Dealing with shoulder pain?
Stretching is one of the absolutely best remedies that you should try. Why is that?
Shoulder pain is often caused by inflamed muscles, and stretching can help re-align those muscles and decrease the inflammation. It can also help release the trigger points that are causing the muscle irritation.
Fascia binding is another major problem with shoulder pain. Ideally, fascia — the tissues covering our muscles — are soft and pliable. However, when injured or under-exercised, the fascia becomes uneven and binds, effectively shortening the muscle, and creating trigger points and deep tissue problems.
Finally, you may be dealing with damaged cartilage such as occurs in a rotator cuff injury. While the best way to treat this is surgery, you can often find significant relief by stretching daily as it help decrease the pressure on your joints and their surrounding cartilage.
For this article, I am going to cover 5 of the best shoulder stretches. These have been carefully chosen to help you stretch every major shoulder muscle and release the trigger points. No matter if you have an overuse injury or have simply been sitting at your computer with poor posture for too long, these should help you get to the bottom of your pain.
Remember: Breathe deep while stretching! Deep breathing helps to increase circulation and can help deepen the stretch and increase muscle healing.
Start By Loosening Your Latissimus Dorsi
The first thing I like to do is to stretch the lats. I realize that these are actually some of the more exterior muscles, however, I typically start with this stretch, go through the rest, and then come back to this one.
What is key with this stretch is that you are not only stretching the muscles, but you are also helping to realign and extend the thoracic spine to help eliminate nerve pain that may be emanating from a pinched disc. A straight strong spine is key to helping get to the bottom of recurring shoulder and back pain.
In my experience, this stretch seems to help preparing my body for the next stretches by opening up the diaphragm and enabling deeper breathing throughout the rest.
Just follow this short video:
The stretches that target these are very similar. So you often find that you end up targeting both of these muscle groups simultaneously or with just a slight variation of the same stretch.
For myself, I daily use the “doorjam stretch”, as well as the ”corner stretch” to get at the rhomboid muscles as well as to help workout those trapezius muscles in the back. I find that these muscles make up the bulk of my pain and need extra work in order to keep them under control.
I cut a really short video to go over all of these stretches. I like to repeat them 10 times each for about 20 seconds apiece.
Myofascia Release Of The Shoulders
Stretches are key. However, some of the best therapy I have experienced is when I focused on releasing the fascia tissue that is binding the muscle.
Deep tissue massage is super effective for this. However, I can’t afford to get a daily massage.
One of the things I like to do is to use a tennis ball or a foam roller to help massage these trigger points. With constant work, I am able to get significant release for my shoulders.
Basically, by using the wall or floor and laying or leaning on a tennis ball, I am able to roll around until I can find the triggger point. I then just roll in small circles right where the pain is.
Breath deep. It hurts. But the release afterwards is truly incredible.
Target The Rotator Cuff
The rotator cuff gets so much abuse. And you’ve really got to support it with as much stretching and careful exercise as possible.
The rotator cuff is one of the most injured parts of the body. Everything from tendinitis and bursitis to a torn rotator cuff or frozen shoulder.
So, if you are having shoulder pain, I would recommend spending some time on the rotator cuff itself and on the muscles surrounding it. Even if you are not having pain now, you may very well be over-using it to try to save the part of your shoulder that is hurting.
This is a very thorough video that demonstrates all of this and helps you do some key exercises to help target these areas.
The Final Stretch: Serratus Anterior
If you have followed all of the steps above, you have stretched out every muscle that is even remotely related to your shoulder. You’ve released the myofascia, and you’ve helped support your rotator cuff with incredible stretches and exercises.
The final stretch I want to make sure that you do is to stretch the serratus anterior muscle. This group of muscles helps to support the shoulder blades, and it is important to make sure these guys are stretched out so that they don’t interfere with the rest of your shoulder muscles.
It’s a simple stretch. Should take only a couple of minutes to do. Watch this video.