I've trained thousands of people in my many years of personal training, and of those thousands I would have to say at least half of them have come to me with a shoulder problem.
Shoulders, in my opinion, are very poorly designed joints. I mean, we would never build our homes like are shoulders are built.
We would never decide to build an extension onto our porch using just one stud, some duct tape and four wood screws. Mike Holmes would have our heads!
But, take a look at our poor shoulders. One fixed bone, the humerus, free floating in a groove in our scapula, held together by a group of small, and not very powerful, muscles called the rotator cuff, with the assistance of the deltoid, bicep and tricep group.
Add to the mix an extremely powerful muscle group, the lats, pulling outwardly and down on the humeral head and you have yourself a recipe for a home reno catastrophe.
To keep your shoulder from becoming a catastrophe, try these three exercises. Two require no equipment, while the third requires a roller. I, personally, prefer the Travel Roller to a foam roller. They are at the proper diameter for rolling out the body and do not change in density, as foam can, with continuous use.
If you do have shoulder pain, though, please consult with your local physiotherapist. They are the best ones to diagnose and to treat your pain (and FYI - they do not require a doctor's referral).
Quadruped Extension-Rotation (Photo 1 & 2)
I like to do this exercise as a warm-up before my upper body workout. Just make sure that you're rotating through the upper and mid-back region, and not through the low back.
Wall Slide (Photo 3) While sliding the backs of your hands up and down a wall, keep your head, shoulders and low back all pressed against it as well. If you have some shoulder tightness, you may not be able to get the backs of your hands against the wall, which is fine. Aim for the elbows touching and then take note on how far you progress.
Thoracic Stretch (Photo 4)
I love this stretch. It feels amazing and will help open up the chest, while at the same time giving your upper back a massage.
Start by cupping your head, so that your neck is not taking any of the weight of your noggin, and roll the roller up and down your mid-back area. After a few rolls slowly allow your upper body to drape over the roller and hold (the roller should be resting at the tips of the scapulae).
See if you can get the back of your head to touch the ground, breath deeply and hold.
P.J. Wren is a local personal trainer and writer in the Delta area. She can be reached at www.fitnesswithpj.com.