Achieving a certain degree of shoulder flexibility is absolutely critical for anyone involved in sports! Why is that so? Having a good range of motion in your shoulders not only helps prevent injuries. It can also help improve your sports performance substantially.
Let’s take a look at a swimmer! When there is flexibility in the shoulder musculature it allows a swimmer to ‘glide’ the arm through the water using shoulder elevation. This allows the joints to easily accommodate the desired joint angles without undue stress on the tissues around them.
Today we will be going through a shoulder opening sequence that will help you better stretch your muscles, release tensions of the stiff upper body, and increase your flexibility and range of motion which can enhance your sports performance as well as increase your energy level! This is especially beneficial for people who engage in activities that require lots of movements of their upper bodies, such as sports activities, jobs that require constant lifting and carrying of items. We focus on targeted areas that get stressed during sports activities to combat the tensed shoulders, stiff trapezius muscles that are connecting your neck, shoulder, and back, while stretching out your tight upper chest.
What are the Signs of a Tight Shoulder?
When your shoulders are tight, it is often related to stiffness and tension in the upper back and neck. If these muscles are stiff because of an injury or inactivity, it will limit your ability to:
- Extend your arm up and behind your head
- Reach sideways across your head
- Rotate your shoulder outward, upward, and backward
If you have been constantly building bulky muscles or working these areas without routine stretching—particularly in your upper back (trapezius), neck (sternocleidomastoid), or shoulder (deltoid) – the connective tissues can become tight and limit your range of motion.
How to Perform the Shoulder Flexibility Test?
When doing the shoulder flexibility test you will need a measuring tape and someone to help you with the measurements. Perform the test in a normal temperature room (no aircon) and try to wear light clothings.
Here is how you can perform the test.
- Start by bringing your right arm straight up over your head.
- Next, bend your right elbow and place your right palm on the back of your neck with your fingers pointing down toward your feet.
- Using your left hand, reach down behind your back and rest the back of your hand on your spine (your palm should be facing away from your body).
- Without straining, bring the right hand down your neck and left hand up your spine.
- Once you have reached as far as you can, measure the distance between your fingers.
- Perform the test on the opposite shoulder.
Based on the test results, your shoulder range of motion is:
- Excellent: When your fingers overlap
- Good: When your fingers touch
- Average: Fingers are less than two inches apart
- Poor: Fingers are more than two inches apart
How does Shoulder Mobility help with Athletic Performance?
Mobility should have a spot in any well-thought-out training program for any athlete. Mobility will help with soft tissue health, as well as allow athletes to perform at their highest potential. Good joint mobility also plays a key role in the prevention of injuries as well!
This is particularly true in the overhead athlete. An overhead athlete can be anyone whose sport involves arm action over the athlete’s head. Some overhead sport that comes to mind is baseball, swimming, volleyball, basketball, water polo, or tennis. The position in which the athlete must use their arm puts them at risk for shoulder injuries ranging from impingement to rotator cuff injuries. Good mobility in the shoulder can have a positive impact on athletic performance and career longevity. Poor mobility in these areas can lead to compensatory patterns and results in decreased performance and increase risk of injury.
So without further ado let’s get started on the stretches!
Pectoralis Major Muscle Stretch
Props required: Strap or Towel
- Begin by sitting in a cross-legged position on the ground. Open up the strap and hold them knee-length apart. Proceed to place your hand on the knees.
- Inhale and stretch your hands up and lengthen your shoulders inwards.
- Next, exhale, as you bend towards the left. As you do so, remember to keep the left hand on the floor and taking the right hand up. Ensure that the keep elbows are straight and look at the roof.
- Very slowly, take the hand down, roll back and open your shoulders. You will feel a nice stretch on the Pectoralis Major Muscle on the right side of the shoulder.
- Maintain the position for 5 – 10 seconds.
- Exhale, bend forward and tap the hand on the floor. Inhale and go back to the same position. You can get a deeper stretch by taking the right hand closer to the ground.
