3 Simple Stretches to Loosen Shoulders and Relieve Pain
Shoulder injuries and aches plague most nurses. We spend our shifts lifting patients, transferring patients, supporting patients — we’re using our shoulders, arms, and backs constantly in repetitive motions that wear and tear at the ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles.
And the longer we do our jobs, the worse the aches become and the greater our chances for shoulder injuries.
Last month, I shared a series of shoulder stretches that you could do to ease bursitis pain if you’re already suffering from it. This month, I’d like to share three simple shoulder stretches that will loosen your shoulders and relieve pain so you can avoid chronic aches and pains that surface over time.
Shoulder Stretch #1: Pot-Stirrers
The beauty of this stretch is that you use gravity to create a slight pull on your arm that feels sooooo good in your shoulder. You can perform this stretch from a couple of different positions. You can stand with one hand on the back of a chair or you can perform a side lunge with one arm braced on your knee.
The important part of the move is to let your other arm hang freely from the shoulder. Using a slight motion in your body, you want to begin circling your arm in a clockwise direction. Don’t use your shoulder or arm muscles to fuel the circular movement. You want to use the weight of your arm to guide the swing. You should feel as if your arm is dangling freely.
Imagine yourself using your arm to stir a great big pot of soup. Circle your arm clockwise for 15 seconds and then reverse direction and circle counter-clockwise for 15 seconds. Repeat with your other arm.
Shoulder Stretch #2: Child’s Pose with Side Reach
Child’s pose is a gentler shoulder stretch than downward dog pose, so if putting too much weight on your shoulders or arms makes you feel unsteady, you’ll want to try child’s pose instead.
Sit on the floor with your legs tucked beneath you. Bend forward so your forehead rests on the floor and your arms are stretched out on the floor above your head. Try to keep your butt resting on your heels but if your butt comes up a bit, that’s okay.
Feel the stretch in the back of your shoulders as you reach your arms forward.
For an added stretch, slide one hand over and place it on top of the other hand. Continue to slide both hands away from center and you’ll feel a tremendous stretch run down your arm and extend along your lat muscles. Return to neutral position and perform on the other side.
Shoulder Stretch #3: Arm Circles
Arm circles work your shoulder joints and get all of your synovial fluids warmed up. Stand with your arms out to the sides and your fingers pointing up, like you’re washing windows on either side of you. Now, circle your arms forward in small circles for 15-30 seconds and then reverse and circle backwards for the same time.
Ready to spice up this move?
Point your fingers downward and make large circles going forward. Move slowly and feel the burn in your shoulders. After 15-30 seconds, reverse direction. Keep your fingers pointing downwards and move your arms in large, slow circles.
You should feel a delicious burn in your shoulders that let’s you know you are truly working those shoulders.
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