Loosen up your shoulders
Lie down on the floor or on an exercise mat with your hands spread to the sides.
1. Bend your knees at a 45° angle, keeping your feet firmly on the ground and your kneecaps pointing up. Don’t tilt your head back. If you have trouble, you could fold a towel or pillow under your head.
Lift one arm to form a 90° angle, keeping the shoulder firmly on the floor.
Now stretch your hand up, so your shoulder rises above the floor, but just a little. Go only as far as you can get without pain.
Release your shoulder, allowing it to drop down, lightly tapping against the floor.
Repeat several times, over at least a minute, on each side.
2. Beginning from the same position, with your shoulder on the floor, this time you’ll turn your whole right arm so that your thumb faces your knees and the back of your hand faces you. Now turn your hand back. If it’s hard to rest your shoulder, move your hand further up or down until you find a comfortable spot.
Don’t twist your arm at the elbow — the point is to turn your whole arm as one. Your collarbone will be moving as you do the exercise. Keep breathing! Repeat for a minute. Now do the other arm.
Other ways to loosen your shoulders
Stand perpendicular to a wall, and rest your shoulder against it. Now make 10 big, slow circles backwards with your arm, aiming to stay in contact with the wall if you can. Repeat 10 times. Now circle forwards, still against the wall. Don’t slouch or round your back, especially when going forward. Repeat on the other side. Again, if anything hurts, slow down and move less.
Now face the wall and place your palms on it, with your arms straight. Can you pull your shoulder blades together, without moving your arms? Keep playing with it until you minimize your arm movement. Now try broadening your back, pulling your shoulder blades away. When you can do both motions without moving your arms, alternate.
Don’t stress about neck and shoulder pain
Necks and shoulders just hurt sometimes. “Worrying about the pain may be literally the worst thing you can do — not just a poor coping mechanism, but a genuine risk factor. Like noise pollution, the more you focus on it, the worse it gets,” Ingraham writes.
Most problems can be handled with rest at first, followed by exercise. Get help if the pain has lasted more than six weeks without improvement and you have other red flags.
The other red flags include fevers or chills, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, severe headaches, numbness in your limbs, or poor hand coordination.
You may hear from friends that you need an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI to check for signs of arthritis. But arthritis doesn’t mean you have a serious problem requiring surgery. People under the age of 50 with signs of degeneration in their spine are more likely to have low back pain, for example, but lots of people with degeneration don’t have pain — and you can be one of them. Poor posture and lack of exercise are more often the real problem. Have a talk with your doctor before you rush to conclusions.
March 27, 2020
Janet O’Dell, RN