Exercises for Optimum Shoulder Health
September 24, 2008
By: Shelagh McNally for Shoulder1
Your neck and shoulders take a lot of physical stress. The shoulder is particularly vulnerable to injury because of its ball and socket design. This design allows for maximum mobility but also creates instability. It’s prone to repetitive motion disorders (RMDs) as well as pulled or torn muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
|Are you sitting properly?
| It’s easy to start slouching at your desk without realizing it. Keep checking your posture to make sure you have the best alignment:
- Keep both feet flat on the floor. Try not to cross your legs.
- Knees should be at hip level. If needed, use a footrest.
- Hips and buttocks should be in the middle of the seat, as far back as possible so there is small space between the back of the knees and the edge of the seat.
- The upper and lower back should both be supported by the back of the chair. A pillow or rolled up towel can act as a back support.
- Your chair should have an armrest at a proper height so your neck and shoulders can relax.
- Be sure to stand up and stretch or walk up every 30-45 minutes. Sitting for prolonged periods will make you stiffen up.
Protect your shoulders from injuries by keeping them supple and flexible with some simple stretching exercises based on yoga.
Raise your shoulders up, rotate them back and down, making small circles, gradually working up to larger circles. Do between 10 and 12 circles and then reverse direction. This can be done standing or sitting.
Sideways Shoulder Stretch
Start with good seated posture. Inhale as your reach your arms overhead. With your right hand, grab your left wrist; exhale as your bend your torso gently to the right. You should feel a pull along your left side. Be sure to move your head to follow the line of your spine and avoid twisting your neck. Hold for 30 seconds, inhaling and exhaling. Stretch on the opposite side.
Raise your shoulder to your ears as high as they will go. Hold them in that position for 15 seconds. Then, let your shoulders drop while letting the air out and sighing. Repeat three to four times.
Keeping your shoulders relaxed, inhale. Exhale as your lower your right ear to your right shoulder. For a deeper stretch, use your right hand and press down on the left side of your head. You’ll feel a gentle stretch along the top of the left shoulder and neck. Hold the position for 20 seconds, breathing deeply. Inhale one final time and as you exhale raise your neck. Repeat on the other side.
Twisted Shoulder Stretch
Place your hands straight out in front, rotating your arms so the back of your hands are facing. Put your right palm over the left so they touch. Press them together and round your back. Let your head drop while you reach your arms away from you. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds.
Sitting for hours hunched over a computer can cause shoulder problems. The best way to protect your shoulders is to make sure your computer is positioned properly. Make sure your keyboard is low enough so that you can relax your shoulders and have your elbows close to your body. Keep your mouse right next to the keyboard to minimize the reaching distance. Position your monitor so you don’t have to stick your neck out to read or lift your head to read what’s on the screen.
It is also important to be mindful of posture. Check how you are sitting periodically to make sure you are not slouching.
Last updated: 24-Sep-08