by Olesya Novik
Click. Crack. Pop.
Is this the sound of your morning bowl of puffed rice cereal, or is it the sound your creaking shoulder joints make every day? Unfortunately for most, it’s the latter.
But don’t fret; I’m about to share with you a secret stretch (okay, maybe it’s not really a “secret” — but it really isn’t all that well known) that will lessen your shoulder pain tremendously — if not completely eliminate it over time. This little known stretch has worked wonders for anyone I have had do it, with some even calling their pain relief a miracle.
The best part is that it requires very little effort, very little time, and based on my firsthand experience, yields tremendous results.
I’ve been a coach for over 10 years, and in that time I’ve had my share of clients coming to me with both sports and non-sports related injuries looking for help achieving their fitness goals. What I began to notice, is that the majority of my clients came to me with mild to severe shoulder pain. This always undoubtedly hindered their progress in the gym as it prevented them from performing many beneficial upper body exercises.
I decided it was time to take action.
I started to research different methods of exercise and various stretching techniques that were supposed to help rehab injured shoulders and better condition the shoulder joint area for pain free movement. Nothing really stood out or was anything that I’d not heard of or read. Finally, I came across a great book, called “Super Joints: Russian Longevity Secrets for Pain-Free Movement, Maximum Mobility & Flexible Strength,” by Pavel Tsatsouline.
After visiting some relatives in Eastern Europe and working out at a local gym, I soon realized that one particular exercise from this book was modified and used by others there to help alleviate their all too common shoulder pain issues. In this Pavel’s book, the exercise is referred to as the Shoulder Dislocation stretch.
While I don’t particularly care for the name, I cannot argue with its results. However, to not cause panic and fear in the hearts of those already experiencing shoulder issues, I’ve chosen to ignore the name and call it the shoulder roll. I began to have all my clients who’d experienced shoulder problems perform this shoulder exercise, and their rehabiliation was always astonishing.
Now, it’s time for you to experience pain-free shoulder joint movement as well.
Note: Please consult your doctor or a physical therapist before performing this or any other exercise to obtain proper clearance as I would not recommend this exercise for someone with a partial tear of a rotator cuff muscle. Please do not forget to use common sense and only do what you can do comfortably.
Using a long rope, towel, or a long wooden stick (I find that a wooden stick works best), take a wide, really loose overhand grip, and keep your arms straight with the stick resting on the front of your legs. Maintaining the straight arm position, inhale and raise the stick up and over your head and down back behind you. Take the stick all the way down to the lower portion of your back, then, keeping your arms straight, exhale and slowly return the stick up overhead and down in front of your body. This counts as 1 repetition.
If at first you find that you cannot make the complete movement, your grip is either too tight or too narrow. It’s necessary to let the stick almost roll through your fingers as you go about the entire circle. However, always maintain the straight arms!
You’ll most likely also have to move your grip out very wide to do the movement — especially at first. Move your hand spacing on the stick as wide as necessary to perform each repetition as described.
Pay close attention to the rep speed as well. The entire movement is to be performed slowly and in a controlled manner, with caution. Do not rush each repetition, as this can lead to injury. Your chest should be naturally forcing outward and you should be feeling your shoulders pulled back.
When you first attempt this stretch, your upper body will feel extremely tight. Again, only do what is comfortable to you.
Perform this shoulder roll as often as possible. You can begin by doing two sets of ten repetitions, every other day, and eventually working your way up to a straight set of twenty five, daily. When you become advanced and gain some shoulder flexibility, I recommend performing a single straight set of fifty repetitions daily.
The more you do the exercise, the faster you will see results. I suggest performing the exercise every other day in the beginning, trying to work up to doing it daily. The most important note is that you do the stretch slowly, and over time, are able to move your grip closer on the stick. This will not only lead to increased should flexibility, but as many of my clients will tell you, it’ll also result in the shoulder pain slowly disappearing.
No matter how often you perform this shoulder roll, I always advise to start off with a wider than normal grip for the first few reps and slowly move in your hand spacing as you slowly warm up your shoulder joints. Always take it slow and controlled and when advanced try to push the limits of your shoulder stretch.
Shoulder Pain, Gone!
I find that in most cases, my clients notice dramatic improvement in the first couple weeks. I’ve witnessed many success stories where they were totally pain free in less than a month!
I must warn you that in the beginning, these stretches will be very difficult to complete. You are going to experience so much blood flow to your shoulders that the pump you get will make it feel like your shoulders are on fire. The pump you get from this exercise is incredible. Learn to work past the pump and really push into the stretch. Take it slow and enjoy the burn!
Start this exercise as soon as possible to reap all the benefits of having trouble free shoulders.