Tight shoulders can be caused from a number of reasons and if left unaddressed, can create some pretty inconvenient long-term problems. These problems can include shoulder pain (obviously), neck pain, numbness/tingling down the arms/hands, postural issues, headaches and unable to use your arms the way they were designed.
Some of the most common reasons you may experience tight shoulders are:
- Poor Breathing Mechanics
- Poor Posture
- Eye Strain
Today’s training is designed to offer you 5 essential exercises you can do regularly to combat tight shoulders and avoid long-term problems. After all, the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. If it isn’t working properly, then you’ll be limiting what you are capable of – in life.
It’s important to have a basic understanding of how your shoulders move and ways we can make them work better. Below you’ll find some basic movements, shoulders should be able to accomplish.
Elevation/ Depression/ Protraction/ Retraction
Your scapula (the chicken cutlet shaped bone) on your back works a number of different ways. You may know these are you shoulder blades. In the figure below you’ll notice it elevates, depresses, protracts (moves away from each other), retracts (moves toward each other), upwardly rotates and downwardly rotates.
With flexion and extension, this is your ability to lift your arm up in front and extend your arm in back. This is evident when you walk. The swinging of your arms is in flexion and extension. You can see what your ranges should be capable of in the figure below.
This is when you lift your arms out to the side (making a “T”) and then bring them back down next to your body. See the figure below:
Internal/ External Rotation
Internal and external rotation should be able to be done at all shoulder ranges. Below is an example of internal/ external being performed with the arm in abduction.
As you can see, you have access to A LOT of ranges and combination of ranges in the shoulder. It’s important to practice all these ranges in order for your joint to work properly to avoid injuries as well as tightness due to inactivity.
Shoulders generally aren’t being isolated in these ranges either. You will often use combinations of all these motions to accomplish whatever ranges of motion are needed to accomplish the task at hand. You’ll note that the mobility exercises below reflect that and use multiple ranges within each exercise.
#1 – Forward/Backward Thoracic Glides
This exercise isn’t apart of the actual shoulder, but it does however impact your ability to move it. Because of the nature of sitting and poor posture, developing a rounded upper spine (Thoracic Spine) will negatively effect the way your scapula and shoulder joint move. Improving this area first will give you greater access to shoulder range of motion and posture.
Here’s what it looks like: