The shoulder is a complex joint made up of no fewer than 10 muscles supporting it and the area around it. It is the most mobile joint in the human body and, because can move in so many different ways, it is not surprising that it’s one of the primary culprits for tightness and, at times, pain.
While the shoulder’s extraordinary range of mobility and movement is great for daily function and performing complex tasks, it also makes the shoulder joint unstable and prone to injuries.
Do any of these sound familiar? Maybe, you wake up in the morning and you feel like you ‘slept funny’ on one of your shoulders, and you end up with a niggling pain that lasts for days. Or maybe lifting your arms up over head is uncomfortable or painful. Or, perhaps, your shoulders simply seem to ache all day!
Causes of Shoulder Pain
There are many causes of shoulder pain, including:
The most common cause of shoulder pain is overexertion of a muscle or an injury.
Because the shoulder is so mobile, and can move in many ways, twisting, pulling, pushing or falling can cause pain.
Repetitive, overuse movements (such as painting or writing) can cause shoulder discomfort.
Another all too common shoulder issue is muscle tightness, which often occurs as a result of sitting down and hunching over for long periods of time - like in a car, at a desk, or even on the couch.
Tight shoulders can keep your shoulders from functioning freely, not just while doing exercise, but in daily life as well. If you have an advanced level of tightness, movements like reaching up to get something off a high shelf can feel impossible!
Adding some simple daily shoulder exercises can make a huge difference to how your shoulders are feeling and functioning. While there are different exercises specific for different shoulder issues; exercises such as the ones below are great for ongoing general shoulder health and wellbeing:
1. Doorway Stretch
The doorway stretch is an easy mobility exercise that can be done anywhere there is a doorway. This exercise helps loosen tight shoulders, open the chest and ‘un-hunch’ your back.
Stand in an open doorway. Raise one or both arms up to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms on the door frame. Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest.
2. Forearm Wall Slides
Wall slides are another easy mobility exercise you can do almost anywhere. They focus on scapular retraction to enhance shoulder mobility and function, without compensation from the lower back.
Stand up straight facing a wall and place forearms vertically on the wall parallel to one another and shoulder width apart. Palms should face one another.
Gently press elbows into the wall so you feel shoulder blades flatten against your rib cage. Keeping this control, slide your forearms up and down the wall.
Don't allow shoulders to hunch upwards.
The aim of this exercise is to keep the contact with your shoulder blades against your back.
3. External Rotation With a Band
This exercise focuses on strengthening the rotator cuff muscles, specifically the infraspinatus and teres minor. The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for holding your shoulder in place and promoting smooth shoulder movement.
Attach a resistance band to a fixed object and stand to the side of the object.
Hold the band with the hand that's farthest from the object, keeping your elbow bent 90-degrees and close to your ribs. Rest your forearm across your body. You may want to place a towel under the elbow for comfort.
Move your hand directly across your body and towards the outside of your shoulder while keeping your elbow stationary.
4. Single Arm Band Row
The row helps to strengthen the muscles in the back, which gently pulls rounded shoulders back where they should be. It enhances shoulder stability, external rotation, scapular retraction, and shoulder extension. The result - a decrease in pain and an increase in good posture.
Attach a resistance band to a fixed object and stand facing the object. Start in a standing position with your feet shoulder width apart while holding the band in one hand.
Keep your spine in a neutral position with a soft bend in your knees as you pull the band to your side.
Return your arm to the starting position and fully extend your elbow before the next rep.
If you are experiencing shoulder pain we recommend visiting an exercise physiologist who can provide a targeted exercise plan to help you stretch and strengthen the areas causing your discomfort. Contact us today on 07 5456 1599 and ask our friendly staff how we can help.