It will come as a surprise, but shoulder stiffness and pain are a very common problem in today’s time. The most common reasons behind this rapidly developing health issues are an extended amount of time spent slouching or slumping at our desk or spending long hours in front of the laptop. No matter how conscious you are about your posture, you do end up rounding your back, head jutting forward, chest tightened, and shoulders lifted and compressed. This results in poor posture, shoulder pain, and tightness.
Meanwhile, other people carry their bags on just one shoulder or spend hours talking with their phones squeezed between their neck and shoulders. This makes the neck stiff and shoulder muscles tightened. If that’s not enough, stress, tension, and overusing these muscles can be other reasons contributing to this terrible problem. Good posture and proper alignment of your body is the key to maintaining healthy and strong shoulders.
If you are suffering from shoulder problems and it is hindering your daily functioning, read on. This blog gives out best shoulder exercises and stretches to release tension and relieve pain instantly.
Anatomy of Shoulder
Your shoulders are the most complex joint of the body. It contains several muscles, bones, nerves, arteries, and veins that build the foundation of the supporting structure that they are. Shoulders are made up of three bones: upper arm bone (humerus), shoulder blade (scapula), and the collarbone (clavicle). Each shoulder has two joints that makes it the most flexible part of the body that can rotate 360 degrees. Remember shoulders are not a separate entity, it’s a part of neck, ribs, and scapula. This makes it a complex part of the body that is responsible for a huge range of motion and stability in the body. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your shoulders are healthy, and the joints are working properly.
What Causes Shoulder Pain?
Stiffness and pain in shoulders can cause discomfort and limit mobility. Range of motion is restricted, and it can cause neck pain and headaches. Apart from the causes mentioned above, shoulder pain can occur from many other reasons and related health problems.
- One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is neglecting daily exercise.
- A shoulder injury that leads to dislocation, separation, or fracture is another cause.
- Frozen shoulder is another commonly occurring problem that limits how much the joint moves. It keeps you from moving your shoulder freely.
- Bursitis causing bursa, a fluid-filled sac in the shoulder, to swell up. With such a problem the pain surfaces when you move your shoulder.
- Degenerative joint disease like osteoarthritis can affect any joint including the shoulder joint. It leads to pain and stiffness in the shoulder and neck region.
- Sometimes shoulder pain can occur as a symptom of an underlying condition related to gallbladder or liver.
- A heart attack also leads to shoulder pain, but this requires emergency medical help immediately.
If you are suffering from any of these shoulder pain problems, it is suggested to consult your doctor and seek physical and medical therapy. If the pain persists a professional evaluation is a must. Severe or worsening pain calls for immediate attention. Also, if you experience high fever, dizziness, weakness, numbness, coolness, color changes, or deformity as the pain worsens, you must get yourself medical help as soon as possible.
However, if strengthening your shoulder muscles is your main concern, here are a few shoulder exercises and stretches to perform.
Best Shoulder Exercises And Stretches
These shoulder strengthening exercises are a great way to loosen up the stiffness and relax your muscles. It will make you feel light, relaxed and increase your flexibility. Additionally, it will enhance your range of motion, and prevent chances of injury and impingement.
The best part about these shoulder pain exercises is that you do not need a gym or fitness club to get rid of the weakness of your shoulders. Some of these exercises can be performed at your desk, at any time and anywhere. It requires minimum to no equipment. It is suggested to start with small sets and increase the number of sets as you build more strength in your shoulders. At the same time, these exercises can be performed at intervals throughout the day.
1. Neck Rolls: There is no other better desk exercise than neck rolls to relieve tension from the neck and top of the shoulders. It is a great exercise to perform anytime you experience your neck and shoulders straining.
Technique: For proper neck rolls, you must straighten your back and tilt the head to the right. Now, slowly bring it down rolling from chin to chest. Now, repeat the same on the other side. Repeat this for at least five times in each direction.
2. Neck Stretches: Stretching the neck muscles does not only release tension from your shoulders but also has an immediate impact on your state of mind. It releases stress from the body and initiates a sense of relaxation. It is said stretching small neck muscles bring on a sense of well-being.
Technique: You can perform this stretch for shoulder pain and neck stiffness while sitting or standing. Let your arms on your side. Keep your back straight and look forward. Now, tilt your head to the right, like you are trying to touch the ear with your shoulder. You shall feel the stretch on the left side of the neck and shoulder. Now, do it on the left side and you will feel the impact on the right side. Make sure you do not lift or squeeze your shoulders.
