Neck and Upper Back Relief

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Last summer I had the privilege of teaching yoga in Scotland. I worked with golfers from all over the world as well as European PGA professionals. One of my life dreams was to play golf in Scotland and my excitement lead me into a series of golf lessons with the local pro. He is a very good teacher and he wanted me to change most of my swing mechanics. Bad idea! To make a long story short, I am a decent golfer, 16 handicap, who hits the ball consistently long off the tee. I literally could not make contact after a few days of lessons and more importantly I had serious pain in my cervical spine.
 
Due to this pain, I devised a series of neck stretches, including the rhomboid muscles. I decided to go back to my old swing mechanics and proceeded to have one of the best golf trips in my life!
 
If you struggle with neck pain, originating from your swing mechanics, lifestyle or genetic predisposition, the following stretches will help you alleviate discomfort.
 
Lets begin!
 
Seated neck stretch:

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Turn your head to the right and gently place the left hand on the left cheek. Put slight pressure on your cheek, hold for three to five deep breaths, remove the hand and bring the head back to the neutral position. Switch sides.
 
Chin to chest stretch:

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Tuck your chin into your chest and gently place your hands on the back of your head. Gently press your head into your hands and hands into your head for an isometric stretch. Hold for five breaths and repeat three times.
 
Upper trap stretch:

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Sit on the edge of the chair and bring the left ear towards the left shoulder. Place the right hand under the seat of the chair or under your hamstring. Gently pull up on the chair focusing on the stretch in the upper trap and into the neck. Hold for three breaths.
 
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To come out of the stretch, release the right arm completely and use your left hand to bring your head back to the neutral position. Switch sides.
 
Standing rhomboid stretch:

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Stand with the feet hip width apart, bend the knees and pull your navel towards your spine. Clasp the hands with the palms facing you, drop the shoulders down, tuck the chin into the chest and press the hands away from the body. Focus on the mid to upper back. Hold for five breaths, relax and repeat three times.
 
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    Editor's Note: Katherine Roberts, founder of Yoga for Golfers, has over 20 years of experience in fitness training, yoga studies, professional coaching and motivation. Katherine welcomes your email questions and comments, contact her at Katherine@YogaForGolfers.com or visit www.YogaForGolfers.com.