How to Loosen Up a Tight Shoulder

By M.L. Rose

Your shoulders can tighten for several reasons, ranging from inactivity to overactivity. Heat treatment and massage may help loosen your muscles in the short run, but in the long run stretching is the best answer. Stretching your muscles increases the blood flow and improves your long-term flexibility. Tight chest muscles can also create discomfort in your shoulders, so include some chest stretches in your routine.

Warmup and Dynamic Stretching

Step 1

Warm up your muscles before you perform dynamic stretches by doing five to 10 minutes of light cardio work, such as jogging or riding an exercise bicycle.

Step 2

Stand straight with your arms extended away from your sides, then swing your arms horizontally across your upper chest 10 times.

Step 3

Extend your arms away from your sides so they’re perpendicular with the floor. Rotate your arms in small circles 10 times, beginning with a forward move, then do 10 more circles that begin with a backward motion. Repeat the stretch, but perform 10 large rotations in each direction. Keep your arms straight throughout the activity.

Step 4

Stand erect and hold your arms away from your sides. Bend your elbows at right angles, leaving your upper arms parallel with the floor and your forearms vertical, with your fingers pointing to the ceiling. Rotate your forearms forward -- while keeping your upper arms horizontal -- until your fingers point to the floor. Return to the starting position, then repeat the stretch for a total of 10 repetitions.

Static Stretches

Step 1

Stand erect and spread your feet hip-width apart to stretch your shoulders and chest. Clasp your hands together behind your lower back, but don’t lock your elbows. Inhale, flex your knees, then simultaneously bend your torso forward and lift your hands slowly upward. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you raise your hands toward the ceiling. Stop when you feel the stretch in your shoulders. Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds.

Step 2

Stretch the back of your shoulder by extending your right arm across your chest, angling your arm toward the floor about 50 to 60 degrees, then pressing your right elbow toward your chest with your left hand. Stop when you feel the stretch in your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat it with your opposite arm. Hold your arm roughly parallel with the floor to shift the emphasis to the middle of your shoulder.

Step 3

Target your front shoulders and chest by performing a wall stretch. Stand straight inside a door frame, or stand perpendicular to a wall that juts into a room. Straighten your right arm and set your right palm against the door frame a few inches below shoulder height. Flex your right elbow slightly, then rotate your torso to the left until you feel the stretch in your chest and shoulder. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat the stretch with your left arm.


About the Author

M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.

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