It is very important to regularly stretch your shoulders to loosen stiff muscles and strengthen muscles. Muscle stiffness and specifically on the shoulders, causes pain and, muscle tension and fatigue. Release of tension on the muscles helps improve your body wellness in general. These stretches helps increase flexibility, prevent injury and extend the range of motion.
Stiff shoulders can be caused by various factors with age included. Most of the daily movements causes you to bend forward. This causes the neck, shoulder and back muscles to strain. Additionally, other normal activities like seating for long periods, texting and lifting heavy loads may create stiffness in your shoulders. Poor posture, weak muscles as well as improper alignment in your body may cause stiff shoulders. In other cases, injury or chronic stress or underlying illnesses like lupus, gout, arthritis and Lyme disease may cause shoulder stiffness.
Below are some 10 simple stretching exercises that you can do to prevent stiff shoulder
- Cow-face pose
Straighten your right arm up and then bend the elbow to let the hand fall behind your head. Straighten the left arm downwards and bend the elbow up, letting your left backside of the arm rest on the right shoulder blade or as close as possible to the blade. Reach to grab right fingertips with the left hand. Hold the pose for 1 minute. Repeat on the other side. Make it easier by using a towel if you cannot reach fingertips of the opposite hand. Create a slight tension by gently pulling the towel in opposite directions.
- Arm circles
Standing perpendicular to a wall and make big, sow circles with your arm. Get as close to the wall as possible (get in contact with it if possible). Repeat 10 times each direction (backwards and forward) before turning to rotate the other arm. Maintain good posture all through, especially when moving forward. Do not round or slouch the back forward.
- Chin Retractions
Embrace your double chin. Align your neck, head and spine while sitting or standing. Extend your chine in front as far as you can without straining. Pull it back slowly tucking it into your throat and neck. Repeat hourly up to 10 times. Try keep your chin parallel to the floor and straight. This move is great especially for people who maintain same neck position for long period of time e. g staring at a computer for 8 hours or more.
- Shoulder rolls
Acquire good posture while sitting or standing. Roll your shoulders up, back then down. Repeat this movement 10 times. Then reverse roll your shoulders up, forward and down 10 times as well.
- Thread the needle
Start on all fours with your hands directly below your shoulders and knees below the hips. Lift the left hand off the ground and “thread” left arm through the space between the right arm and right bent leg letting the back of the left hand and arm slide along the ground with the palm of the hand facing up. Allow the upper body to naturally rotate toward the right but maintain the hips level. Stop pushing arm to the right at the point when your hips begin to open to the right. Hold to the position for 30 seconds. Slowly release and get back to the original position. Repeat on the other side.
- Reverse prayer pose
This pose can be done while you are standing, seated or I a tree pose. Move your hands behind your back with the back of your hands facing each other and finger pointed down. From this pose, flip your hands in the other direction so your fingers are facing up. Turn your palms to face each other. Press the palms together and pull the elbows back slightly then open your chest. Maintain the upright spine posture. Hold for 30 seconds in this pose.
- T,Y and I movements
With your back to a wall, stand palms stretched out. Slowly raise your arms up to make a “T” shape- ensuring that your arms and back are in contact with the wall. Raise your hands higher to make a “Y” shape, and then an “I” shape when both arms palms touch high above your head. Make sure shoulder blades are kept flat on the wall all through.
- Wide-legged standing forward bend
Stand with your feet wider apart than hip distance, with toes facing forward. Interlock your hands behind your back and open your chest. Incorporate your legs muscles and slightly bend your knees. Hinge at the hips to fold forward, bringing your arms over your head towards the floor. Let the head hang down and bring your chin in slightly towards your chest. Hold in this position for 1 minute.
- Standing arm swings
Stand with your arms on your body side with the palms facing your body. Swing your arms forward to bring them as high up as possible without raising your shoulders. Lower your arms back down then bring them as far back as you can. Ensure the rest of the body is kept still. Keep on with this movement for 1 minute.
- Neck stretches
Bend your right ear to the right shoulder, Place the right hand over the left temple and add a little pressure by gently pulling the head to the right. Left hand can rest at your side, reach behind your back, or hold onto a bench or chair to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
It is good to take care of your shoulders whether stiff or not. The key prevention is to exercise often, drink lots of water, go for regular massages if possible, stay active with activities that involve the use of your shoulders like swimming and yoga, try and maintain good posture always and reduce stress. If you notice shoulder stiffness, it’s important to try and relieve it as soon as possible. Early treatment will help reduce complications. Keep alert with your shoulders and work on relaxing and releasing stiffness. In case of persistent pain see your doctor. Other than exercises, additional therapies may be incorporated or recommended by your doctor.