Exercises for contracted shoulders

    Exercises for contracted shoulders


    Shrinking shoulders is a very common problem. At the base there can be many different causes, such as stress, tension, incorrect movements, excessive use of the part, age, diseases (such as osteoarthritis and arthritis). A sitting position maintained for a long time, incorrect sleeping positions and injuries can also create stiffness in this area. In all cases, shoulders stretched and contracted can trigger pain or stiffness in the neck, back and upper body and limiting daily activities. For this, it is important to take action. How? There are specific exercises which help to release tensions and "free" the shoulders. 

    Shoulders contracted, the importance of movement

    It's important train your shoulders regularly to loosen and strengthen the muscles in the area. Releasing the accumulated tension in this part can also improve the general feeling of well-being. Here are some very effective exercises for contracted shoulders. These stretches can help increase the flexibility of this joint, extend the range of motion, and prevent injury. Those short on time can do shorter but more frequent sessions. As you gain strength and mobility you can also increase the number of sets.

    Shoulder lift

    • Stand or sit, with your arms at your sides and your back straight.
    • Slowly lift your shoulders towards your ears.
    • Remain in this position for a few seconds.
    • Slowly lower your shoulders.
    • Repeat 5 times.

    Small circles with shoulders

    • Sitting or standing, with a straight back and elegant posture.
    • Draw small circles with the shoulders, bringing them first up, then back, then down and finally up again.
    • Repeat this movement 10 times.
    • Then, start over by doing the rotation in reverse: bring your shoulders up, forward, down and finally up again.
    • Repeat 10 more times.

    Ears behind

    • Sit with your spine straight.
    • Bend the neck, bringing the head towards the right shoulder. Lower it as far as possible, without straining or lifting the left shoulder.
    • Deepen the stretch by using your right hand to gently pull your head down.
    • Repeat on the opposite side.
    • Do 10 times (5 per side).

    Hands behind your back

    • Standing or sitting, with the left arm extended up, close to the left ear.
    • Bend your left elbow and bring your left hand behind your back.
    • Use the right hand to bring the left elbow to the right as the left hand moves further down the spine.
    • If you can, fold your right arm behind your back as well and bring both hands together or together.
    • Maintain the pose for 1 minute.
    • Repeat on the opposite side.

    Hand to shoulder

    • Standing.
    • Bring the left hand to the right shoulder blade (bending the left elbow).
    • With the right hand push the left elbow to the right, to make the movement even more extended and deep, without turning the torso.
    • Extend your left shoulder and continue looking forward.
    • Maintain this position for 30 seconds.
    • Repeat on the opposite side.

    Bend forward with legs apart

    • Stand upright, with feet wider than hip-width apart and toes pointing forward.
    • Clasp your hands behind your back and open your chest.
    • Activate the leg muscles and bend the knees slightly.
    • Bend your torso forward, bringing your arms above your head (which goes towards the floor).
    • Let your head hang down and bend your chin slightly towards your chest.
    • Stay in this position for up to 1 minute.

    Swings of the arms

    • Stand upright, with your arms at your sides and palms facing your body.
    • Swing your arms forward to bring them as high as you can without shrugging your shoulders. During the movement, the arms must be straight. 
    • Lower your arms to your sides and bring them as far back as possible.
    • Keep the rest of the body still.
    • Continue this movement for 1 minute.


    After the session it is good to follow the post workout recovery program. 

    The role of prevention

    Even if the shoulders are not stiff it is good to take care of them. The exercises described are also important from a preventive point of viewDoing them regularly helps reduce the risk of contracted shoulders. Other prevention tips are:

    • have an active lifestyle;
    • doing activities that require the use of the shoulders, such as swimming or yoga;
    • try to maintain good posture and proper body alignment;
    • pay attention to your body while doing daily activities;
    • if you sit for long periods, change your position often and get up for a short break every 30 minutes;
    • reduce stress;
    • every now and then try to carry your awareness on your shoulders and work to relax and release tension;
    • if possible, undergo regular massages or take a few minutes each day to self-massage the shoulders. 


    If you notice tension or stiffness in your shoulders, it is important to take action as soon as possible. In fact, early treatment can reduce the risk of complications. If you experience severe or long-lasting pain, consult your doctor: he may recommend additional therapies or exercises.

    These exercises are also particularly suitable for improving shoulder extension.

    It is also useful to perform the exercises for "mouse ache". 

    If you suffer from flat feet, try these exercises.

    Chin bending exercises for neck pain are also helpful. 

    These instead are the exercises to thin the arms. 

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