- Repeat this pose for 3-5 times on each side.
- Sit comfortably and stretch your hands to the front with palms facing upwards and elbows bending in.
- Take your left hand inside the right hand and make sure that your left elbow is straight. Then take the right hand close to the wrist (not close to elbow) and straighten your elbow.
- With the help of your right hand, bring your left hand in. Keep your head straight and look forward. Feel the stretch in the left Deltoid Muscle.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds.
- Inhale and come back to the centre.
- Repeat this pose twice on both sides.
Shoulder Blades Stretch
- Kneel and place your toes onto the ground. Proceed to sit on your hips.
- Then, interlock the fingers while keeping your back and head straight.
- Inhale and slowly raise your hands up.
- Proceed to bring your shoulder blades closer.
- Then exhale and bring your arms down.
- Repeat this action for 5 times.
Back of Shoulder Stretch I
- Stretch your toes and sit on your heels.
- Next stretch your hands up and cross the hands, pulling the opposite elbows. Your hands should be slightly behind your head.
- Inhale and as you exhale, pull your left shoulder to the right. Use the energy of the right hand to pull your left shoulder and bring the biceps just behind your head.
- Continue to bring the shoulders on the opposite side.
- After 5 seconds, inhale and move back to the centre.
- Repeat this pose 5 times on each side.
Back of Shoulder Stretch II
- Stand on the knees with toes on the mat.
- Begin to Interlock the fingers just behind your back.
- Next, Inhale and bring your hands up with your palms facing out. Slowly bend forward and place your head on the floor. Proceed to drop your hands towards the floor and take it down as much as you can while you slowly inhale and exhale.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds and come back up slowly.
- Repeat action 3 times.
- Seat in child pose and rest for few seconds by dropping hands and head onto the ground.
Upper Chest, Neck & Shoulder Stretch
- Stand on the knees and keep your feet apart with hands-on the waist.
- From here, bring your elbows close while keeping the eyes open. Inhale, bend back and push your upper rib back and slightly forward.
- Drop the hands one by one on the heels.
- After dropping your hands on the heels, sightly push your back forward and drop your head down. Inhale and feel the nice opening in your chest, neck and shoulder.
- Hold the pose for 10-15 seconds and repeat this twice.
- Coming back the same way place your hands on the waist one by one and rest in child pose for a few seconds.
- If you can’t bend backwards, place 2 blocks at your outer ankles to support you.
Back of the Shoulder and Upper Chest Stretch
- Place your hands a little downwards on the wall.
- Move a few steps backwards, make sure that you are keeping your back relaxed.
- Press your hands strongly towards the wall, elbow straight and drop your head and chest towards the ground.
- When you are taking the head down, make sure that both the elbows are moving closer towards the floor.
- Hold for 10-15 seconds and slowly come back to your standing position.
Shoulder Strengthening I
- Bend your knees towards your hips.
- Drop your hands on the floor and face the fingers out.
- Then inhale, pressing the hands and feet against the ground. Lift your trunk up and just look back.
- Try to keep your body weight on the shoulders as that will give more strength to shoulders while opening it.
- Exhale and come back.
- Repeat 3- 5 times.
Shoulder Strengthening II
- Bring your legs out in front of you. Keeping the feet together, hands close to the body and fingers facing out.
- Then inhale, lift your trunk up and drop the toes on the grounds. If you can, try to touch the toes to the floor.
- Keep your knees straight and look back. Ensure that the elbows are straight and you are putting your weight on your hands.
- After 10-15 seconds, exhale and come back.
- Repeat the same practice 3 to 5 times.
- Rest and sightly lean backwards while resting your head at any one side.
Confused by the instructions? Check out the video here as Krishna demonstrates the Shoulder Opening stretches!
1. Have any questions regarding the Shoulder Opening practice?
2. Any other practice you would like us to breakdown?
3. Want more Shoulder Opening videos?
Let us know in the comment section down below!
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