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Why You Should Prioritize Stretching Your Shoulders (And How To Do It)

Why You Should Prioritize Stretching Your Shoulders (And How To Do It)

Nearly three-quarters of Americans have shoulder pain at some point during their lives, with symptoms that can quickly interfere with even the simplest daily activities. That’s partly due to the joint’s complexity: With lots of components, your shoulders are susceptible to many types of injuries.

Fortunately, James M. Lee Jr., MD, and our team at Orange Orthopaedic Associates offer advanced treatment options for shoulder pain, including medical therapies and at-home exercises to relieve pain and inflammation while helping to restore normal joint function. 

In this post, learn why shoulder exercises are so important, along with a few simple exercises to help your shoulders stay healthy.

The importance of shoulder stretching

Shoulder stretching has many benefits, but most people appreciate the way regular stretching promotes flexibility. 

Stretching exercises help keep your muscles, tendons, and ligaments in good shape, making it easier to perform many activities, including sports and household chores, like cleaning, painting, and gardening.

Stretching also promotes circulation, supplying the components of your shoulders with oxygen and nutrients. And it helps your shoulders warm up before activity to decrease the risk of strains and other injuries.

People tend to carry stress and tension in their shoulders, and stretching can help with that, too. By incorporating stretching into your regular exercise routine, you can prevent muscle tension and tight knots that cause stiffness and pain.

Basic exercises you can try

Shoulder stretching can provide some relief for many types of shoulder injuries, including overuse injuries and rotator cuff injuries. The key is knowing what type of stretches to do and to stop if you feel pain during your stretch.

Arm stretch

This stretch focuses on keeping the back of your shoulders flexible. Hold your right arm straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Then bring it in front of your chest and hold it in place just above the elbow with your left arm. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, then release, switch arms, and repeat.

Towel stretch

Hold a towel in your right hand. Then raise your right hand over your head so the towel extends down your back. Place your left hand behind your back and grasp the other end of the towel. Slowly raise your right arm toward the ceiling, bringing your left arm up behind your back to stretch your left shoulder. Hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch arms and repeat.

Neck stretch

Standing or sitting, drop your chin to your chest. Then gently tilt your head to the right toward your shoulder and hold for about 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Aim for 3-5 repetitions.

Shoulder circles

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms straight out from your sides until they’re parallel with the ground. Move your arms in small circles, gradually expanding the circles until you feel a gentle tugging in your upper arms. Continue making circles for about 10 seconds, then reverse direction and repeat.

One word of caution: Before trying any shoulder exercises, schedule a visit to have your shoulders evaluated. While stretching can relieve many types of shoulder pain, there are some times when exercising your shoulder can make an underlying injury worse. 

If you have shoulder pain, schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee, so he can determine if exercise is OK for you.

Make shoulder health a priority

Even mild shoulder pain and stiffness can quickly progress to more serious problems if you don’t address those symptoms right away. If you have pain or stiffness in your shoulders, Dr. Lee can design a shoulder treatment plan just for you. 

To learn more, book an appointment online today or over the phone with Dr. Lee and our team at Orange Orthopaedic Associates in Bayonne or West Orange, New Jersey.

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