Three MUST DO Mobility Drills for Shoulder Pain Relief
Chronic shoulder pain runs rampant in today’s poor posture society! Our jobs leave us hunched over laptops / computers, executing overly repetitious movements on machines in factories, driving or sitting in traffic for hours on end only to go home and sit glued to our devices texting, perusing social media and Netflix binging.
It’s really no surprise that so many individuals spend much of their waking hours experiencing varying levels of constant discomfort in their shoulders. Many of the positions we find ourselves “relaxing” in coupled with the movements we engage in daily whether by personal choice or as a work requirement contribute to a weakened, imbalanced state relative to the mobility of the upper body.
I strongly suggest that if you’ve been experiencing this chronic pain for weeks, months, years with no relief that you make the time to consult with your physician regarding your desire to engage in a regular exercise regimen!
If you’ve been given the two thumbs up to start improving your shoulder health here are three SIMPLE mobility drills that you can incorporate daily to start working towards pain-free, healthy shoulders!
You can incorporate these mobility drills as part of your warm-up before training upper body as they will simultaneously improve blood flow to the upper body while increasing relative range of motion prior to lifting which will mitigate risk of injury.
It’s also common for our clients to incorporate mobility as part of their morning or bed time routine. It’s a great way to start or finish the day with a health-conscious habit that promotes improved performance and keeps your body limber and pain free!
1. SIDE LYING WINDMILLS
These are a MUST. I came across the side lying windmill years ago while perusing Eric Cressey’s work and I incorporate them into the mobility work of healthy and unhealthy shoulder owners alike. Elevate the bent knee so that your spine remains in a neutral alignment throughout the movement (a pillow, books, dog all work as a base).
Focus on maintaining contact with the floor using your index finger as you draw a half circle around your head.
Move slowly and deliberately, only raising your arm up when range of motion doesn’t allow you to maintain contact with the floor.
As your arm moves around your head, maintain your vision on your arm to maximize the stretch.
2. UPPER BACK FOAM ROLLING
For many individuals, much of the discomfort in their shoulders stems from tightness in their upper back! To ensure that you are keeping this area as limber as possible; foam rolling regularly can prove to be a great habit to release relative tension.
Focus on rolling the mid and upper back. Foam rolling on the lower back isn’t always the safest option as it forces excessive hyperextension of the lower back.
Keep your hips and bum off the ground to make sure you are placing enough downward force onto the roller.
Reach your arms up and across to pull your shoulder blades apart allowing you to better target the musculature of the upper back and not just the shoulder blades. (Rolling on bones doesn’t do all that much!) Another option is to hug yourself!
3. Broom Stick / Bench Thoracic Spine Mobilization
Another excellent mobility drill is the Broomstick / Bench T-Spine Mobilization! If you’ve never utilized this drill before you might be surprised at how tight your upper back actually is. Again; restriction in the upper back / lats often leads to discomfort in the shoulders ESPECIALLY if you’re sitting in a forward – rounded position for a large percentage of your day.
Focus on maintaining a straight line from your hips to your head with your elbows placed on the bench just slightly in front of your head.
Drive your hips backwards bringing your bum towards your heels while maintaining that straight line from the hips to the head.
Once a stretch is felt in the upper back (lats), slowly bench the elbows (bringing the broomstick towards the back of the head) and exhale fully.
I’ve found this drill to be effective as both a rep-based movement (3 sets x 12 reps) as well as a static stretch (30-40 second holds).
These are three simple movements that you can incorporate in a matter of 3-5 minutes in the morning, evening, pre-workout or all of the above to maximize your upper body mobility as well as alleviate discomfort that has developed in the shoulders!
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