// By Jennifer Kelly Geddes for Discover and Play

The kids, your job, endless laundry — and even up in the air Valentine’s Day plans can conspire to ratchet up the tension in your body, leaving behind a tangle of aches and pains. Of course, a trip to a day spa or even a quickie massage would work wonders, but finding the time (and money!) is a problem in itself. Take matters into your own hands, literally, and smooth out the kinks with a few simple moves. Stretching is important for good health because it increases blood flow and improves circulation. The following exercises can be done almost anywhere and take just minutes. So what are you waiting for? Get stretching!

Knotty Neck
Cradling a phone or a baby — or both at the same time — can strain your neck and give you a headache. To relax this area, lift your left hand over your head and place it on your right temple. Gently ease your head to the left and hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Do the same move on the opposite side and then repeat.

Stressed Shoulders
Tension settles into the shoulder area and can take root, spreading to your neck and back. Work out these sore spots by doing a series of shrugs: scrunch up your shoulders, hold them for a few seconds and then slowly release them down. Repeat several times, rolling your shoulders back and forth each time.

Creaky Chest
Leaning over a computer all day can result in a hunched back, which tends to curve the chest inward. Open this area up by clasping your hands behind you and then lifting them up as high as you can while pulling your shoulders back. Hold this position, breathe deeply and then repeat.

Bad Back
Carrying groceries, pushing a vacuum and toting kids on your hip can contribute to back strain. This can be fixed with an easy bending move, which serves to relax your entire upper body. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and gently lean forward and roll down, allowing your arms and head to hang loosely. Slowly nod your head “yes,” and then shake it “no” as you breathe into the stretch.

Jennifer Kelly Geddes is a New York-based writer and editor who has written for Parenting, iVillage.com and Time Out New York Kids. She frequently contributes to Go Vibrant.

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