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4 Best Shoulder Stretches You Can DIY At Home For Mobility

4 Best Shoulder Stretches You Can DIY At Home For Mobility

Frozen shoulder treatments are some of the most common treatments that we see people come in for. Painful and stiff shoulders certainly can be debilitating for one’s daily life. It is, however, a common issue that affects two significant demographics: office workers and athletes.

While most common stretches may be helpful in relieving shoulder pains, they may not necessarily target the underlying issue that is causing the pain and stiffness. As a chiropractic clinic, assessing and correcting the posture is a critical task for well-being and health. In this article, we will share 4 unique shoulder stretches you can DIY at home that not only improve the mobility of your shoulders but also help prolong its lifespan.

But first, let us check your shoulder range of motion to see where we are at.

Your shoulder should be able to perform:

  • External rotation (Elbow at a 90-degree angle, then rotate forearm backwards to about an 83-degree angle)
  • Internal rotation (Elbow at a 90-degree angle, then rotate forearm forwards to about a 75-degree angle)
  • Abduction (Arm stretched to the side, pushing backwards to about a 171-degree angle)
  • Extension (Arm stretched backwards to about a 54-degree angle)
  • Forward flexion (Arm stretched upwards, pushing backwards to about a 165-degree angle)

If you perform these motions and they cause pain, shoulder stretches are not recommended as they may worsen your condition. However, if you only feel tightness and stiffness, then these 4 shoulder stretches should help improve your range of motion.

1. Kneeling latissimus stretch

Are your tight latissimus muscles causing shoulder stiffness? This is perhaps one of the deepest stretches that you can DIY for your upper back and latissimus muscle. Start by kneeling near the edge of your bed, chair, or table while holding onto a long object, like a broom or a mop, with your palms facing you. Place your elbows at a 90-degree angle onto the edge at shoulders width apart, with your back stretched parallel to the ground. Maintaining that position, sit your buttocks backwards towards your heel. Take up to 5 deep and relaxed breaths, gradually lowering your shoulder and chest with each breath.

For a much deeper stretch, you can switch your starting arm position to a V-shaped position, with your elbows as close as you can and hands as far as you can. Repeat the above step three more times.

Common mistakes: Ensure that your knees are below your hips before starting and sit back far enough so that you feel the stretch pulling into the outside region of your armpits.

2. Sleeper stretch

Do you feel a slight pain on overhead movements or a generalised shoulder stiffness? Then, this shoulder stretch should do the trick. It is common for office workers and overhead-throwing athletes to have less developed internal rotator cuff muscles. A great way to boost the flexibility and mobility of the shoulder is to focus on the internal rotation with the side-lying sleeper stretch.

Start by lying on your side. Then, bend your bottom arm outwards at a 90-degree angle, forming an L shape with your fingers pointing upwards. Using your other hand, apply gentle but constant pressure onto the back of your bottom wrist towards the floor. You should feel a gentle stretch at the back of your shoulder. You may repeat on the other side.

Common mistakes: If you experience pain in the front of your shoulders, you are likely to have an impinged shoulder. You should stop the stretch immediately.

3. Pectoral corner wall stretch

This is one of the best shoulder stretches that helps to loosen up the pectoralis minor and major muscles, which get tight due to most people adopting a slouching posture. If your job requires you to spend prolonged periods on your chair, it is vital to incorporate this stretch into your daily routine.

The pectoralis muscles connect deeply into several regions, such as your sternum and clavicle. Chronic tightness of these muscle groups forces your body forward into a rounded position. To start, find a corner of the room, placing your arms on the side perpendicularly to the ground. Place each hand and arm on each side of the corner, leaning forward while ensuring that your neck and back are relaxed and upright.

This shoulder stretch should take place on your chest and not the front of your shoulders. You can also place your elbow at varying heights to target different areas of your chest. Hold each rep for up to 20 seconds and repeat it eight more times.

Common mistakes: Ensure that your chin is always retracted slightly backwards when getting into the stretch. If your head sticks forward, it is indicative of a lack of shoulder mobility.

4. Shoulder 360s (CARs)

This stretch will even test ‘healthy’ non-symptomatic shoulders as it explores your full range of motion. However, know that this is not an easy stretch. To optimise this shoulder stretch, you need to focus on doing this very slowly.

Start by extending your arms straight forward with the thumbs pointing downwards. To maintain that position, bring your shoulder blades backwards towards one another, then lower them as much as you can. While maintaining that position, gradually raise your arm up and over your head, then backwards in a giant circular motion. The aim of this exercise is to create a complete circular motion, returning to your original position. Focus on maintaining as wide of a circle as possible without moving your arms too far off your body.

Each quarter of the circle should be done as slowly as possible, completing the circle after more than 20 seconds. The more controlled you rotate your shoulders, the more stretch you will experience and the more flexibility and range of motion you will get. Repeat it for three to ten more times, then do the same for the other arm.

Common mistakes: Most people will attempt to power through the stretch, swinging their arms too quickly. Remember the positioning of your shoulders at the start? The aim is to keep that positioning throughout the shoulder rotation intentionally. To gain more articular control, you need to “teach” your central nervous system that this range of motion is strong and safe by moving at a controlled pace.

Conclusion

There are many types of shoulder stretches out there. However, only a few would focus on building functional and postural mobility. These stretches not only improve the range of motion of your shoulders but also help maintain the effectiveness of your usual exercises. Nevertheless, you should stop immediately as soon as you feel an unwarranted pain in your shoulders.

With that being said, you should consider getting it treated professionally even before attempting these stretches. You might not know what is the underlying cause of your shoulder pain. It could be a result of pinched nerves or bursitis.

As such, chiropractic clinics, like Healing Hands Chiropractic, can help to determine the root cause, target it, and offer better advice that you can practise on your own. All these can easily be achieved individually or as part of your company’s corporate wellness program. Contact us to get started on a pain-free lifestyle.

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