Shoulder mobility is becoming a fast and growing problem in todays generation, the technological advances have meant that most people are now spending most their time sitting.
Why is it Important?
The problem isn’t the sitting itself, its the slouched position in which you sit that causes the problems. Slouching decreases the amount of space for which the rotator cuff muscles (which helps stabilize) the shoulder sit. Overtime this causes tightness and pain if not corrected. This article will highlight the 3 main Movement patterns associated with poor shoulder mobility that i have seen in my clients and the essential stretches needed to start improving them.
Client A (on the right) is demonstrating the shoulder mobility test from the functional movement screen which highlights dysfunction in key movement patterns.
Problem 1 – Internal Rotation
Tight muscles – Teres minor and Infraspinatus
The Fix – Sleeper Stretch
1. The most important part to this stretch is the positioning of the scapula (the pointy shoulder blades in your back). When rolling onto your side roll forwards and then back again may to find the right position, you should feel like your lying mostly on your rib cage.
2. From there you bring the arm underneath you out to 90 degrees and make another right angle from your elbow so your hand is pointing to the sky.
3. To optimise this stretch further you want to open up your body to face slightly up creating a 45 degree angle. Doing this takes pressure off the joint itself and helps target the posterior muscles.
4.To feel the stretch push down on the arm with gentle pressure to start with, building up pressure slowly. If any pain occurs in the front side of the shoulder halt the stretch immediately as you have overworked the stretch.
Problem 2 – External Rotation
Tight muscles – Pectorals major, anterior deltoid and latissimus dorsi
The Fix – Wall stretch
Firstly if your shoulder has ever been dislocated then this is not the stretch for you!
1. To perform this stretch first place your arms out onto the wall in front of you with your feet 2-3 feet away from the wall.
2. From there bring the foot inline with the side your stretching closer to wall so that your leaning forward and have a stable base to push into the stretch.
3. Keeping forearms and hands flat create a 90 degree at the elbow and twist your body away from the arm at 90 degrees. This will create a stretch through the front and lower portion of the shoulder, to intensify the stretch lean in and away from the wall.
Problem 3 – Thoracic Rotation
Tight Muscles – Rhomboids, multifidus and rotatores longus and brevis
The Fix – Thoracic Rotations
1. Lying on your side bring your leg over and across your body so its resting on a foam roller at 90 degrees. this enables a neutral spine position throughout the stretch.
2. Keeping the other leg straight bring 1 arm out to the side and 1 pointing to the sky to form a right angle.
3. From their twist to bring you arms back over the other side of your body trying to reach as far over as you can exhaling as you reach over. the key point to this stretch is to maintain the bent leg on the foam roller so if you have a partner about get them to put pressure on this leg
Following these 3 basic stretches are the first steps in helping to create the baseline mobility needed, progression from here would be to start to strengthen the shoulder to maintain its health and keep you happy and mobile!