You use your shoulders for almost every movement, whether you realize it or not. From hitting a fastball to drinking your morning coffee, your shoulders are involved constantly. Because their normal function is so ubiquitous, it can be easy to forget how important having healthy shoulders is. But just ask anyone who’s suffered a shoulder injury – that ubiquity is a double-edged sword. As easy as healthy shoulders are to forget, injured shoulders are impossible to ignore. In addition, once you hurt a shoulder once, it becomes more likely you’ll reinjure it in the future.
Thankfully, you don’t have to stay idle to keep your shoulders healthy. Here are five easy things you can do to make sure you maintain full range of pain-free motion:
1. Use good posture.
Your mother was right! Bad posture is a very common source of chronic pain. Habitual slouching and hunching puts unnatural stress on your shoulder joints, fatiguing them and making them more susceptible to injury and pain. When you type, make sure your hands rest naturally on the keyboard so your shoulders can relax in a neutral position.
Whether for exercise or just daily flexibility, regular stretching will keep your shoulders loose and healthy. When muscles are in one position for too long, they stiffen, exposing you to injury if you have to make a sudden or unorthodox movement. A good place to start is practicing chest-opening exercises that stretch the pectoral muscles and pull the shoulder blades together. For those who go to the gym, make sure you’re stretching both before and after exertion.
The stronger your muscles are, the more resilient your joints are. Muscles like your rotator cuff and lats provide support and control for your shoulders, so strengthening them will make it harder for the joint to become stressed or dislocated. Consider exercises like rowing or seated pulldowns to build strength.
4. Listen to your shoulders.
If you develop soreness, don’t ignore it. Resting the joints and icing them will reduce the kind of stress and inflammation that makes for annoying, long-lasting pain. If pain persists, see a doctor.
5. Sleep comfortably.
Side sleepers can be especially vulnerable to shoulder pain if their mattress, pillows, or particular sleeping position are putting undue stress on the joint. If you’re waking up stiff, evaluate your sleeping arrangement. Consider alternating sides, changing your pillow shape or firmness, or stretching before bed – sleep should help heal your joints, not damage them.
Following these tips will help keep your shoulders healthy and functional so you can go about your daily activities pain-free. For more information on keeping healthy joints, as well as treating joint pain, please connect with us on social media or at your local PPOA location.