After you've spent a long day hunched over a computer, the muscles in your neck and shoulders can feel like steel cables. Here's a great self-massage move using yoga therapy balls (or tennis balls) to rub away the tension. Called the trapezius tamer, this massage technique is demonstrated here by fitness instructor Jill Miller, who uses it in the Rx Series classes she developed for Equinox gyms.
What it does
The balls roll and dig into the rhomboid and trapezius muscles and connective tissue, working out the kinks.
What to do
Start in a seated bent leg position on the floor with a therapy ball in your right hand. Roll down to the floor and place the ball at the purse or backpack strap line just behind the top of your left shoulder. Put your left arm flat on the floor in a goal post shape, with your other arm long beside you, and lift your bottom up a little bit so you can perch on the ball and roll it underneath you.
From here, you're gong to inhale and reach your left arm over your head and to the right, pushing your left rib cage and hip out slightly, to help roll the ball diagonally and down from your shoulder to the side of your spine. You can push into your heels to help move the ball where you want it to go. Exhale and bring the arm and rib cage back to start, rolling the ball back to the position behind your shoulder. Perform all repetitions and then switch sides, with the ball behind your right shoulder, reaching with your right arm.
If the pressure is too much and you need to modify the move, you can perform it standing against the wall, rather than on the floor.
Do eight to 12 repetitions of the move on each side.