There are few things worse than living life in pain. Trying to go about your day with an achy back, neck or legs can be a struggle and doesn't just keep you from completing your day-to-day activities — it's emotionally draining, too.
Not to mention that chronic pain often comes with other health issues — from sleep disturbance to mood changes — which can prevent you from doing the things you love. Luckily there are exercises that can help, and some are simple enough you can do them almost anywhere.
Sue Hitzmann, creator of the MELT Method, showed us five moves that help her clients fall asleep easily, sleep soundly, have more energy during the day, reduce stress and tension and feel how they've been wanting to feel.
What You Need
These moves use a MELT Soft Body Roller, but if you don't have a soft roller, try draping a yoga mat over a conventional firm foam roller or laying on a rolled-up towel. The first move uses a MELT Treatment ball, but you can sub in any small soft ball.
This is one simple thing you can do for yourself even when you're at work. A lot of the time we have neck and foot tension that's causing neck and low back pain. This move is an easy way to stimulate your lymphatic system so you can release some of that tension, Hitzmann says.
How It's Done: Start by rubbing the ball quickly between both hands, then repeat on both feet: Use light, quick movements to rub your foot and toes over the large ball in a scribble-like motion.
2. Neck Turn
If you carry heavy bags on your shoulders, you might suffer from neck pain that can then cause migraines and tension headaches, Hitzmann says.
How It's Done: Lie along the length of the roller. Keeping the back of your head heavy, reach your right arm out and down to the side and press your palm to the floor. Turn your head slightly to the left, just until you feel the stretch along your right arm. Hold for three deep, focused breaths and return to the center. Switch sides and repeat.
3. Back Thigh Shear
Sitting at your desk all day not only causes low back pain, but also that thing most women dread: cellulite. This move rehydrates the connective tissue on the back of the legs to reduce low back pain and cellulite at the same time, says Hitzmann.
How It's Done: Place the roller under your upper thighs. Your legs are relaxed and straight. Slowly drag your legs together and apart like jumping jacks to "shear" the back of the thighs four to five times. Bend one leg and relax it on the roller, and then drag the other leg in and out four to five times. Repeat on the other thigh.
Straighten and relax your legs again. Pause and take two focused breaths while you let the tissue adapt. Move the roller halfway down your thighs and repeat the techniques, and then move it just above your knees and repeat.
4. Bent Knee Press
Another thing that happens when you sit all day is the compression in your hip flexors, which can lead to low back pain and neck tension. This is an easy move to pull back the hip flexors and relieve some of the tension caused by sitting, says Hitzmann.
How It's Done: Place the roller underneath your pelvis. With your left foot on the floor, bring your right knee toward your chest. Interlace your hands loosely over your right shin. Keep your pelvis square on the roller. Keep the left foot heavy and the left knee in line with your sitz bones as you tuck your pelvis. Gently pull your right knee closer to your chest to increase the tuck. Hold for three focused breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
5. Shoulder Blade Reach
A lot of people have neck tension and shoulder issues from keeping their heads pitched forward and the shoulder blades curved inward, Hitzmann says.
How It's Done: Lie along the length of the roller. With your arms reaching straight out above you, reach your hands toward the ceiling, palms facing in, as if you're holding a box right over your lower ribs. Breathe in, keeping your arms straight and reaching your fingertips toward the ceiling. On the exhale, allow the weight of your arms to sink your shoulder blades down without bending your elbows. Repeat this motion five to 10 times.