Stretch for Stress Relief

Why stretch for stress relief?

Emotional stress causes tight, sore muscles, especially in your neck and back - stretching loosens and relaxes your muscles, which in turn relaxes your mind and helps relieve stress.

Regular stretching can help you better deal with stress and help prevent stress too.

Stress relief by basic stretching of your back and neck is easy and very effective when you do it regularly. Learn via the below downloadable videos how to do two common traditional Chinese back and neck stretches for stress relief and other benefits. While the exercises are safe, if you have neck or back problems or haven't exercised for some time check with your health professional first.

Stretch for Stress Relief: Back Twist


Time required: 2-3 minutes

Benefits: Loosens your entire spine and your hips and shoulders; aligns your vertebrae; enhances blood circulation.

How: Stand with your feet parallel and about waist width apart. Slowly start twisting your torso from side to side. Keep your arms loose and let them swing with the force generated by the twisting. Stay evenly balanced on both feet - try not to sway from left to right or front to back. Do 20-30 (or more) twists to each side. Don't stop suddenly - let your arms swing until they naturally come to a stop by your sides. Take a couple of slow, deep breaths.

Tips: Do it on a such a surface that your feet don't move about; an excellent stretch for stress relief as it benefits your whole spine; also a good, single exercise anytime your back feels stiff or as a warm up and loosening exercise for sports and work.

Stretch for Stress Relief: Back Arch


Time required: 2-3 minutes

Benefits: Loosens and stretches your whole back, especially your upper back and neck and your lower back and pelvic area.


1. Stand with your feet parallel about waist width apart. Rest your hands just above your knees, fingers pointing inwards.

2. Exhale through your nose or mouth as you drop your head towards your chest and push your hips and pelvis forward. Feel your entire spine stretching. Don't overstretch your neck though.

3. Inhale as you raise your head up as high as you can and at the same time move your hips and pelvis back the other way until your butt is sticking up. Feel your entire spine arching. Exhale as you drop your head and butt to repeat steps 2 and 3, at least 3 times.

4. As you inhale the final time, stick your butt up (as above) but raise your head only till you're looking straight ahead. Exhale as you turn your head and look over your right shoulder. At the same time lift your right hip and buttock a little. Do not lift your feet though. Feel the right side of your torso tightening.

5. Inhale as you drop your hip and turn your head back to look straight ahead. Exhale as you turn to look over your left shoulder and raise your left hip and buttock. Once again, do not lift your feet. Feel the left side of your torso tightening. Inhale as you drop your hip and turn your head back to the front. Do 3 turns to each side, then finish off by repeating steps 2 and 3 a couple more times.

Tips: Keep the exercise soft and smooth to protect your neck in particular; begin slowly and gradually increase the stretch; an especially good stretch for stress relief when your neck and upper back are tense.

Do the above exercises daily and you will see how it's possible to get effective stress relief by basic stretching. To enhance the effectiveness of the above stretches it is also recommended that you do acupressure for stress.

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