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How to Prevent Jigsaw Puzzle Aches and Pains

How to Prevent Jigsaw Puzzle Aches and Pains

Keeping your Body Moving While Puzzling

Hi fellow puzzlers! My name is Rebecca Tamm and I am the owner/operator of Michigan Massage and Wellness in Troy, MI. And, I’m also a puzzler. I’ve been doing puzzles since before the pandemic started, so lucky me, I had a small stash unlike everyone who decided to pick up a new hobby!

My puzzle style is to sit on the floor, hunched over, and often end up in the same position, which may feel comfortable, but I know I’m not doing my body any favors. And I love seeing everyone else’s puzzle set up, from tables, roll up mats, and my personal favorite which is what I use: the liner for a dog crate. It’s great because it slides easily under the couch and because of the rim around it, I don’t need to worry about any pieces falling off (although I discovered several missing pieces when I recently moved my furniture to clean, haha).

The problem with this is that we are putting our bodies in too much flexion where we need to spend time in extension (think: opening up the body instead of closing it down).

So, without further ado, here are a few simple and easy stretches you can do to unwind all of those wound up and bound up tissues.

Neck Stretch:

Place your hands, one stacked over the other, on top of your collarbone. I like to do this right in the middle and you want to think of your hands and arms as a paperweight, not an anchor. You just want to apply a little bit of pressure, but you’re not choking yourself because everybody needs to breathe 😊. Next:

  • Drop your chin to your chest

  • Deep inhale

  • Exhale as you continue to gently rest your hands on your clavicle and start to raise your chin up toward the ceiling

  • When you start to feel a stretch in the front of your neck, it might feel like a pulling, but just go to your ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ place and slowly start to do little ‘chin rainbows’. Think of tracing an arc/half circle/rainbow to further explore the depth of those wound up tissues, it’s like clearing out the cobwebs in your body. 

  • Continue with that, and just explore the tight areas, weave your head around, incorporate some movement!

  • After about 60-90 seconds, slowly bring your chin back down to your chest, one more deep inhale and exhale and slowly drop your hands

Now, you should feel an increase in the range of motion in your neck and this is a fantastic stretch for anyone, puzzler or not!

Seated Hip Stretch:

This one couldn’t be easier and is on my list of ‘must do’ for anyone who sits. Obviously you’ll need a chair, and I like to scoot my butt to the edge of the chair.

  • Cross your legs so your right ankle is on top of your left thigh

  • With a straight spine, take a deep breath in, sit up nice and tall and on the exhale, hinge forward until you feel a stretch in your right hip/buttock area. Depending on how tight you are you might even feel this in your low back. But it’s important to keep your back straight and think of hinging from the hips, you’re not just rounding your back. This is going to help you not only protect your spine but also target those grouchy hips a little more.

  • Feel free to shift your upper body from side to side in kind of a rocking motion to again, clear those fascial cobwebs out.

  • Spend about 60-90 seconds before switching sides

  • Repeat on the other side and then get up and jump for joy because your hips feel amazing and you can’t believe you have lived as long as you did without this stretch in your life 😊

Even if you incorporate just these 2 simple stretches in your puzzling hours, you’ll benefit from them. My approach is one designed for people who are pressed for time, because the last thing you need is one more thing taking up an hour of your day on your schedule, am I right? And that is why I created Stretch Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself, an online stretching and mobility program designed for busy people who want to take the guesswork out of HOW to fix their movement problems and body aches and pains and all you do is press play, follow along and in as little as 3-5 minutes per day, you’ll get relief from what ails you. And because it’s self paced you can just do the lessons as described or you can create your own longer self care routine based on whatever aches and pains you are having that day. 

For more information, follow along at any of our social media channels!
Rebecca Tamm is a self described 'body ninja' and for the past 17 years she has spent her days fixing people when they break themselves. Her business, Michigan Massage and Wellness, is going to be 16 this year and her and her staff offer a variety of massage and bodywork modalities to the residents of Metro Detroit. In addition to her in person massage, bodywork and stretching/mobility classes she also has an online program for remote workers who are looking for a quick and easy solution to their problems that come with being stuck at a desk all day. When she isn't working she loves to travel and has a goal to visit all 50 states (halfway there) and all 7 continents (3 down, 4 to go) and can usually be found on the water when it's warm or hibernating indoors with her dogs, Elliot and Cooper, when it's cold.  Photo credit:
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