Do you often find yourself with a stiff neck and sore shoulders? You’re not alone. According to the American Physical Therapy Association, about two-thirds of Americans experience some type of pain in their shoulder each year.
While there are many reasons for shoulder pain, one of the most common is lack of flexibility. Tight muscles can put stress on the joints and ligaments, leading to inflammation and pain.
Fortunately, you can do plenty of stretches to increase your flexibility and improve your posture. Below are six shoulder stretches that are especially effective. Do them regularly, and you should start to feel relief from your shoulder pain in no time!
Table of Contents
The Anatomy of The Shoulder
Before we begin the stretches, let’s go over your shoulder anatomy. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint created by the upper arm bone’s head (humerus) meeting the shoulder blade (scapula). However, because the socket is shallow, the shoulder is more prone to dislocation and has the highest range of motion of any joint in the body.
The shoulder bones are linked together by a network of ligaments and tendons. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles and tendons that connect the humerus to the scapula and help to stabilize the joint. The biceps muscle connects to the scapula and aids in arm raises. Finally, the big pectoralis major muscle, which runs from the chest to the humerus, aids in the movement of the arm away from the body. All of these muscles and ligaments work together to allow the shoulder joints to move freely.
Why Do Shoulders Become Stiff?
Overuse, repetitive movements, and poor posture can all lead to shoulder pain. Because the shoulders are one of the most mobile joints in the body, they are prone to strains and sprains. However, disuse can cause the muscles and ligaments that support the shoulder joint to become weak or stiff. This might result in the joint becoming immobilized and stiff. Furthermore, poor posture places additional strain on the muscles and ligaments of the shoulder, leading to discomfort.
When engaged in repetitive activities, it is critical to maintain excellent posture and adopt a perfect form to avoid stiffness. If you’re stiff, gently stretching and massaging the affected area will help release the muscles and expand your range of motion.
6 Stretches & Poses for The Shoulder
Seated Shoulder Stretch
The seated shoulder stretch is a simple yet efficient approach to relieve tension in the shoulders and neck.
- Sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the floor to perform the stretch.
- Place your right hand behind your back and reach up to grip your right elbow with your left hand.
- Pull your right elbow down gently and hold for 30 seconds.
- Rep on the opposite side.
A slight stretch should be felt in your upper back and shoulders. This stretch is excellent for releasing tension after a full day of work or activity.
Standing Forward Fold with a Twist
The standing forward fold with a twist is a yoga pose that offers a variety of benefits.
First, it helps stretch the back, shoulders, and leg muscles. Second, it helps to improve balance and coordination. Third, it helps to increase flexibility in the spine. Fourth, it can help relieve tension headaches. Finally, it can help aid digestion.
- To perform the standing forward fold with a twist, begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Fold forward at the waist, exhaling as you go.
- Place your left hand on the ground beside your left foot. Reach your right hand up toward the sky, then twist your torso to the left, reaching your right hand down toward your left foot.
- Hold for 5-10 breaths before releasing and repeating on the other side.
Remember to practice mindfully, moving slowly and with control. With regular practice, you’ll soon reap the benefits of this pose.
The triangle posture is a standing yoga pose that is frequently performed in conjunction with a sun salutation. The posture takes its name from the fact that when you are properly aligned, your body makes a triangle shape. For novices, the triangle pose might be tough, but it is an excellent method to extend the hips and open up the chest and shoulders.
- To get into the stance, start in mountain pose with your feet together.
- Then, with your right foot, take a step to the side and turn your left toe inside so they point to the right.
- Raise your arms parallel to the ground, then bend your right elbow and place your right hand on your hip.
- Exhale as you spin to the right with your body and place your left hand on your right ankle.
- Raise your right arm to the sky, allowing your focus to be drawn to your fingertips.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute before returning to the mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.
Half Camel Pose
Half Camel Pose is an excellent way to stretch the shoulder and improve posture. It also helps to increase flexibility in the spine and hips.
- To perform Half Camel Pose, begin by kneeling on the floor with your hands on your hips.
- Next, slowly arch your back, reaching your right hand behind you to grasp your left ankle. If you can’t reach your ankle, place your hand on your calf or thigh instead.
- Hold the pose for a few seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
With regular practice, you will soon see an improvement in your posture and flexibility.
The Downward Dog is a common yoga pose that offers a variety of benefits. It can help to lengthen and stretch the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. Additionally, it can help to relieve tension headaches and improve circulation. The downward Dog can also be used as a resting pose between more challenging yoga poses.
- To execute the Downward Dog properly, begin in an all-fours position with your hands and knees on the ground.
- Then, raise your hips upward while keeping your head and neck in line with your spine. You should form an upside-down “V” shape with your body.
- You can walk your hands forward for a deeper stretch while maintaining the upward “V” shape. Remember to breathe deeply throughout the pose and to release any tension in your body.
With regular practice, you will soon be able to enjoy the many benefits of the Downward Dog.
Upward Facing Dog
Upward Facing Dog is a yoga position with numerous advantages. It strengthens the back, shoulders, and legs while also increasing flexibility. Upward Facing Dog also promotes healthy posture by opening the chest and shoulders.
- Begin in a standing position on the floor to perform Upward Facing Dog.
- Tuck your toes under and place your palms flat on the ground.
- Lift your body and thighs off the ground by pressing into your hands.
- As you open your chest and gaze up towards the ceiling, keep your arms straight.
- Hold the stance for a few breaths before returning to the beginning position.
The six stretching poses we’ve shown you are a great way to start toning your body and improving your flexibility. Stretching is one of the best exercises for overall health and well-being and can be easily incorporated into any lifestyle. If you don’t have time for a full workout, try doing these poses for just 10 minutes each day – you’ll see a difference in how you feel before long.