The arms and shoulders are another tight area in my body that I realized most people do not stretch frequently. I also fell victim to this group because I focused on stretching my lower body and back area instead of stretching things like my neck, arms, and shoulders. However, the upper body is incredibly important to keep loose because we use them all the time. When we are walking our shoulders and arms are moving, when we write with a pencil our shoulders and arms are moving, and when we do a physical activity you will most likely be using our arms and shoulders in some way. Even posture can result in shoulder and arm tightness. For example, when you spend most of the time looking down at your phone or reading your neck is strained. The neck muscles pull on the shoulder muscles that can lead to compensation in the arms causing even more tightness. Despite the thinking that the arms and shoulder muscles do not require as much stretching, it is quite the opposite. Each place on your body requires stretching so imprint that in your mind as we begin.
The first set of stretches for this area will involve using a video called “Shoulder Pain Relief Stretches – 5 Minute Real Time Routine” by DoctorJo. She warms up the shoulders by doing circles in the forward and backward motion. She also does shoulder squeezes by pulling the shoulder blades towards the spine as she moves her elbows back and forth. The first stretch is a cross arm stretch. You need to start with your feet hip-width apart and stretching the right arm out straight. You will bring the right arm across the body with the hand pointing towards the floor on the other side of the left leg. Then bend the left arm at the elbow and hook the left forearm under the right arm. You will use the left forearm to pull the right arm across the body for a greater stretch. After that, repeat on the other side holding them for thirty seconds each. The second stretch is an inferior capsule stretch. It involves you raising your right arm over and behind the head with a bent elbow. Then, you grasp the elbow with your left arm and push down gently until you feel a stretch. If you feel a stretch without pushing down there is no need to push down more. After that, repeat using the other arm holding for thirty seconds each.
Subsequently, the next stretch is a rotator cuff external rotation stretch. To start, hold one arm in front of you at a 90-degree angle and wrap the other arm around and under. Use the arm wrapped under the arm and then try to pull the other arm outward. You can do this by directly pushing the hand down or by grabbing a finger or any other point on your arm to try and create that stretch. Complete this exercise on both arms holding for thirty seconds each. Sidetracking from DoctorJo’s video for a second Gurella Zen’s fitness video called “How To Stretch The Rotator Cuff | External Rotators” shows another way to stretch this area. I will start at about 3:54 if you want to watch the next stretch. For his stretch, you want to lay on your side with your arm at another 90-degree angle. Your other arm should push the arm back and forth as far as you can. It is important to make sure your shoulder continues to touch the ground for the duration of the stretch. Like other stretches, completion on each side for about thirty seconds each.
Returning to Doctor Jo’s video, the fourth stretch for the pec muscles attaching to the shoulder. You will want to interlace your hands behind you at the base of your spine. Straighten your arms while you push down and back behind you. Hold this stretch for at least thirty seconds. Her final stretch is a neck stretch I describe in the neck stretches post. Since the neck is connected to the shoulder, I wanted to emphasize the necessity of this exercise as it can help both these areas. You will want to stand with the feet-hip width apart and bend your head to the right or left side attempting to touch your ear. If you want a greater stretch, use your arms to help push your neck more sideways. Hold the stretch for 15 seconds on each side.
The next few stretches will be using Healthline’s “6 Bicep Stretches to Add to Your Workout.” The standing bicep stretch involves you interlacing your hands at the base of your spine. Then, straighten your arms and turn your palms to face down. Try to raise your arms up as high as you can to feel a greater stretch. I will add my own variation of this stretch here. Instead of turning your palms to face down, keep your palms facing the ceiling and try to raise your arms up as high as you can. I find it profitable to squat down and bend my back down to feel a greater stretch.
The next two stretches will be a doorway and wall bicep stretch. The doorway bicep stretch requires you to stand in a doorway with your right or left hand grasping the door. Your arm should be at about a 90-degree angle as you are grasping the door. You need to forward with a bent knee attempting to yield all your weight forward. You can also rotate your back in the opposite direction attempting to enhance the stretch. Repeat this stretch on both sides so each side gets a thirty-second stretch. The wall bicep stretch involves you pressing your palm or holding a wall or a sturdy object. Like the last exercise, try to force your weight forward and rotate your back for the best stretch. Repeat the stretch on the other side totaling thirty seconds on each side.
Another stretched I have found super helpful recently is the Shoulder Stretch Hands Behind Back Interlaced Fingers. It involves you taking the arms behind your back, interlocking the fingers, and then moving your arm upwards. While I am in this position I more my arms from side to side and move them up and down to give me the best stretch possible.
The final stretches come from Medical News Today’s “Top 10 Stretches for Shoulder Tightness.” The first stretch discussed is the crossed body arm swings. Standing with your feet hip-width apart lift the arms out to the sides as you squeeze the shoulder blades together. Then, gently bring the arms in towards each with the right arm under the left with both arms remaining straight. Following this, swing the arms back out to the size and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Then, swing the arms in toward each other again but this time, cross the left arm under the right with both arms straight. There is a video on the article that gives fantastic visuals making this stretch look easy.
The next stretch is a child’s pose, which is something I believe I have discussed previously in a post, but I will do it again here. To begin, kneel on the ground or on a yoga mat while your big toes are touching each other. Spread the knees apart and sit up straight. Inhale and reach the arms above the head and as you exhale bow forward toward the floor while you reach the arms out in front of you. The palms should be touching the ground and then bring the elbows to the ground if you can. Then, sit back and bring the bottom of the back towards the heels. Another variation of the exercise is to straighten both of your arms to the sides. Hold this stretch for approximately forty-five seconds.
The third stretch involves you standing tall with your arms at your sides and then lift your arms out and up over your head. Cling your hands to the opposite arm (I like to hold onto the opposite side’s elbow) and then fold over your legs attempting to touch your toes until you feel a stretch. If the stretch is too difficult, you can bend your knees more. Let the head hang heavily as this could enhance the quality of the stretch. Holding this for about thirty seconds should be appropriate for this stretch. The final stretch I will discuss is called the cow face pose. Starting with the feet hip-width apart, reach the right arm up straight towards the sky bending it at the elbow. Keeping the elbow raised and in a bent position, reach the right hand over the head and down the back. Then, stretch the left arm toward the ground and reach the left hand behind and up the back. You should try to reach the opposite arm’s hand and clasp them together. If you cannot do this, you can use a towel or some sort of device to clash the opposite arms together. Perform this on both sides for thirty seconds.
It is essential to stretch your arms and shoulders, so I hope this blog offers a resource to help you reduce tightness in these areas!