Modified Yoga Relieves Shoulder Pain

Expert Author Katheryn Hoban

Many active clients come to me with shoulder discomfort and actual shoulder pain. It’s a pain that’s very common, is very inconvenient and causes sleepless nights. Shoulders carry the brunt of; heavy bags, extra weight, the toil of excessive reaching, pulling and pushing, and actual injuries. As I work with clients through the modified yoga poses, we specifically focus on tight and strained shoulders to relieve shoulder pain. The movements are slow and focused to stretch ligaments and shoulder tendons. Shoulder rolls are a great way to begin.

Many of the examples I will describe can be done standing or sitting. Roll both shoulders up and back several times in a slow circles. This starts to ease shoulder tension. Then we can focus on one shoulder at a time. Push one shoulder forward as if you are pushing a soft cloth forward. Do this about ten times or more. Then you can do the same with the other shoulder.

Before we continue to ease shoulder pain and strain, imagine a long horizontal line, which extends straight across the tops of the shoulders, and the line, extends past the sides of the shoulder. I call this the “shoulder line.” To avoid reinjuring a sore shoulder, as much is possible, you have to keep your arm movements, under the shoulder line. For an example; you can start with your back and shoulders rounded forward, and your chin down. Then you place your hands on the sides of your thighs with your elbows bent. I call this exercise “Angel Wings.” Your arms will appear like wings spreading open. If you are standing, keep your back and shoulders rounded, and knees bent, as you move your hands slowly out, to the side, and sweep them up. Imagine if your hands could just touch the imaginary shoulder line. Then you bring them back to rest on your thighs. This could be done slowly five to ten times but it’s really a personal choice.

If you standing interlock your fingers behind you, and slide your fingers down towards the buttocks. This slide helps to relieve shoulder pain. You could also modify this exercise, by using a non-elastic strap or belt. Hold the strap, against the width of your hips, and slide your hands down towards the buttocks. This lengthens the shoulder tendons.

If you are sitting in an armless chair, you will turn your body to either side of the chair, to clear the back of the chair, and interlock your fingers, or use the strap as described. If you are sitting in a chair with arms, move your legs to one side, and come close to the edge of your seat, now you can extend your arms out behind you, to clear the arm of the chair. You will then lean your body forward, and lift your arms slightly up. To remind you that your arms are extended and interlocked behind you, or you are holding the strap, behind you and extending your arms up. This stretches the shoulders in a gentle, focused manner.

If you are standing, to continue with the exercise to ease shoulder pain; your arms are interlocked behind you, or you are using the strap on your hips, for modification. You will round your shoulders and your back up to a slightly forward tilt, and bring your arms, which are behind you, slowly upward, towards the ceiling or sky, as you tilt your body forward. Bending your legs as you lean forward. Lift your arms up behind you at least three times. If you are using the strap, the strap will cause leverage on your arms, to cause a greater stretch. These exercises relieves shoulder pain. It might not go away completely and right away. But it really does work as a daily practice.

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