Stretching Series: Keeping Shoulder Joints Healthy

Shoulder issues are common in clients we see at East Wellbeing. Our shoulders maneuver every time we use our hands, talk on the phone, walk and even sleep. That's right they don't even get a rest when we sleep. According to 41% of people sleep on their side. So although the shoulder joint has the widest range of motion anywhere on your body it is often prone to over use and injury. The shoulder can be strained, sprained, separated, dislocated, or suffer from tendinitis, frozen shoulder, fractures, arthritis and torn rotator cuffs. Often some of these symptoms of injury go untreated or even unnoticed for weeks. If you catch shoulder injury early, you may be able to improve your mobility with just a few stretches.

Test your mobility below and if you feel any tightness, strain or pain. Try these stretches that you can do at the office or at home to gain more mobility. No equipment needed!

Test Your Shoulder Mobility:

Abduction - Standing, place your open hands on your thighs (arms straight) and raise your arms palms facing the floor up as high as they go. The normal healthy range is approximately 150 degrees.

Abduction Stretch - Stand in an open doorway with your left side next to the door jam. Raise your right arm up as high as it goes palm facing the door jam. Place your palm on the right door jam and lean into it. You may need to step your right foot to ward your raised arm for balance. Switch sides.

Flexion - Standing, place your arms at your sides your palms facing behind you. Raise your arms as far in front of you as they go. Normal range of motion is 180 degrees. So your finger tips should point at the ceiling.

Flexion Stretch - With a straight arm, begin by standing in front of a wall and walking your fingers up the wall. Inch toward the wall as your arm raises as far as it can go without pain. You may feel tension due to strained muscles or ligaments, but you should stop before there is pain.

Extension - Standing, place your arms at your sides with your palms facing your thighs. Lift your arms straight back, behind you as far as you can. Normal range of motion here is much less 45 - 60 degrees on average.

Extension Stretch - Place both hands behind your back and grasp your fingers. Gradually raise your hands upward.

If this is too challenging, try this:

Stand in a doorway with fingertips down palms on the door jam. Slowly walk through the doorway but keep your hands on the door jam. You should feel a nice stretch.

Lateral (External) Rotation - Bend the right elbow and place it at your side with your palm in front of your body facing upward. Leave your elbow in place while you rotate your right hand so that it is facing the right as though you are awkwardly holding a tray. Normal range of motion is 90 degrees.

Lateral Rotation Stretch - At home grab a long spoon, at work perhaps a ruler, something about 14 to 20 inches long. With your elbows at your side, move the object left and hold and then right and hold.

Medial (Internal) Rotation - Straighten the arm out to the side of your body palm down. Then move the arm across the center of body as though your are pointing at something across from your opposite shoulder. Typical range of motion is 70 to 90 degrees.

Medial Rotation Stretch - Lying on a couch or bed, line your right side of your body up to the edge with one foot planted on the floor. Bring your arm out to your side and form a 90 degree angle with your elbow your palm facing the ceiling. Allow your arm to rest in this position. If you are experiencing acute pain this action should be assisted.


If you do notice significant strain, or pain acupuncture can help. Contact your healthcare provider if you notice significant lack of mobility or pain. Typically the best course of action at home is RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation).

#shoulderinjury #shoulderissues #frozenshoulder #rotatorcuff #dislocatedshoulder #shoulderseparation #Shoulderabduction #Shoulderflexion #Shoulderextension #Shoulderlateralrotation #shouldermedialrotation

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