The ability to move your arm in space and reach for objects is crucial for quality of life. Without it, we are limited in the things that we can do – both for work and fun. Anyone who has had a shoulder injury or surgery can attest to this.
If you have pain when raising your arm above shoulder height, laying on your side, or even when lifting overhead, these 5 exercises are for you. The best part is that you can do them at home and they don’t take a ton of time.
1. Thoracic Extension
This is an area that most people ignore and can really limit the effectiveness of the rest of your routine. The thoracic spine, or mid-back, is extremely important when it comes to the ability to raise your arm overhead. The thoracic spine HAS to extend (bend backwards) to allow for full shoulder flexion. Without it, your shoulder flexion is limited and can become painful. With this exercise, I am using a foam roll but you can get the same effect with a rolled-up towel.
2. Active Release
The next technique utilizes a ball (it can be a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, etc), applying direct pressure on a muscle, and some arm movements to “release” or loosen up the tight muscles. A lot of people tend to carry their stress in their neck and shoulders and the muscles surrounding these areas can become very tense and tight. These are some great techniques to quickly loosen up these muscles.
3. Shoulder Internal Rotation Opener
A common finding after a shoulder injury or even surgery is a lack of internal rotation. This can cause several issues and can make it difficult to do things like scratch your back, put on a bra, etc. It can also limit different lifts such as the high pull, where your shoulder is in an internally rotated position. By using a band, we can get a great “extra” stretch that will make a big difference.
4. Overhead Band Opener
Another common finding (maybe the most prevalent) is a lack of shoulder flexion, or the ability to raise your arm up in front of you. As I mentioned with the first exercise, this can be from several things such as a lack of thoracic extension, but it can also stem from tight tissues in the shoulder itself such as muscles or even the joint capsule. This is one of my go-to exercises to help people obtain end-range flexion.
5. Thoracic Prayer Stretch
While it isn’t often associated with the shoulder, the latissimus dorsi (or “lat” for short) goes from your lower back all the way up to the front of your shoulder. If this muscle becomes tight, it can limit your ability to reach overhead and externally rotate your arm. The thoracic prayer stretch not only helps stretch the lat out but also works on thoracic extension at the same time.
Have you tried these exercises but are still having shoulder pain and/or limited mobility?
Here at Kaizen, we have worked with hundreds of patients just like you who have had shoulder pain and are concerned, frustrated and don’t know what to do.
How can we help you get back to doing the things you love?
We use the Kaizen 3-step process:
We offer 60 minute sessions – both in-person and remotely, working one-on-one with Dr. Ladd to determine your problems, set goals, and develop a personalized plan of care. This hassle-free process reduces the number of needed appointments, saves you time, and saves you money.
It’s time to get you back in the game and keep you there. Book a free Discovery Call with us today to get started!