We discussed before and seeing as how it was well received, we decided to continue our little “stretch” series and today we’ll talk about stretching our shoulder girdles.
Stretching our shoulders are important to maintain balance between muscles around our upper back and shoulders. Regular shoulder stretches improves function, posture, and help us look and feel younger and revitalized.
Shoulders are held together by dynamic and static stabilizer muscles. While we want to loosen our shoulders for optimum performance, there is also a danger of overstretching. The danger involves overstretching our static stabilizers. Stretching our static stabilizers too much results to excessive translation of the humeral head anteriorly which can lead to impingement.
Unfortunately, a lot of shoulder and arm stretches put too much emphasis on stretching in the direction that leads to overstretching these particularly muscle groups. Because of this. it is imperative to start slow when performing the exercises below.
1. Shoulder Rolls
Let’s start with something easy and relaxing. From a position of proper alignment, roll shoulders up, then back, then down in a fluid motion. Repeat this movement about 10 times, then reverse it, rolling forward about 10 times.
2. Cow-Face Pose
Here’s something that looks hard but not really. Reach your right arm straight up, then bend the elbow and let your hand fall behind your head. Move your left arm behind the back and bend the arm, letting the back of your left hand rest against the right shoulder blade or near the blade. Reach to grab right fingertips with the left hand. Repeat on the other side.
Do not overdo this exercise. Certain individuals possess impressive shoulder flexibility by default. If you can’t make your fingers touch behind your back, make do with a belt. What matters is you’re stretching, not grasping.
3. Standing Wall Stretch
This is a basic exercise for most people and can also be a good warm up.
Place both hands on a wall so they form a 90-degree angle to your body. Walk feet back until arms are straight and bow, hinging forward at the hips. Keep shoulder blades set back and avoid scrunching shoulders around the neck.
Remember: do not push on the wall, and do not allow your arms to raise up too high to prevent shoulder impingement.
4. Cross-Body Arm Stretch
We’ve all seen this before and you may have done this while waiting for a program to open or for a video to load. Cross a straight right arm across your chest, and use left hand to gently pull right upper arm closer to your body. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, relax, and repeat on the other side.
5. Arm Circles
Time for something fun. Remember those times when you were a kid and didn’t have to worry about tight shoulders because you’re constantly stretching them out? Well, this exercise will remind you of just that!
Standing perpendicular to a wall, make big, slow circles with your arm. Get as close to the wall as you can (coming into contact with it if possible). Repeat 10 times in each direction before turning the other way to rotate the opposite arm. Maintain good posture throughout, especially when moving forward: Do not slouch or round the back forward.
6. Side Lying Thoracic Rotation Stretch
Popularly known as mid back stretch, This is a great exercise not just for your shoulders but also for your mid back or the thoracic spine.
Lie on your right side with legs bent comfortably, so the spine is neutral, and right arm is straight and perpendicular to the body. With left arm on top of right arm, push left arm slightly forward first, then lift it straight up and rotate it back, making a large arch in the air. Let your left arm fall as far as possible to the left side, without allowing your hips to move in the direction of your arm.
Allow your nose and gaze to follow the left arm, slowly turning the neck to the left. Move slowly, holding for a few seconds at the end of the stretch before returning to starting position. Repeat 10 times, then switch to the other side.