This video is to help improve shoulder mobility for reaching overhead. It will help you improve shoulder flexion, shoulder abduction and shoulder external rotation range. Overhead reaching range of motion can get limited after an injury, due to pain or joint and muscle tightness.
Improve shoulder mobility for reaching overhead [Click To Tweet]
Flexibility of the shoulder joint in flexion, abduction, external rotation [Click To Tweet]
Improve your shoulder flexion, abduction and external rotation range [Click To Tweet]
Hey guys, this is Manu Kalia, physical therapist and Ayurveda herbalist. So I’m going to show you guys how to do a shoulder mobility or stretching technique. A bunch of you guys have asked me about doing more shoulder videos and specifically for getting range of motion back, overhead reaching. So the technique we’re going to do is more for getting flexibility of the shoulder joint in flexion, abduction, external rotation, so getting these ranges back.
So, often after an injury, or following surgery for that matter, you’ll lose range of motion. So the person will try to raise their arm up and if you’re missing that glenohumeral joint, which is your shoulder joint, if that’s missing that range of motion, you’re going to get into poor patterns. So you start raising that arm up and because you can’t go any further, whether it’s due to missing range in the glenohumeral joint and often sometimes also because of poor strength or motor control in the local muscles—glenohumeral as well as your scapular muscles, your shoulder blade muscles—you’re going to get to a point that you’re going to start hiking up that shoulder, very common presentation. So as you raise the arm up, because you don’t have enough range here, you start hiking up that shoulder, which can often lead to its own set of problems such as impingement. So every time I raise up and if I keep hiking that shoulder up, my humerus, which is this big bone here, the humeral head, which is a ball-and-socket joint, the humeral head keeps butting into and hitting your acromion. So in that subacromial space where your tendons as well as other soft tissues are there, they keep getting pinched, so you start getting impingement and often resulting in pain and problems. So we want to avoid that.
And so if you’re missing a lot of range of motion or if it’s the acute stage after an injury, or for that matter after a surgery, and you want to work at restoring that range of motion back, a much better way to do that is laying down. So this is one technique. There are a lot of other techniques out there, too, to get that range of motion back. This is one of the techniques I’m going to show you today. And you might need, in addition to the mobility exercise that I’m going to show you, you might also need some hands-on joint mobilization to be done by a physical therapist, but for our purposes let’s show you a quick technique.
Now, I’m going to use a broomstick. You can use a broomstick, you can use a wand, any other kind of stick, so essentially anything you can get your hands on. Now, laying down, you can lay down on your bed and do this exercise. So what I’m going to do is, if it’s my right shoulder that’s missing range of motion, I’m going to use my left hand to assist it, to guide it. So with the broomstick, now I have often seen people do it this way also, but that hands-down position causes some internal rotation of that humerus, which just closes down the joint and can also cause some pinching and impingement. So we want a slightly better position for that shoulder.
I’m going to go with the thumbs-up position, which adds some external rotation, opens up that joint a little bit. So you’re going to hold onto that stick right about here and it’s a thumb-up position. Now, my left hand guides my right shoulder, so I hold that stick right here. What I’m going to do is I’m going to gently bring that arm up and I’m pushing with my left hand and I’m going to see how far I can go where I start feeling a stretch. Now, you might feel some stretching in the shoulder joint itself, your glenohumeral joint, but you can also get some stretching in your lats and a lot of the other soft tissue structures.So don’t go just straight up, you want to work at finding sticky spots in various ranges because you’ve got to be able to get all those ranges back. So you work up to getting to a point where you start feeling some stretching and you want to hang out there, possibly even do some gentle oscillations, and then come out of that position.
Now, keep in mind, if you start hiking that shoulder up, so let’s say I get to about here and I really start to hike that shoulder up, now that again is going to possibly result in some impingement, might cause you more pain. So I don’t want you to do that. If you really start butting into that shoulder and it starts to cause you pain, you’ve got to back off. So keep trying for that because then you might really have a lot of soft tissue restrictions or the joint capsule might be really tight and might need more hands-on work. So look for different spots, get to that end range, hang out there, stretch. And then when you want to come out of that position sometimes it’s hard to bring that arm up when you’re stretching out here; use the other hand to bring it back out of there. Same thing goes for in these positions as I get into abduction, I get into some external rotation in different ranges. You might even have to go with that hand-behind-head position, so reaching, so that might have to get out here and I can even do that in these positions out here. So just be careful of causing that hiking of that shoulder impingement.
So, great way, spend about five, seven minutes working in different ranges, holding for 15, 20, 30 seconds at a time, oscillate gently, come back out of it, and then work in all these different ranges. So that’s one way to work on this position and I think it’s quite effective.
Now, keep in mind that if you find that you get a little bit sore, that’s normal especially when you first start out doing this exercise. So don’t overdo it, don’t push it too much. First time, do it five, seven minutes, back off out of there, see how you feel the rest of the day, and then compare the next day. If a little bit of soreness is there but it resolves and you find that, “Oh, I’m getting more range of motion back,” then after a day or so do the exercise again. And then once your soreness starts to go down and you can tolerate more, you can go a little further and further and you can possibly hang out there for even longer durations.
Now, one other thing you can do I forgot to mention is that you can also do, while you’re there in that same position, you can do some contract-relax stuff, which is also another way to really work at getting that mobility back. So what I do for that is, so let’s say I’m pushing down with my left hand, so my right hand is going to resist a little bit so I’m not letting my left hand push my arm down. So I hang out here and I hold, so this hand’s pushing down my left one, I’m resisting here. And you’re not pushing down too hard, remember, maybe about 40, 50% force, as much as you can tolerate, hang out, resist, resist, resist for about 10, 15 seconds, and then I relax and then I let this go further. So I contract it and then I relax and I go further. So this is a PNF technique, so contract and then relax, and I go again, contract and then relax, in different ranges, again working through that whole range to see how it feels.
So I hope that helps. So try it out and see what you think. Leave a comment if you have any questions. Thanks, guys.