During sports movements, the knee, elbow and shoulder joints endure most of the stress. So it's essential for athletes to strengthen the muscles surrounding these joints, especially during off-season conditioning and in-season maintenance weight training programs. Doing this will help you withstand those constant sport-specific movements, prevent injury and improve performance.
Another habit athletes should adopt, equally important, is stretching the muscles around these joints. Stretching provides a greater range of motion and enhances joint flexibility.
The following static shoulder stretches target the anterior, lateral and posterior deltoid muscles. They can be performed between sets of shoulder, back and chest exercises, during a post-upper-body-workout cooldown, or before and after practices and games.
Learn more about taking care of your shoulders.
Before stretching, follow these guidelines:
- Make sure your muscles are warmed up.
- Breathe while stretching and exhale at the peak of the stretch. Avoid holding your breath.
- Slowly and gradually stretch to a comfortable range without bouncing or rushing. Never stretch past a point that causes pain.
- Hold stretches at the top for 10 to 20 seconds before slowly returning to start position. Rest about five seconds and repeat the stretch two or three more times.
Try these shoulder stretches after your next workout.
Wall Shoulder Stretch
Facing a wall from about two inches away, place your right foot in front of your left, place your right hand on the wall above head level and bend your knees. Gradually lean toward wall with right knee forward and slowly press extended arm against wall while turning head to the left. You should feel a comfortable stretch in your right shoulder. Repeat twice more before switching positions for three sets with left hand on wall/left foot in front of right foot for a left shoulder stretch. Be sure to turn your head slowly as you feel the stretch in your shoulder.
Arm Pull Shoulder Stretch
This stretch can be done seated or standing. Start with your right shoulder: bend your right arm and place your left hand on your right elbow at chest level. Keep your right forearm parallel with your chest. With your left hand, slowly pull your upper right arm across your chest until you feel a stretch in your right shoulder. Hold for five seconds and return to start position. Repeat twice more before switching sides for three sets.
Four-Point Floor Shoulder Stretch
Assume a four-point position, hands and feet on floor shoulder-width apart with hands about 12 to 18 inches from feet. Keep knees slightly bent, back slightly arched (not rounded) and hips extended. Next, slowly walk hands forward as far as possible with arms fully extended. Then walk feet backward, continuing to extend hips and straightening legs until you feel a stretch in your calves and hamstrings. Slowly lower your head between your extended arms and feel a stretch in your shoulders. Hold five seconds and gradually return to start position. Repeat twice more.
This stretch not only hits the shoulders, it's also a great all-in-one upper and lower body stretch for the calves, hamstrings, lower and upper back muscles. Learn more stretches for your warm-up.
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