Shoulder pain is often diffuse and non-specific, a vague ache which tightens up your shoulder and which can spread to your neck and back. Your body naturally guards and protects injured areas, sometimes leaving you with a stiff and locked-up feeling, especially in a super-mobile joint like the shoulder. This exercise, which I learned from a physical therapist, can give you some relief.
This exercise should be completely pain-free. If you feel the slightest discomfort in your shoulder, back, low back, etc., stop and read the disclaimer below.
- Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Step forward about 12 to 18 inches with the foot opposite the shoulder you want to loosen up. In this example, we’ll assume that your right shoulder is bugging you, so step forward with your left foot, maintaining your shoulder-width stance.
- Bend forward slightly at the waist and rotate your torso a bit to the left. This puts your right shoulder between, and a little forward of, a line drawn between your feet.
- Let your arm hang, completely relaxed (I imagine that my arm is like a salami hanging in a deli; if you’re a vegetarian or otherwise object to this visualization, feel free to make up your own).
- Using your hips and torso muscles, make circles with your torso, letting your arm swing back and forth and in circles, like a pendulum. Remember, your arm muscles aren’t doing anything; your arm is just hanging and swinging, following the movement of your body.
- Play with the various motions you can create – figure 8s, big circles, small circles, etc. – always using the muscles in your hips and torso to initiate the motion.