Purpose: To strengthen the front and side muscles of the shoulder, as well as reinforce scapular stability, which helps carry over to everyday functional activities, such as lifting, reaching, etc.
Instructions: Set your shoulder blades before you start - pull them back and down. Put a band under your feet and hold the ends with your arms down to your side. Keeping good posture, with your core braced and trunk not moving, lift your arms straight out to the the side (abduction), return to resting, then straight out in front of you (flexion). Repeat 3 sets of 10, resting between each set.
Common Errors: Not keeping your shoulders down as your arm lifts up - this is usually a compensation, where you are using your trapezius muscles between the shoulder and the neck, to help lift, but the lift should come from the shoulder joint. Also, if you're arching your back to get the arms up higher, you might need a lighter resistance band to work on technique first.
Purpose: This is a progression from doing the "YTA"s with the theraband. It is more challenging to the core and shoulder stability muscles by moving against gravity with weights.
Instructions: Lie on a gym ball, on your stomach, and engage your back muscles by extending up, so you can look ahead of you. Set your shoulders and neck first, hold small weight dumbbells (2lbs to start) then perform the Y, T, and As, returning your arms to hang in front of the ball. Perform 3 sets of 10, resting between each set.
Common Errors: Rounding over the ball is indicative of not engaging the back extension muscles, or not setting the shoulders properly before performing this exercise. Breathing is also important, watch that you don't hold your breath as you lift your arms.
Purpose: To stretch the muscles at the front of the hip, which tend to become shortened or tight with common postures such as lower cross syndrome, or when we sit for prolonged periods during the day. Releasing these muscles can help move the pelvis and help with back and knee pain.
Instructions: Kneeling on the ground with the leg you are to stretch, step out into a lunge position with the other one. Square your hips, engage your core, and lean forward, leading with the hips and not the shoulders. Do not lean back when you do this, but squeeze your glute to get a deeper stretch. Hold for 30 seconds, perform 3 times. Repeat on the opposite side, even if you do not have pain on that side.
Common Errors: Leaning backwards or forwards, instead of letting the hips guide the movement. Not stepping out far enough with the opposite leg can put strain on the knee.
Purpose: These are great stretches for the shoulder muscles in 4 directions.
Instruction: Use pull-up bands or another strong band attached to something high. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.
1 - For the first stretch, with the band in your palm, bend forward at the hips, letting the band pull your arm in opposition. You should feel a stretch in your armpit and down your side chest.
2 - For the second stretch, stand with your arm in the band across your body. You should feel this stretch across the side of your shoulder and arm.
3 - For the third stretch, turn so your arm in the band stretches to the side then behind you. You should feel this stretch across the chest and front of the arm.
4 - For the fourth stretch, lift your arm above your head and behind your head, facing away from the band. Keep your palm straight up and let the band pull your elbow up and back.
Common Errors: Make sure to keep your core engaged, and let the bands pull your arm in each direction until you feel a comfortable, but not painful pull. The technique is key to feel a stretch - watch the video to see hand placement with the band.
Purpose: This is an exercise to stretch the quadriceps muscle at the front of the leg.
Instruction: Grab onto your ankle and pull your leg up towards your glutes until you feel a stretch at the front of your thigh. Hold the position for 30 seconds. Reverse position and repeat with other leg. For extra stretch, squeeze the glute of the leg you're stretching, and bend your foot up at the ankle.
Common Errors: Not keeping the hips square and forward - squeeze your glute to get an extra stretch. Stand up tall, not hunching forward, and if you struggle to grab your foot or ankle, grabbing your pant leg will work.
Purpose: This exercise is a good way to set your head and neck position before doing many of the neck, shoulder, and upper back exercises. It helps to counteract forward head posture by stretching the muscles at the back of the skull and to strengthen the deep neck flexors.
Instructions: Sit or stand up tall, and tuck your chin back, like you're making a double chin. Hold for a few seconds and release, for about 10 times.
Common Errors: Tilting your head down - this is not a chin to chest movement! Make sure your head goes back, not down.
Purpose: To stretch the piriformis muscle, a hip rotator, which can be tight and create lower back pain.
Instructions: Lie on your back, bending one knee and placing your ankle over the other knee, in a figure 4 position. grab onto your opposite leg and pull both legs forward until you feel a stretch at the back of your crossed leg.
Common Errors: Straining your neck to bend it forward - make sure when you assume the position, then relax your head back.
Purpose: This stretches the quadratus lumborum (QL) muscle in both sides of your lower back, as well as promotes spinal rotation.
Instructions: Lie on one side, with hips and knees stacked on top of each other, or use a foam roller or something similar to rest the top knee on. Keep your hips and knees together through the whole stretch, and reach your top arm over and back, as far as you can to feel a stretch in your side body, back, and through the front of your shoulder.
Common Errors: Letting the knees come apart, or the top knee to drop behind the bottom one. It's more important to keep your knees together for this exercise than it is to be able to touch the ground, so make sure you keep good form before stretching any farther.
Purpose: To improve the core strength, form, and endurance. This exercise also reinforces the use of the pelvic tilt in functional exercises.
Instructions: Start on your forearms and knees or on your stomach and forearms , engage your core muscles, and lift up so you're supported only by your forearms and toes. Look a little bit ahead of you on the ground, pelvic tilt, squeeze your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to hold this pose for 30 seconds at first, gradually increasing the time when you progress this exercise.
Common Errors: Sticking your butt come too high in the air - your body should be a straight line from the shoulders to the heels. Drop your butt and pelvic tilt. If this is difficult, try it first on your knees - assume the plan position shown in the video, then drop down onto your knees without losing your core engagement. Hold the position here.
Purpose: To stretch the muscles of your chest, your pectoralis muscles. These tend to be tight with common postures such as forward head posture, or upper crossed syndrome, where the muscles in the upper back are loose, and the muscles in the chest are tight.
Instructions: Stand in a doorway with your arms on the frame, take a step through the doorway until you feel a stretch across the front of your chest. Your arm position can move up and down depending on where you feel the stretch. Make sure you maintain good standing posture throughout the whole stretch. Hold for 30 seconds.
Common Errors: Looking down during the stretch - you will feel a greater stretch as well as encourage better posture if you look up!
Shelton Sports and Spine | Shelton, CT Chiropractor | Dr. Jason Queiros | Dr. Ryan Pegolo | Sports Chiropractic