Shoulder Stretches

May 16, 2023 | Joel Runyon

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Having pain in your shoulders can make life really uncomfortable. Not only can stiff or tight shoulders cause discomfort and limit a person’s range of motion, but it can also impact sleep quality if you sleep on your side. If the tightness goes unchecked, it can lead to neck pain and cause tension headaches. The good news is, in most cases, shoulder stretches can help relieve muscle tension, pain, and tightness in the neck and shoulders.

Stretches for Shoulder Pain

Tight shoulders can be a real pain. The shoulder is a flexible and complex joint, with a variety of tissues running into it. If they get stiff, you can experience a range of complications. Inflammation or instability in the joint can also cause shoulder pain.

Your head is heavy, carrying 7-10% of your bodyweight, and you have to shoulder the burden of carrying it around all day (see what we did there). When your head’s centered and your posture aligned, all is good. When you’re forced into other positions or lose your posture over time, maybe you’re riding your bike or peering at your laptop, that’s when things start to go awry.

Healthy shoulders have a huge range of motion, ready to deal with anything, whether that’s a heavy snatch, keeping your posture in order or picking your kids up when they need to be held. Stiffness or tight tissues can impair your range of motion and cause pain and discomfort. Tightness can cause things like neck pain or even tension headaches.

It’s important to distinguish the difference between shoulder pain that might only be caused from tightness and shoulder pain that may be more serious. If you’re worried that the trauma to your shoulder may be serious, it’s best to consult your doctor before doing anything else. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Although shoulder issues can be common in athletes, normal daily activities can cause wear and tear too. That’s why it’s important to take care of your shoulders. Ensuring that you prioritize healthy shoulder habits is important. This might include daily stretching, shoulder strengthening or even periodical body work like massages or visits to the chiropractor or physical therapist.

While the value of a chiropractor, masseuse or physical therapist cannot be overstated, you should also be able to provide basic care and maintenance for yourself to keep the shoulders healthy and prevent future injuries. Adopting a stretching and movement routine is the best way to do this.

We recommend creating a routine to do this. Choose a time of day that you can commit 10 minutes to stretching. Try to limit other distractions that may pull you away from it. The practice is simple and requires little extra equipment – mostly just adequate space to move. The more consistently you are able to do this work, the better and healthier your shoulders will feel. I think we can all agree that having painless shoulders will greatly increase quality of life. And that is totally worth the extra 10 minutes that this might take.

If your shoulders are aching, tight or causing discomfort, it’s time to adopt a routine. Use these exercises to stretch them out and have healthy shoulders in no time.


Joel Runyon

Joel is the founder of IMPOSSIBLE and the founder of MoveWell. Joel founded MoveWell after sustaining an injury while running an ultra marathon on every continent. Joel is writes about mobility, pain management and health and wellness overall.

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