“I want to make fitness simple and attainable for busy women”

-Allison Lambert

The Fit Tutor

Try This If You Carry Your Stress in Your Neck & Upper Back

Carrying your stress in your neck and upper back leads to a host of problems. Headaches, constant tension, pain, and muscular imbalances are just a few. Do you always feel like your shoulders are near your ears? Do you always feel like you need a massage? Is your neck always tense? If so, these exercises will help you feel like a new human.

Trust me, a trainer who notoriously carries stress in my neck and upper back – mainly my trapezius muscle. Any stress or anxiety is carried on the top of my traps- whether it’s from watching an awkward scene in Modern Family or actual real-life stuff like hard conversations or that flashy entrepreneur life. Here are my go-to’s I wish I would have discovered earlier!

If you carry your stress in your neck and shoulders, these lacrosse balls can help you out! Try these 3 moves with them ASAP!

Image Credit: Original by sv :Användare: Chrizz, 27 maj 2005, CC License

What You Need

To give yourself the next best thing to a live-in masseuse, you’ll need two lacrosse balls. Tennis balls will do, especially if your pain tolerance is low or your muscles are just that tight (no judgment here!). Lacrosse balls really do the trick to work out your tight, stress-carrying muscles. You can get them cheap at your local sporting goods store, or order these from Amazon!

If you carry your stress in your neck and shoulders, these lacrosse balls can help you out! Try these 3 moves with them ASAP!

Order Here*

3 Exercises for People Who Carry Stress in Their Neck and Upper Back

We’re starting with my fave. This is called a smash extension because you’re smashing the tissue.  Smashing is a good thing in this context, as is (s)mashing potatoes, Smashing Pumpkins, and trying your best British accent… “Smashing, Darling!” Is this an OK time to confess that all my accents sound like a pirate? No? Let’s continue…

I’m demonstrating all of these on the floor because I’m not messing around here.  You can take some of the pressure off and relieve the pain that comes with the actual process of becoming pain-free by doing these standing up against a wall!

Lacrosse Ball Smash Extension

Start out with two lacrosse or tennis balls between your shoulder blade and spine, on both sides of your body. You can also start out with just one. You can really put them anywhere that hurts around this area- just not directly on your spine.

  1. Hug your arms around your body
  2. Lie back over the balls, trying not to arch your lower back
  3. Crunch up and then extend again
  4. Lift into a glute bridge to increase the pressure (optional)

While in this position, I love to just roll the lacrosse balls up and down the muscles next to my spine like I would with a foam roller. Spend around 10 seconds on each section and then move on, spending more time on more painful areas. You can put pressure on the area, relax, and then do it again, employing a method called contract and relax.

Overhead Lacrosse Ball Mobilization

For this technique you’ll start with one lacrosse ball on the area between your shoulder blade and spine- just about the same as the last one. Move it around a little until you feel it’s on tight tissue.

  1. Keeping your arm straight and elbow locked out, lift your arm overhead, keeping your shoulder blade in place
  2. Next, bring your arm across your body to the opposite hip
  3. Lift into a glute bridge to increase the pressure (optional)
  4. After “scrubbing” the area, try the contract and relax method
  5. Find more pain points and move your arms around other ways as well
  6. Repeat on the other side

Lacrosse Ball Trap Scrub

You may have gathered by now since we’re using verbs like smash and scrub that what we’re doing doesn’t exactly feel like sunshine and rainbows! You will when you’re done ;)

For this one, place one or two lacrosse balls on your traps, above your shoulder blade and between your neck and shoulder.

  1. Lift your arms while keeping your shoulder blades down and in place
  2. Move your arms from side to side, like you’re driving a truck with a giant steering wheel
  3. Do this same thing in a glute bridge position (optional)
  4. Work out any other tight spots by moving your arms around
  5. Repeat on the other side

How Often Should You Do These?

These make good warm-ups and cool-downs for workouts, a solution to pain on a stressful day, and a nice way to wind down your evening before bed. Basically, you can do them anytime.

When you first start out I’d suggest doing each for less than a minute per side and then give yourself a day in between. After you get used to it, do them as often as you need. You’ll get the most out of these exercises if you do them a few times per week. Hopefully, you’ll start to need them less and less!

Try all at your own risk. Please speak with your doctor before trying these movements. 

How Do These Exercises Work?

Using lacrosse balls is a way to level up your myofascial release. They help loosen the fascia around your muscle so the underlying tissue can move as intended. Self-myofascial release may also decrease soreness while increasing mobility and performance. Party on!

Lacrosse balls are harder, more effective for certain muscles, and they can isolate areas in your back that foam rollers can’t.

Final Thoughts About Fascia and Fitness

Try them and let me know what you think. I get down on the floor in pain – I carry stress and injure myself sleeping on a regular basis… Hooray 30’s!and stand up feeling brand new. I’m not even kidding.

After you master these, you could try to be aware of your stress in the moment so you stop carrying it so heavily in your neck and back, and perhaps even attempt to decrease it?

Think about it, but go ahead and start with these 3 moves.

I’m so ridiculously excited for you to try them!

Book Rec

If you like nerding out over this stuff, I learned these exercises via Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book Becoming a Supple Leopard*. It’s a whole textbook and not for the faint of heart, but it’s a gold mine for lifting form and mobility work!

Lifestyle Must

Speaking of lifting, if you’re a woman and you’re not lifting weights, let’s chat. Ladies need to lift not only to reverse age-related weight gain and muscle loss, but also to look and feel amazing and beast your daily tasks. Lifting weights > than cardio to get you feeling confident in your clothes and help you feel energetic! Let’s talk about your transformation today.

Thanks for stopping by. Try these and come back to tell me how you liked them!

*= affiliate link. All the pennies go back into The Fit Tutor at no extra cost to you! High five yourself for supporting a small biz! I appreciate you!

If you carry your stress in your neck and upper back, these 3 moves will make you feel brand new!

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