Did you know the shoulder joint should be the most mobile joint in the human body? Similar to the hip, it is made up of a ball and socket joint. What’s unique about the shoulder however, is that it has a very shallow socket, which allows us to have a three dimensional range of movement. Think about the movement in the shoulder when we swim freestyle – pretty amazing right?
As a result of this shallow socket the shoulder joint relies on the surrounding muscles and ligaments for movement and stability. If the extensive ligament and muscle attachments extending across the upper arm, collarbone and shoulder blade are not strengthened correctly and this 3D range of motion is not utilised, you have a recipe for reduced range of movement, poor posture, high risk of injury and pain.
The problem is our sedentary modern lifestyles; sitting long hours behind desks and cars, no longer provide us with that full range of motion. On top of that, traditional chest and shoulder training can create further imbalance and restriction of basic movement.
The aim of the exercises in this article are to create mobility in the joint and reduce the risk of potential injury. These exercises are recommended to be done at least three times per week as part of a extended warm-up and movement preparation routine.
Take a rubber band twice the width of your shoulders and start with your arms straight with the band in front of the thighs. Circle your arms over the head keeping the arms straight until the band comes to your lower back. Then reverse the direction to finish in front of the thighs.
Overhead Thoracic Extension
Lay across a form roller with the roller positioned just below your shoulder blades. Lift your hips and reach your arms over head and anchor your hands to a bar. Keep your elbows locked and your armpits forward then lower your hips to the ground.
Shoulder Joint Reach
Reach one hand over your head as if you are going to do a tricep stretch, then the other arm reaches behind. You want to try and interlink the fingers, however if this is not possible you could use a small towel to increase the range of motion.
With your arms straight push your hands into the ground and then round your upper back to spread (protract) your shoulder blades. Still keeping your arms straight attempt to draw yourself to the floor using your shoulder blades. The shoulder blades should be drawn together (retraction) and you should feel a hollowing of the upper back. Can be down in a full, half push-up position or alternatively in a standing position with our hands on the wall.
Prone Pec Minor Stretch
Lay face down (prone) with your arm out 45* keeping your chest and shoulder pushed into the ground. Lift the leg and turn your lower body with your shoulder still being pushed into the ground.