BH associate editor Lisa Hannam recently wrote about a chest and shoulder stretch for our summer issue. This is really helpful in preventing damage to the rotator cuff and for helping lengthen the muscles at the front of the shoulders.
I thought it was a great stretch for my husband, who was a rower for years and now has a problem with his shoulder becoming dislocated periodically (the doctor said it’s related to his rotator cuff). He will probably have surgery to fix it, but in the meantime I thought this move might be good when things are tightening up.
But last week I developed a tightness in my right shoulder that goes from the right side of my upper chest muscle right around to the muscles in the back of my right shoulder. The pain was so bad at times that I couldn’t lift my arm out to my side higher than my waist. I went for a massage in an effort to get some relief, but I woke up more sore the next day.
During my last workout I was telling my trainer, Todd, about the pain (and hoping he’d ease up on me as a result!). He asked me some specifics and said it sounds like my rotator cuff! So, now I’m trying to do a couple of different stretches to keep things from being so tight, including the corner stretch Lisa wrote about (funny thing, that timing). Todd suggested we add some exercises using hand weights (3lb) to strengthen the area around my shoulders. These are done lying on my left side, propped up on one arm and my other arm is flat along the right side of my body but bent at my waist. I lift the weight in this hand slowly to be even with my body, then back down. The movement is easy but is meant to strengthen my shoulder muscles.
I’ve always had bad posture, which doesn’t help, so I’m also stepping up my efforts to really pull my shoulders back when I’m sitting (not easy when you work at a computer for the majority of the day) in an effort to keep my chest muscles from tightening and pulling my shoulders forward. Hopefully I’ll have this resolved in a week or so because I’ve quickly realized how much our summer activities are tied to that simple movement of raising your arms!