Let’s talk shoulders…


Stiff shoulders.

One of things I encounter most when I first start to work with new people, whether that’s in yoga, personal training, or when people join the dojo - is stiff shoulders.

And it’s not a surprise.  Modern lifestyles so commonly exist around a forward focused narrow grasp.  Whether it’s holding phones and tablets, typing on a keyboard or driving a car.

Our shoulders, which are made as a ball-and-socket joint and designed to move and flow in all directions, find themselves pinned into this short stiff position.

I work with different people in different ways to resolve this problem, but I thought I would share with you some videos of some of the most common exercises I use bring mobilisation back to the shoulder socket for you to try at home.


Range of Motion Test

The first exercise is a range of motion test.

You can use this to get an idea of how flexible you are in your show.  Is it comfortable to get the backs of your hands against the wall behind you?  Is it comfortable to float them up so they meet above the head. 

Remember it’s not bad if you can’t, it’s just something you can become aware of and start to address.



Shoulder Mobilisations

Secondly we come to some shoulder mobilisations.

Before you look to stretch the shoulders, it’s a really good idea to get them moving. This is a really simple set of exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere, any place. At your desk or in a traffic jam.

Do these regularly and you will start to put more fluidity back into your shoulders, and over time it will help increase that range of motion.


Shoulder Strap Stretch

This exercise is the secret weapon of this set.

I did this spontaneously one-time in a yoga class when we had the straps out for the more common purpose of assisting in stretching the hamstrings by giving some extra length to the arms. I was in the high lunge position and I tried the movement that I’m showing here, and I realised it offered a really nice way of connecting to, and feeling the movement in, the shoulder sockets.
I now now teach this exercise every time I do an introduction to yoga for men, because there is such a high correlation with stiff shoulders when I’m teaching guys. But it’s a great exercise anyone who is feeling tight and cramped in this area.

When you are focusing just on the shoulders, there’s no need to add in a lunge or any other fancy elements, just stand up straight and experiment with this movement.

Eagle Arms

We come back to yoga for this final stretch in this sequence.

There is a pose in yoga called Eagle Pose (Garudasana). In this pose the participant ends up wrapping both their Legs, and their Arms around one another like twisted roots (another name for the pose).

The arm portion provides a really nice way of opening up the back of the shoulder capsule, and in the version i’m showing here I want to encourage you to experiment a little bit with the position. Move and draw the arm across to fill the opening of the shoulder.

The full version of the pose can be a little strong if you do have stiff shoulders, it’s quite possible you might not be able to get into it to begin with. Don’t worry about that, in the video I show three versions of the pose, and you will definitely be able to do one of them.

And, if you do this set of exercises a couple of times a week for a month or so you might find you can suddenly move to the next version. :-)

Have a go at these and let me know how it effects you and your shoulder mobility. You’ll be reaching for your seatbelt without a grunt before you know it! :-)

David EllardComment