The shoulder is one of your body’s larger and more intricate joints. It is composed of the upper arm bone, called the humerus, and the scapula, or shoulder blade. Together, they form a ball and socket joint which enables the shoulder’s impressive range of motion. The acromion, the clavicle, and the coracoid process are other, smaller bones that all interact with the rotator cuff, the bursa, and the labrum. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles that each move and support the shoulder at separate angles and planes. The bursa is a small sac of fluid that protects the tendons in the shoulder and reduces impact and friction between bones and soft tissue. Lastly, the labrum is the cup-shaped cartilage that shields the superior part of the humerus. The shoulder has many moving pieces that give the shoulder its extended range of motion, however these complicated systems also make the shoulder vulnerable to pain or injury that can inhibit several routine activities. Luckily, as with other joints and muscle systems, proper mobility, exercise, recovery, and nutrition will help reduce the chance of injury, or speed up your recovery post injury.
Whether you are driving your car to work, reaching up high in your cupboard, or getting dressed, your shoulders are always moving and stabilizing your arms even when you are not thinking about using them. It is so important for individuals, even more so for those who participate in sports or work jobs that require moving weighted loads overhead repeatedly, to prioritize shoulder health and flexibility.
Over time, normal wear and tear can result in discomfort that can be debilitating if not properly checked. One of the more common causes of shoulder pain is tendonitis in the rotator cuff, which is inflammation of tendons that make up the rotator cuff; the supraspinatus tendon, infraspinatus tendon, teres minor tendon, and subscapularis tendon. While rotator cuff tendinitis can start out as a slight discomfort, it can grow from a dull ache to affect everything from sleeping to basic daily movements. Without proper care for your shoulder joint, rotator cuff tendinitis can cause fraying or tearing of tendon tissue which works to stabilize and move the joint. Thankfully, surgery is usually not necessary when treating severe rotator cuff tendinitis or tears.
Stretches and Exercises for Healthy Shoulders
Exercise is essential for building and maintaining muscle tissue and strength in the shoulder to prevent issues such as frozen shoulders, osteoarthritis, and tears, and it is important to not overlook proper technique while exercising. Rotator cuff impingement is most often caused by unsafe movement patterns or exercising without proper technique. Stretching is equally important as it extends muscles to their full range of motion, helping you stay mobile and loose. When preparing to stretch, go for a short walk or some form of light cardio to increase your heart rate and get your body warm and ready for static stretching. Make sure that you are sufficiently hydrated and practicing proper posture throughout your stretching routine.
A good starting stretching exercise for shoulder health is called the wall climb. Face a wall while standing upright with your toes against the wall. Keeping your shoulder pulled back and down, place your one arm against the wall at shoulder height. From this position slowly bring your hand towards the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold the position where you feel a light stretch for thirty seconds to one minute, repeat three to four times, then restart with your other arm. To perform the next chest and shoulder stretch you will need a door frame. Stand tall next to the doorway with your shoulders pulled back and down. From here, place your elbow on the door frame at level with your shoulders, stack your forearm and wrist above your elbow, and lean forward into the doorway. Maintaining proper posture throughout the stretch, slowly drive your body forward until you feel a stretch in your chest and shoulder. Again, hold the stretch for thirty seconds to one minute, repeat three to four times, then begin again with your other arm. Other exercises and stretches including the pendulum stretch, the cross body stretch, inward and outward rotation, the hands behind the back chest stretch, and more, will continue to be added to our website: melitafitnessrehab.com. Make sure to check out our website for more updates regarding exercise and stretching techniques.
Written by Adam Lynn