Stretching improves flexibility, physical performance, and decreases your risk of injury by increasing the range of motion of your joints. Stretching also increases the temperature and blood flow to your muscles. Shoulder and arm stretches should be performed prior to exercise or sports including baseball, golf, racquet sports or similar activities.
Simple shoulder and arm stretches should also be performed when recovering from shoulder injury or surgery. Simple recovery stretches should include lifting your arm over your head when lying down, lifting your arm over your head when seated, raising your arm over your head while using a pulley system, rotating your arm when lying down, rotating your arm when standing, reaching with the affected arm, and reaching across the front of your body.
Here are four easy yet effective shoulder stretches you can do at home without equipment. An excellent time to do these is after your shower or bath when your muscles are warm.
1. Wall Stretch
Stand beside a wall and raise your arm until it is horizontal and place your palm against the wall. While maintaining contact with the wall, rotate your body and feet inward until your arm is across your chest and hold. Feel the stretch across the back of the shoulder then rotate your body in the opposite direction until your arm is behind you. Hold and feel the stretch across the front of your shoulder and chest muscles. Repeat five times for both shoulders.
2. Arm Circles
This simple rotational exercise will warm up your shoulder and rotator cuff. While standing with arms out straight at shoulder height, rotate your arms in a clockwise direction to make small circles. Gradually increase the size of the circles. Do a minimum of 10 slow rotations. Now reverse direction for another 10 slow rotations. Repeat as time permits.
3. Shoulder and Arm Stretch
Stand with your feet apart and raise your left arm and place it behind your head. Your left hand should be in the center of your back. Place your right hand on your left elbow and pull slightly until you feel the stretch. Hold for 10 to 15 seconds and then relax and switch arms and repeat. Repeat as time permits.
4. Shoulder Stretch
Start while standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart. Raise both arms in front of you and hold them at shoulder level. Inhale as you pull your straight arms backward while keeping your arms extended and stretched from your shoulders to your fingers.You should feel the stretch in your shoulders as you hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds. Relax and repeat this stretch 3-5 times or as many times as time permits.
Perform these four easy shoulder and arm stretches at work, at home or before any sport or exercise in order to stretch and warm up your shoulders, arms and rotator cuff (shoulder joint).