Today we will talk about the shoulder, more specifically the main stretching exercises for this important, as well as delicate, articulation. Before going into detail with the explanation of the exercises, I want to focus for a few lines on a very important part, that is, the composition of the shoulder.
Muscles and Tendons of the Shoulder
The shoulder, under the muscular point of view, is also known as the deltoid, divided in turn into three portions: posterior, medial and frontal. Each part of the shoulder has different origin and insertion, but since this is not an article of pure anatomy, I will not go into this speech in detail! I will mainly focus on what's on the inside of the shoulder!
In the deepest plane of the shoulder we have the rotator cuff, a meeting point of several muscles and related tendons: teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis.
Most shoulder injuries are related to an internal injury, therefore connected to the rotator cuff, rather than a muscle injury!
Shoulder Stretching Exercises
First, why is it good to do shoulder stretching exercises? Stretching, in my humble opinion, is a lot useful both from a functional and performance point of view! Performing a few minutes of stretching for the desired muscle group, even better if post-workout, is an excellent method to improve mobility, prevent possible injuries and above all maintain muscle elasticity!
# 1 The first exercise I recommend is to bring one arm at a time to the chest, stretched and aligned with the shoulder and bring it as close as possible to the chest by pressing at the elbow with the opposite arm for 20 ”. Constant breathing and never bending the arm. A semi-flexed position of the knee, or with support at the level of the spine, is preferred.
# 2 I think the second exercise is fundamental for the good health of the shoulder and the cuff! Leaning against a surface with one hand, you bring your back parallel to the floor, while with your free arm you describe small circles clockwise and counterclockwise with or without counterweight! 10 laps for both senses with constant breathing. A semi-flexed position of the knee, or with support at the level of the spine, is preferred.
# 3 The third exercise consists in placing the stretched or slightly bent arm on a protrusion (eg door) and moving forward with the chest, until the pectoral muscle is fully stretched first and the shoulder secondly. Lie position 20 ”per side with constant breathing. A semi-flexed position of the knee, or with support at the level of the spine, is preferred.
# 4 In the fourth exercise, raise one arm, with the elbow bent, upwards; with the opposite arm we go to grab the upper part of the elbow of the arm previously raised, and exert constant pressure, as if we were to bring the elbow in contact with the ear. When we reach the point of maximum elongation, we stop applying pressure and hold the position for about 20 ”per side. A semi-flexed position of the knee, or with support at the level of the spine, is preferred.
# 5 The fifth exercise you might include in your shoulder stretching routine is perhaps the simplest and best known, albeit not consciously. The arms are extended, with the palm of the hand open, at shoulder height, with the palm facing the floor. We look straight in front of us and begin to describe circles with just the movement of the arms, without ever going to bend the elbow, we repeat the movement forming 10 circles in a clockwise direction and then 10 circles in an anti-clockwise direction.
The exercise can also be carried out with a variant, instead of keeping the arms completely extended, it can be performed with the elbow flexed and the hand resting on the shoulders. A semi-flexed position of the knee, or with support at the level of the spine, is preferred.
In summary, a good stretching routine is a great way to keep the entire joint compartment in good health relative to the affected area, the ideal would be to do the stretching with a "hot" joint, therefore in a post-workout, rather than before!
Stretching, generally considered very boring, must be performed with extreme consistency to be able to receive the fruits! Occasional stretching does not bring much benefit.