An article by exercise physiologist, Jennifer Smallridge.
The shoulder is known as a ball and socket joint, and it is the most moveable joint in the human body. The large head of the humerus (arm bone) sits in a small socket, which is part of the scapula (shoulder blade). Much of the stability of the shoulder comes from the surrounding ligaments and muscles, so strength in this area is key!
Close by to the shoulder joint is the acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which is where part of your scapula meets the clavicle (collar bone). It is a small but mighty joint, responsible for connecting your arm to the rest of your body.
Shoulder pain is a common cause of disturbed sleep, and as we learned earlier, poor sleep can cause increased pain messages - a vicious cycle!
How movement can help:
The primary goal of therapeutic exercise for the shoulder complex is to move in a safe way - there is such a thing as not enough movement, as well as too much! Finding the balance is key, but when done correctly, the benefits include:
• Improving posture: the shoulder blade sits on the back of the ribcage, so if we are constantly slouched, the shoulder can’t move as freely as we like. Try it now by sitting up a little straighter and raising your arms overhead – it should feel a lot easier!
• Looking after the rotator cuff: these four small but significant muscles work to stabilise the shoulder joint as we move through life, however they are prone to weakness if not regularly used.
• Keeping the full range of motion: shoulder pain often causes people to avoid using their arm, which can create secondary issues with stiffness and tightness. Follow the exercise guide on a daily basis to prevent problems down the track.
Did you know:
The clavicle (collarbone) is the first bone to develop in a growing foetus, however is the last bone to fully form by young adulthood. Because of its mobility, the shoulder joint can achieve over 16,000 different positions, degree by degree.
Before you start:
For each of the following exercises, ensure that your body is nice and warm (for example, after a hot shower or brisk walk), or after placing heat packs on your shoulders for at least 10 minutes.
- Pendulum swing: 20 times forwards, backwards, clockwise, anticlockwise
- Stick shoulder lifts: 20 times, going gently towards the ceiling and slowly going back
- Stick shoulder side swings: 20 times, starting small and keeping muscles relaxed
- Band external rotation: 2 x 10
- Band internal rotation: 2 x 10
- Band rows: 2 x 10
- Lateral raises: 3 x 10
- Reverse flies: 3 x 10
- Chest flies: 3 x 10