In Part 1 we discussed the importance of stretching the internal rotators of the shoulders to improve:
- energy levels
- confidence and appearance
- tension headaches
- shoulder issues
- neck and back pain
In this article we’ll add the wall stretches listed below to this series.
As always, please make sure to err on the side of caution when stretching, so as to avoid overstressing muscles and joints by pushing too hard.
Less is definitely more when it comes to elongating muscles that have been conditioned to be short over years by repetitive forward motions and daily activities. You won’t get flexible in a week by forcing a stretch, but you will make progress if you’re patient and persistent.
As a general rule, on a scale of 1 to 10 (with a 7 being uncomfortable), we’d like to keep stretches around a 3 or 4 in terms of the intensity you or your clients feel. This is important to remember so the body can relax and let go and not feel like it’s being pushed past its comfort level. If you push a stretch too hard, your body typically responds by guarding and protecting, which makes it increasingly difficult to achieve length and flexibility.
To get started:
- Stand with either hip against the wall.
- Keeping your feet facing forward (or parallel to the wall; see pic below), turn back from your hips to face the wall and place your arm (bent to 90 degrees…with your elbow slightly above shoulder level) up against the wall.
- Then gently lean into the wall, attempting to put your same side cheek against the wall.
You should feel this stretch in the front of your shoulder and across your chest.
Tip: Use your feet as a dial to increase or decrease the intensity. If the intensity is too much with your feet parallel to the wall, try turning them towards the wall to lessen the stretch, so your toes are pointing at the wall.
If you feel any pain behind your shoulder and in your back or neck, try adjusting your positioning to avoid this pain. (If you can’t find a comfortable position, see your local Sports Chiropractor or Physical Therapist to discuss.)
Next, turn back towards the wall to release the stretch and straighten the arm so the hand is slightly above the shoulder (see pic below).
Then face forward again and attempt to place your same side cheek on the wall. Your clients should hopefully feel this stretch in their forearm and biceps.
Tip: Place your opposite hand on the wall (see the pic) to create some support.
Now, once again turn back towards the wall to release the stretch (always release the stretch when adjusting the arm position) and while keeping the arm straight, raise the arm so it’s up at a slight angle (see pic below). Then once again, turn away from the wall to activate the stretch.
You should hopefully feel this more in your armpit and chest.
As a note, some people prefer the Doorway Stretch to the stretches above, but in my opinion, being up against the wall helps to keep you from pushing past the acceptable limits of the stretch – which is easy to do in an open doorway or corner – so as not to over-stress the shoulder joint.
Please feel free to email me with any questions: JPecoraDC@wbcgp.com
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