Loosen Up: 3 Tips for Healthier Shoulders
As adults, we tend to settle for whatever “natural limitations” life throws at our bodies. We’ve been taught that getting stiff and achy is a part of life – and aging – that we all need to accept—but we don’t! Your joints tighten up when they are not being used enough, or if they are being used too much in the wrong position. Dull aches and pains appear fine at first, but then, before you know it, it’s like somebody hits a switch and instead a feeling a small ache, the burning sensation kicks in.
If you suffer from tight shoulders, you know what I’m talking about. Everything from tucking in your shirt to reaching into the back seat of your car can be extremely difficult or uncomfortable. Sometimes, it can even be painful. Don’t sit around letting your tight shoulders control your freedom; use these exercises to help aid in your recovery and protect your shoulders against future strain. Take your life back by starting to remobilize your stiff shoulders! Try the following 3 exercises to get to work today:
While there are many different factors that can affect your shoulders’ health, tight muscles that pull on the joint often cause those tedious pains that you’ve been trying to ignore. Working to loosen these muscles will help you to find relief. Give the Vertical Chicken stretch a shot!
This stretch can be done using a number of different objects found in your own home such as a broomstick or belt. You can also use a towel, t-shirt, or any other small, light-weight object that can easily be held in your hands. Just make sure that you use something that allows you to get a good grip.
Start by grabbing hold of the broomstick or belt with one hand and placing it behind your head or neck with your palm towards your body, just as you would naturally. Then, take your free-hand and reach behind your back, with your palm facing outward, and grab onto the broomstick or belt.
Beginning with the hands a fair distance apart, lightly pull your top hand towards the ceiling while simultaneously pulling your bottom hand towards the ground for 5-10 seconds, then relax. As you relax, scoot your hands closer together using the broomstick or belt to guide you. Repeat this process 3-4 times.
As you pull your hands apart, your body will instinctively send blood through your joints and muscles. As you relax and stretch your hands closer together, your blood will begin the healing process. Remember to start with a low-intensity stretch the first few times you do this exercise. Pulling too hard, or stretching too far can make your tight spots feel worse, or cause injury.
Get your blood pumping with exercises like this from the Fundamentals course.
As you probably know, your blood has the fantastic ability to help repair damaged tissue inside of your body. Increasing the blood flow to the muscles that surround your shoulders will help your body begin to rejuvenate. Shoulder circles are a great way to activate your muscles and accelerate your body’s healing.
You can choose to do this movement either standing or seated. As long as your spine is straight, your core is engaged and your arms are by your sides, you’re ready to go. Begin by shrugging your shoulders all the way to your ears, then move them forward in a 360-degree circle. As you circle your shoulders, focus on elevating them to your ears at the top, pinching them together in the front, depressing them as low as possible at the bottom, and pulling them together behind you in the back of each circle. Do 10-15 circles forward, then 10-15 circles backward.
This will help you to activate most of the large muscles that surround your shoulder as well as many of the smaller ones. If your shoulder circles feel comfortable, you can also target different parts of the shoulder by holding your hands out to the side, or lifting them above your head as you do your circles.
Static Fly Stretch
Now that your blood is flowing and you’ve begun to loosen the muscles surrounding your shoulders, you are ready to dive deeper into the joint. The Fly Stretch will help you to open up your chest while simultaneously activating your upper back for deep joint relief.
Like the Vertical Chicken stretch, the Fly Stretch can be done using a number of household items. For this exercise, you will need to use something that is not only strong and easy to hold on to, but something that will also allow you to place your hands further apart than they were in Vertical Chicken. A broomstick, or wooden dowel rod, is perfect for this exercise.
To start, grab onto the broomstick with your hands about 3-4 feet apart (~1 Meter). From there, lift the stick over your head forming a 90-degree angle with both your shoulders and your elbows. If you need to, adjust your hands so that they are directly over your elbows while in this position. Keeping your upper arms in a T-shape and your hands stacked directly over your elbows, pull your arms backward using the muscles in your upper back. As you do this, you should feel a nice stretch across your chest and through the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, then relax. Do this stretch 3-4 times per day, remembering to take it easy at first.
If you find that you need a deeper stretch, try gently pulling your hands apart as you hold the Fly position. You can also adjust which part of your shoulder is being activated by moving your elbows closer to the ceiling, or closer to the ground as you stretch. As you make adjustments, keep in mind that a little change makes a big difference. Any adjustment that you make should be done slowly and sparingly!
Get Ahead of the Game
We constantly use our shoulders to accomplish a wide variety of tasks and movements each and every day. Many times, we don’t realize how important our shoulder mobility is until it’s already gone—but it’s not too late! Get ahead of the game! Prepare your shoulders for the next time you have to reach into the back seat of your car using these exercises and others found in the GymnasticBodies online courses.