Shoulder pain is distracting and can feel overwhelming to try and solve. But you don’t have to be stuck with shoulder pain forever. There are three simple steps you can take to put your shoulders on a better path – one that helps you feel and move better.
While the shoulder is a complex joint, and how it integrates with the rest of the body is very important, we need to start with simple, effective, actions. Bring these three simple actions into your life to help your shoulders start feeling and functioning better.
Imagine a scale. One one side you put all of the strength drills and ‘corrective’ exercises you do each week that focus on your shoulders. On the other side of the scale, you put all of the hours that you aren’t spending doing drills that focus on your shoulders.
Which side will weigh down more? Of course, the side that has the time spent not doing shoulder drills. There are far more hours in a week that you do not work on your shoulders than hours that you do.
If you want shoulders that feel great, move well, and are better prepared for the rigors of life, this is the first thing you must do: stop thinking of “shoulder care” as only something you do in the gym.
How do your carry your bag/purse? How do you pick up your kids/grandkids? How do you sit at the computer? How often do you break the repetitive movement and move in different ways during your day?
Simply by noticing, you often start changing your behavior – much like how simply deciding to pay attention to the food you eat tends to cause you to change your behavior even without a specific behavior change in mind.
Once you become aware, then it’s time to adjust your shoulders into a more natural and stacked position, no matter what activity you’re doing. I’ll walk you through exactly how, but first, an important advisory…
This is not about holding a squeezed, tensed, shoulder position all day. It’s not about having “perfect posture” (FYI, there’s no such thing) all day.
This is about teaching your body how to adjust to hold a better position, effortlessly.
Hat tip to Esther Gokhale for this simple method for adjusting your shoulders –
1. Sit or stand squarely on two feet, or on both hips, if sitting. (If you are operating heavy machinery, or doing anything dangerous, like driving, wait to perform this activity until you have stopped being dangerous. Thanks.)
2. From wherever your shoulders are starting from, shrug them slowly straight up to your ears. Hold them there.
3. Keep them at that height and, as if drawing the top arc of a circle, start to sweep them backward. Sweep them as far backward as you can comfortably (if you have lots of movement restrictions this might not be too far yet, that’s ok.)
4. Allow your shoulders to drop straight down. Let your arms relax, your back and shoulder muscles are doing just fine holding your shoulders in position.
By repeating this simple shoulder movement throughout your day, you start giving them new signals about how you’d like the tissues of the shoulder to position themselves.
Your shoulders are built to have robust range of motion, but misuse, disuse, and injuries, often disrupt the full potential of the shoulder to have its full mobility. The shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body – but only if you maintain or regain its full potential.
Thankfully, even if your shoulder has felt dysfunctional and restricted for a long time, you can always start changing it for the better. Remember – your body is responding to signals until the day you die – send the signals and you’ll get the response.
Every day, your shoulders need to be reminded of how they should be capable of moving. You’ve begun taking action already by reading this article. Continue it forward by choosing movements to do sending new signals so you can get new responses.
Of course, if you have an injury, you should seek a doctor’s care.
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