3. Shoulder Rolls: Shoulder rolls is one of the best shoulder pain exercises that shows immediate effect. Alongside, it is a great shoulder strengthening exercise that improves range of motion, releases stress and reduces the chances of joint inflammation.
Technique: Stand with feet hip-width apart. Keep your arms relaxed on your sides. Now, breathe in and lift the shoulders upwards. Slowly move them back as you squeeze your shoulder blades. Now, exhale and drop the shoulders down. Repeat this shoulder exercise at least 10 times.
4. Lateral Arm Swings: This is another incredibly effective shoulder exercise that is easy and convenient to perform. It increases the movement in shoulder and shoulder joints.
Technique: For this exercise, you must stand hip-width apart and extend out arms on to the sides. Now, squeeze your shoulder blades and softly bring your arms inwards together. However, they must not touch each other. Instead, one should cross the other by keeping one over the other. Keep repeating this movement for at least 10 swings.
5. The 90/90 Stretch: This is one of the best shoulder pain exercises that is recommended when people are recovering from a shoulder injury. It provides quick results in alleviating stiffness and pain in the shoulder.
Technique: To perform this workout, stand in a doorway. Hold your arms up and elbow must be in a 90-degree angle to your body. Now, place each one of your arms on the sides of the doorframe. Now step forward. Your neck and spine must align well and hold the stretch for a few seconds before you release.
6. Cross Body Shoulder Stretch: This is one of the most common stretches that is performed in fitness clubs, mostly during the cool-down session. It is one of the greatest shoulders stretches as it targets all the shoulder muscles and a few others.
Technique: For this exercise, you must stand straight with your feet hip-width apart. Now, stretch the right arm out straight and take it towards the other arm, across your body. Lift your left arm to hook the right arm from underneath. With the force in your left arm, push the right arm further across the body. Hold this stretch for at least 10 seconds before releasing and repeating the movement on the other side.
7. Cow Face Stretch: Practicing this shoulder exercise will make you feel the impact in almost every part of the body. This workout stretches hips, shoulders, ankles, thighs, armpits, chest, triceps, and biceps. Also, it helps to improve posture and lengthens the muscles.
Technique: Stand tall or sit on your knees, now extend your right arm towards the ceiling. Bend it at the elbow and bring it over the head and down the back. Meanwhile, keep your left arm stretched out towards the ground. Bring it to the back and try and reach your right hand. If you manage to do so, clasp both the hands together. If you don’t, grab a towel in your palms to get your hands close to each other. Take a few breathes here and release the stretch. Repeat the exercise on the opposite side.
8. Standing Wall Stretch: Standing wall stretch will improve the flexibility in your shoulders and back. It is the best way to release the tension immediately.
Technique: Place both your hands on a wall. Keep them straight like they form a 90-degree angle to your body. Move back and let your arms stretch out completely. Hinge forward your hips and push your shoulder blades back. Hold the pose for 5 seconds and then release.
9. Lying Thoracic Rotation: This is an incredibly effective exercise for shoulder pains and tension. It improves mobility and stability in shoulders and rotator cuffs. Do not perform this exercise the first thing in your routine. Since it involves stretching at different body parts, it is important to warm up a bit before doing this stretch. It may look complicated at first, but it is easy to perform and feels great.
Technique: Lie down on your side. Now bend the knees slightly. Now extend your hands in front of you. Rotate your upper body outward with your arm moving backwards. The upper hand must touch the ground when you are done rotating your thoracic spine. Stay in this pose for a few seconds then switch to the other side and repeat the movement.
10. Seated Twist: This is an amazing stretch for shoulder pain. Apart from this, it is effective in relieving backaches, sciatica, and menstrual pains. It aids in digestion and stretches the entire upper body.
Technique: You must sit on the floor or on a chair for this exercise. Keep your back straight and knees together. Now twist your torso to the right without moving your hips. Place your left hand on the outside of your right thigh push through. Keep your shoulders relaxed as you gaze towards your right side. Perform the same stretch on the opposite side.
Apart from these shoulder pain exercises, you can also perform child’s pose, thread the needle pose, T, Y, and I movements, arm circles, Sphinx pose, and more. These shoulder strengthening exercises will reduce tension, relieve pain, increase mobility, improve flexibility and posture.
Shoulder pains and stiffness are common problems that can be treated with easy exercises. However, if you continue to ignore shoulder troubles then it might grow into a bigger problem. So, before it’s too late, take control of the problem and rectify it. Remember to see the doctor if shoulder pain is severe and continues to worsen despite remedial efforts.
Disclaimer: All exercise should be done under the supervision of certified professionals. If any medical condition exists, please do seek the advice of the physician to proceed with this exercise.