The shoulder joint is one of the most vulnerable joints of the human body, because it’s designed to allow for very wide range of motion — from scratching your back to throwing a baseball. Unfortunately, this also means that there are many opportunities for things to go wrong.
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Strong shoulders can help prevent these injuries, which is why incorporating shoulder exercises into your strength-training routine is extremely important. You’ll also want to stretch your shoulders properly, to maintain flexibility and improve your range of motion.
Try these stretches after a workout to ensure good shoulder health.
1. Standing Unilateral Chest Openers
- Stand up straight next to a wall, with your body perpendicular to the wall.
- Reach out with your hand closest to the wall and press your palm flat against the wall so your arm is straight.
- Your feet should be directly below your hips.
- Without moving your shoulder or your palm, gently rotate your elbow so that it faces down. Do not bend the elbow.
- Then (again, do not move your palm or bend your arm), rotate your elbow so that it faces up towards the ceiling. You should feel the stretch in your shoulder.
- Do 20 rotations and then repeat with the other arm.
2. Cow’s Face
- Begin in a sitting position with your knees tucked under your butt. (You can also intertwine your legs if you like.)
- Reach behind your back with your right hand at waist level, and with your left hand over your shoulder.
- Attempt to intertwine your fingers, and hold the position for as long as you are comfortable.
- Then, switch sides and do it again.
- Don’t overstretch. If you can’t get your hands to meet behind your back, use a towel or strap to reach.
3. Sitting Triceps Stretch
- Sit in a chair with your back straight.
- Reach one hand back and touch your shoulder blade.
- Put your other hand on your elbow, and pull your elbow in toward your head slightly.
- Hold that pose for one minute, then release and switch sides.
4. Shoulder Blade Squeezes
- This one may seem obvious, but it can really do your shoulders and back a lot of good.
- Sit or stand with your back straight.
- Squeeze your shoulder blades together until you feel a stretch, then hold for five seconds.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times.
5. Shoulder External Rotation
- This is a more complicated stretch that really You’ll need a PVC pipe or something similar for this one.
- Begin lying on the ground. Place the PVC pipe across your body, with your left hand holding one end and the other end resting on the outside of your right knee.
- With your left hand, you’ll want to make sure you are holding the pipe so that your palm is facing towards your head, and your elbow is facing up towards the ceiling.
- Gently use your right hand to pull the left elbow towards it.
- Repeat this stretch on the other side.
Stretching Should Be Pain Free
Remember, if you ever feel pain while you are stretching, it is time to stop. Never stretch past your comfortable limit to avoid hurting yourself by tearing a muscle.