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One of the most important things you can ever do to keep your shoulders healthy and pain-free is to maintain their range of motion through regular stretching.

Of all the joints in your body, your shoulders are arguably the most complicated and therefore require the most exercises in order to heal.

If you have injured yourself or simply want to keep your shoulder joints healthy, here are two crucial stretches to include in your routine:

  • External shoulder rotation
  • Internal shoulder rotation

Here’s how to perform these yoga stretches.

External Rotation Shoulder Stretch Catherine Carrigan Yoga Teacher

External Shoulder Rotation

  1. Bring your right arm over your head alongside your ear.
  2. Wrap your shoulder. To do this, roll the inside edge out and the outside edge in.
  3. Lift and extend your arm a little taller.
  4. Bend your elbow and pat yourself on the back. You’ll want to reach your hand in the direction of the opposite shoulder blade.
  5. Take your opposite hand on top of your elbow and gently depress the entire right arm. Breathe! Find the place where the stretch is interesting but not excruciating.
  6. Hold this stretch for at least 60 seconds to allow your muscles, connective tissue and bones to come into gentle alignment.
  7. Repeat on the other side.
"Internal Shoulder Rotation"

Internal Shoulder Rotation

In this photograph, I am demonstrating the full range of motion of a very healthy shoulder joint. When you are starting out, I recommend you use either a yoga strap, a leather belt, the belt of your bathrobe, a rope or a towel. Although I typically recommend a yoga strap for all my clients, it’s good to know that you can accomplish this very same stretch with equipment you probably already have on hand. If you are as flexible as I am, simply use your hands and arms.

  1. Holding your belt, place your left hand in your lower back.
  2. Gently pull your left shoulder back.
  3. With your opposite arm, gently reach around and grab hold of your belt and pull upwards. If you are super bendy like I am simply grab hold of your left hand or fingers and tug towards your head.
  4. Breathe, relax and allow your body to open naturally.
  5. Hold this stretch for at least 60 seconds to allow your muscles, connective tissue and bones to come into gentle alignment.
  6. Repeat on the opposite shoulder.

Because external and internal shoulder rotation are two sides of the same coin, you will want to perform both these yoga stretches to keep your shoulders healthy.

Here’s a couple of things to think about while you are performing these stretches:

  1. You will want to hold these stretches at least 60 seconds. Why is it so important to hold these stretches at least that long? You have to hold these stretches at least 60 seconds for your muscles, connective tissues and bones to come into alignment.
  2. If you have injured yourself or are suffering the pain of arthritis, you may need to hold the stretches even longer OR hold for one minute each side and then repeat the same stretch.
  3. If one side is tighter than the other, simply hold that stretch longer. As you stretch your shoulders regularly, you will want to enjoy equal ranges of motion on both sides to bring your body into balance.
  4. If you are trying to rehabilitate your shoulder, are working to overcome frozen shoulder or the pain of arthritis, I recommend you perform these yoga stretches at least once a day.
  5. Breathe and relax. By breathing and relaxing as much as possible, you access your parasympathetic nervous system and allow the tension to release.
  6. Notice how your lungs naturally expand during these stretches. That makes more oxygen available for your whole body and improves your energy.
  7. Be kind! Your body will respond best through a gentle, patient approach. Every day is different depending on your overall stretch level, whether you have been following an anti-inflammatory diet, how many hours you have spent slumping or even your personal energy level.
  8. Still a lot more going on? The truth is that your shoulders are the most complicated joint in your body. These are two basic stretches you can start out with but I can teach you countless others.

If you have injured your shoulders or are suffering the pain of arthritis, frozen shoulder, kyphosis, rotate cuff injury or any other shoulder injury, call or email today to find out more about how to restore your body to healthy balance. You can work with me in person or via Skype by setting up an appointment at 678-612-8816 or emailing catherine@unlimitedenergynow.com.