Shoulder stretches. We seem to only talk about our shoulders when it comes to sculpting them to show them off in warm summer months. Here’s the thing though, your shoulder joint is actually the most flexible joint in your entire body. Don’t believe me? Simply hold your arm out to the side, now move it up and down and rotate it… See? There’s no other joint that can perform those movements. Since there is so much going on it’s important to keep your shoulders and the surrounding muscles relaxed and supple.
Tight shoulders can cause a stiff neck which translates to headaches or even shooting pains down your arm and into your wrists and fingers. Let’s take a minute to consider our lifestyles, which for many of us mean hours spent hunched in front of computer screens or bent over our phones texting. Not only is bad posture unattractive, but when your shoulders are rounded forward your head is also shifted forward and this causes muscle imbalances. First, it means that your pectoral muscles are shorter and tighter than the corresponding back muscles. Also, your head (which weighs roughly 8-12lbs) pulls your body forward putting unwanted stress on your back which in turn pulls on your hips and knees.
Since the shoulder is so complex, you actually need to consider a number of muscles when looking at strength and flexibility. They are: deltoids, trapezius, rhomboids, teres, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, biceps and triceps. All of these muscles either attach directly to the shoulder or support its mobility.
There are many reasons for shoulder pain (they can include the nerves, muscles, bones or ligaments) but whichever kind of pain you have, it can severely impede your day to day life. Luckily there are a number of stretches that you can do throughout the day to help ease pain and discomfort.
Crossover stretch. This is an easy one and can be done either seated or standing. Simply pull one arm across your chest. Gently hold it there with your other arm for about 30 seconds. You should feel this on the back of your shoulder.
Triceps. Take one arm over your head and bend your elbow reaching your finger tips toward your shoulder blades. With the other hand, gently press on your elbow. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. This stretch can also be done holding a strap behind your back.
Wall Extensions both arms. Standing in a door frame bend your elbows at 90 degrees palms up and facing forward. Place your forearms on either side of the door frame and lean forward. You should feel a deep stretch across the front of your shoulders and pectoral muscles. Tip: if door frames are uncomfortable for your body, you can also perform this stretch in any room corner. Place your elbows on the perpendicular walls and gently lean into the corner. For maximum effect, repeat with your arms above, level with and below your head.
Wall extension one arm. Standing sideways to a wall, place your arm lengthwise across the wall behind you palm facing in. Keeping your body straight and hip touching the wall slowly turn away from it.
Cobra. Do this stretch lying on your stomach or standing. Reach behind your back and clasp your hand together. Make sure that your abdominal muscles are engaged while you gently press your arms away from you while opening your chest.
Since the shoulder joint is such a complex system, consult a physiotherapist if you are experiencing any pain.
Do you stretch your shoulders on a regular basis?