Consistent stretching increases your range of motion and relieves pain and stiffness.
The most common source of shoulder pain is capsulitis, inflammation of the ligament that surrounds and connects the ball of the upper arm bone to the shoulder socket.
We’ve had considerable relief by doing these exercises, adapted from the Straub Cinic and Hospital physical therapy program, both on ourselves and our students. They’re common exercises used by physical therapists and they really work!
- Stretch in all directions, opening each of the four quadrants of the shoulder – the front and back, and upper and lower sections of the shoulder.
- Do this series up to five times per day, holding each stretch for five full breaths (about 30 seconds).
- You should feel your shoulder stretching as you do these and for some people it may be uncomfortable or even painful.
- Do these in any order, but don’t skip any stretches. It’s more effective to stretch all four quadrants of the shoulder than to focus on one quadrant.
- Even if you don’t have shoulder pain, these stretches can keep your shoulders healthy and increase your range of motion.
- Once you finish the stretch, any lingering pain shouldn’t last longer than five minutes. If it lingers longer than 15 minutes, you’ve stretched too deeply. Adjust the effort at the next session.
- Consistency will pay off!
Anterior/inferior capsule (front/lower part of shoulder)
Press hand on wall (or tree!) at eye level before dropping the torso into a Down Dog stretch.
Allow the arms to externally rotate to create a broadening across the shoulders. You can achieve this by rolling your armpits towards one another.
Anterior capsule (front of shoulder)
Place hand on surface at shoulder level with a slight bend in the arm.
Gently turn away from your hand.
Posterior capsule (back of shoulder)
Draw the arm across the upper torso, using the crook of your elbow to support the stretching arm. This gives you better leverage.
Posterior/inferior capsule (back/lower part of shoulder)
Move into this stretch with care, being careful not to force your arm to the floor. Experiment with this one standing against a wall, but make sure your upper arm extends straight out from the shoulder.
Posterior/superior capsule (back/upper part of shoulder)
A great stretch for Vinyasa yogins. Hold a strap (or stick) with the upper hand placed above your head.
Grab the strap with the lower hand and gently draw the lower hand up the back by extending the upper arm. Breathe!
Use one hand on the other arm’s forearm to draw the arm straight overhead. The thumb will point towards the floor as your arm reaches towards the floor.
Lying on your back, use a stick to press the back of your hand towards the floor. Elbow is at a right angle and close to or against your body.
Keeping your shoulders healthy is a daily practice. Even doing these once a day will make a big difference in the long run.
You’ll love the results and the benefit to your yoga practice will be tremendous.
What you can do next
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