The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint composed of three bones and a combination of muscles, tendons and joints that enable mobility in the arms. The shoulders have the greatest range of motion in the body. As a result, they have an increased risk of instability, soft tissue injury, pain and degenerative diseases such as arthritis, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Shoulder stretches and range-of-motion exercises are recommended to maintain strength and flexibility in the shoulders and upper arms.
Athletic injuries, overuse injuries or medical conditions such as frozen shoulder result in shoulder pain, stiffness and reduced mobility. This exercise may be recommended by your physician or physical therapist to reduce the pain and restore shoulder flexibility. Begin by placing your affected arm over your opposite shoulder. Ensuring that your elbow is pointing away from your body, begin raising your elbow to your shoulder height. Using your unaffected arm, push your extended elbow toward the opposite shoulder. Hold this stretch for five seconds, and return your arm to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions three times daily, and gradually increase your hold time to 30 to 60 seconds as your shoulder flexibility increases.
This exercise may be recommended by your physical therapist to increase flexibility and range of motion in your shoulder. Begin this exercise by standing in a door. Grab the doorjamb with your affected shoulder and bend that elbow to a 90-degree angle. Use your unaffected arm to grab the elbow of the affected arm. Hold that elbow firmly against your body, and begin to rotate your body away from the doorjamb. Continue this external rotation until you feel a stretch in your affected shoulder. Hold this stretch for five seconds and return to the starting position. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions, three times daily. Gradually increase the amount of the rotation as well as your hold time to 30 to 60 seconds.
This range-of-motion exercise maintains strength, flexibility and movement in the joints and muscles of the shoulders. Begin by leaning forward on a table or bench with the forearm of your unaffected shoulder. Keep your back and neck straight, relax your shoulders and loosely hang your affected arm. Begin to gently move your affected arm forward and backward. Continue this exercise, but do not strain or overuse your shoulders. Perform one set of 10 repetitions daily. As you progress and regain flexibility in your shoulders, progress to pendular circles. To perform this exercise, enter the starting position with your affected arm relaxed and hanging. Keeping your back and shoulder relaxed, slowly swing your arm in small, clockwise circles. Repeat this exercise, swinging your arm in small, counter-clockwise circles. Perform one set of 10 repetitions in each direction, states PhysioAdvisor.com.
To perform this stretch, you will need a stable frame, such as a bookcase. Begin by standing near a bookcase or any stable structure you have available. Raise the arm of your affected shoulder as high as possible and grab the surface of the stable structure with your stretched arm. Keeping your affected arm stretched, slowly lower your body by bending your knees. Continue this extension until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold this position for five seconds, and repeat this exercise 10 more times. Gradually increase the duration of your hold to 30 seconds, and progress to performing three sets of 10 repetitions, once daily.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Shoulder Pain; December 2010
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Frozen Shoulder; January 2011
- Mount Nittany Medical Center: Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: Adduction (Reach Across)
- Northern Inyo Hospital: Exercises for Shoulder Flexibility: External Rotation; October 2007
- PhysioAdvisor.com: Shoulder Stretches
- Physical Therapy Notes: Shoulder Stretching Exercises to Improve Shoulder Flexibility; D.K. Mangusan Jr., PTRP; January 2011