Today, Maryann is fully recovered and has been wheelchair free for years.

Maryann, who is currently certified as a Posture Alignment Specialist and a Personal Trainer, created Realign as a way to empower others to take responsibility for their own health the same way she did. Maryann works with people online via Skype, as well as in-person at her studio in San Diego, California.

To learn more about Maryann's programs, visit Realign Therapy. Maryann is also the founder of The Posture Workout a revolutionary online form of Posture Alignment Therapy that makes this method easily accessible for everyone.

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