To increase range of motion in the shoulder, we must look at the 3 contributing factors: the human, muscles, and joints.
Firstly you have to want to increase range of motion in your shoulder, otherwise regardless of the knowledge you consume, you won’t put it into practice to reach your range of motion goals.
Reasons to increase range of motion of your shoulder:
Injury will reduce the range of motion of a shoulder. Therefore increasing range of motion has the following benefits:
- Regain lost range of motion and be able to perform daily tasks with ease and without pain
- Participate in sports and activities again
- Prevent future injuries
- Perform at the same level of competency pre-injury and above
However, many people who previously had an active lifestyle often do not complete their rehabilitationRehabilitation is the process of helping a person regain strength and function after an injury. This to pre-injury range of motion, making them vulnerable to re-injury.
Measuring your shoulder range of motion improvement
To improve something, first you must measure it, so it is best practice to get an accurate measurement of your current shoulder range of motion. By getting a foundation range of motion assessment, you will be able to see how your range of motion has improved in the coming weeks and months.
The key ranges of motion of the shoulder are FlexionIs an upgoing movement from the front side or the sagittal plane facilitated by the pectorals, anter More, AbductionIs a sideways upgoing movement in the frontal plane brought about by the supraspinatus and the mid, Internal Rotation, External RotationThe range of shoulder external rotation is one of the most important metrics in the field of general, and ExtensionIs a backward going movement facilitated by the Latissimus dorsi a.k.a the largest back muscle in te. You can ask your physiotherapist to give you your measurements for each of the above movements, which is what they will measure in your first session using a goniometer. Usual cost of a physiotherapy assessment is $60-$100 USD.
Alternatively, you can measure your shoulder range of motion yourself. You can do this by purchasing a goniometer, but will need the help of another person.
Or you can use a shoulder range of motion measurement tool such as Reflex Health. The Reflex Health App uses your front-facing camera to analyse your shoulder range of motion and is used by physiotherapists. The app is really easy to use and you are guided through the assessments and shown your range of motion in real time. You can find Reflex Health on the AppStore.
What affects range of motion in shoulder
Before we go into the exercises, it’s important to know what affects range of motion and how we can impact them. Range of motion is affected by two components of the human body: joints and muscles.
Muscle tightness has the biggest effect on range of motion. Muscles become tight from increased tension from either active of passive mechanisms.
Active mechanisms include muscle contraction and spasms that are actively engaged to move your limbs.
Passive mechanisms such as Postural Adaptation or scarring can cause muscles to shorten and therefore decrease range of motion.
The shoulder jointThe glenohumeral joint is a ball-and-socket synovial joint and is the most mobile joint in the human is a synovial ball-and-socket joint. The overall health of the joint will affect Range of motion and conditions such as Frozen ShoulderA condition where shoulder movement becomes very limited and painful. The cause is often unknown, bu More, Tendonitis, and Bursitis can significantly reduce range of motion.
How to increase range of motion in shoulder
The following exercises are based on the foundation that you already have some range of motion in the shoulder.
Shoulder Mobility Exercises
There are a number of exercises that can help to improve shoulder mobility. These exercises work by strengthening the muscles and tissues around the shoulder joint. This helps to improve range of motion and flexibility. Some examples of shoulder mobility exercises include:
Seated Shoulder Press
Sit with a dumbbell in each hand, palms facing forward. Press the weights overhead, extending your arms straight. Lower the weights back to the starting position.
Start by standing with a weight in each hand, palms facing your sides. Raise your arms out to the sides, keeping your elbows slightly bent, until your arms are parallel to the floor. Lower the weights back to the starting position.
Start by standing with a weight in each hand, palms facing your thighs. Raise one arm straight in front of you, keeping your elbow slightly bent. Lower the weight back to the starting position and repeat with the other arm.
Shoulder Stretches to increase Shoulder Range of Motion
Stretching is another great way to improve shoulder range of motion. Shoulder stretches help to lengthen the muscles and tissues around the shoulder joint. The effectiveness of stretching is measured by increase in range of motion. Depending on your experience, the increase in range of motion from stretching initially may not be from lengthening of the muscles, but from your tolerance to stretching. Stretching is as much of a mental and physical practice.
The greatest increase in range of motion from static stretching occurs between 15-30 seconds. Additionally, no elongation of the muscles occurs after 2-4 repetitions.
Older adults may need longer stretch times than the 15-30 seconds recommended above. This study found that 60 second static holds showed greater improvements for older adults.
Stand in a doorframe with your arms raised overhead. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
Stand with your arm extended out in front of you and your palm against a wall. Step forward with the opposite leg and lean into the wall, feeling a stretch in your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.
Start by standing with your arm extended behind you and your palm against a wall. Bend your elbow and bring your hand back toward your head, feeling a stretch in your triceps. Hold for 30 seconds.
When performing shoulder exercises and stretches, it’s important to take some safety precautions. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Warm up before you start exercising or stretching
This helps to prepare your muscles and joints for the activity.
– Start with lighter weights or resistance and gradually increase as you get stronger.
– Use proper form and technique when performing the exercises or stretches. This helps to prevent injuries.
– If you feel any pain, stop the exercise or stretch immediately and consult a doctor or physical therapist.
Following these tips can help you safely improve your shoulder range of motion. Shoulder mobility exercises and stretches are an effective way to increase range of motion and flexibility. Be sure to warm up before you start and use proper form to prevent injuries. If you have any pain, stop the exercise or stretch immediately and consult a healthcare professional.
Increasing range of motion of your shoulders is very beneficial to your health. Whether you are regaining range of motion from an injury, preventing injury, or increasing your mobility, the most important factor is to be motivated to do so.
Increasing the range of motion of your shoulder can take time and discipline. For best results, enlist the help of a professional. To stay motivated and get recommended exercises for your range of motion, use Reflex Health, which is available on the AppStore.
- Page P. Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012;7(1):109-119.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3273886/
- Feland JBMyrer JWSchulthies SSFellingham GWMeasom GW. The effect of duration of stretching of the hamstring muscle group for increasing range of motion in people aged 65 years or older. Phys Ther. May 2001;81(5):1110–1117 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11319936