Injuries happen to the best of us. You might not even realize it at first, but your shoulder range of motion will start to decrease and you'll find yourself in pain. This is a sign that something isn't right and needs attention. If left unattended, you might find yourself unable to do day-to-day activities like putting on clothes or driving - things we often take for granted as adults!
Here are the top 3 ways I've found to maintain my shoulder range of motion:
1) Stretch before bed
I like to stretch before I go to bed at night. It's a great way to relax the muscles and relieves any tension you might be holding onto throughout your day.
Make sure that you're keeping proper form during these stretches! You don't want an injury on top of everything else. Don't forget about the breathing techniques as well - in through the nose out through the mouth!
Don't have enough time? Try doing these stretches twice per week instead of every night. They are just as effective when done less frequently but remember they need to be done regularly to maintain your range of motion.
If you have a hard time doing these stretches at night, try them first thing in the morning! This gives you an opportunity every day to keep up with your shoulder mobility and it's important not miss any days if possible. It can also help wake you up before starting your busy day - caffeine optional 🙂
Remember to always warm-up before stretching! A few exercises like going for a walk or jog/light cardio will do just fine but make sure that whatever activity you choose is right for YOU. You don't want risks of injury by trying something new so ease into it gradually until you feel comfortable.
2) Do shoulder exercises regularly
Shoulder exercises are a great way to maintain your range of motion and strengthen those muscles that might have been worn from the day before. I try to do at least one shoulder workout per week, either as part of my regular routine or on its own if time permits. This is especially important once you're dealing with an injury because it will help prevent future injuries - but don't push yourself too hard! Make sure you can handle what you've got going on so you won't find yourself back in pain again. One of the most recommended tools for recovering from a shoulder injury is a shoulder pulley. They're inexpensive, they take very little time and they're incredible effective.
For regular exercise, I like to use resistance bands for these workouts since they only require minimal space, there's no need for any fancy equipment! Best yet? They're cheap & portable. You could even just loop them around a pole if you don't have a door available.
Remember to stretch after your workouts! I know it's tempting just to relax but both activities are equally important and need equal attention in order for them to be effective. Just like any good workout, proper recovery is crucial so that the muscles can rebuild themselves stronger than before - this won't happen without adequate time given. You should aim for at least 5 minutes of stretching post-workout.
Doing these exercises on their own might not be enough though, especially if they aren't challenging you anymore or causing pain (that means: STOP). It could mean that your shoulder range of motion has decreased even further and requires more work put in.
That brings us to our last tip, which is...
3) See a physical therapist if needed
A physical therapist is a great resource if you're dealing with an injury. They'll be able to custom-design a program specifically for your needs and help heal that pain ASAP! It's important not to try and tough it out on your own (trust me, I've tried) because sometimes the only way to feel better again is by working with someone who knows what they are doing - like those trained in physical therapy. Trust their judgement; after all, they know best . That said, make sure you communicate everything as clearly as possible so they can tailor something specific towards you!
Something else about shoulder injuries: don't ever ignore them! If there's even the slightest possibility of being injured, go see a doctor just to play it safe. You don't want to be in more pain than you have to!
Don't wait around for weeks either - most injuries can start healing with the proper treatment within a few days but will take much longer if ignored or not treated correctly! Keep that range of motion going and keep up those stretches so you'll be back at full strength before you know it.
Remember: Maintaining your shoulder range of motion doesn't happen overnight. It takes dedication & consistency over a long period of time to see results, whether that's injury recovery or simply being able to bench press 150 lbs instead of 100 lbs from the beginning. Have the right mindset though and these tips should help guide you through.