As someone who’s feeling a lot of tension and soreness in my shoulders right now, I thought it’d be a good idea to share some shoulder stretches that everyone can and should do whether or not you’re dealing with shoulder issues. You don’t have to be working out a lot to get shoulder pain or tension; a lot of people have shoulder, neck, and back pain just from sitting at their desks all day. With boxing, it’s pretty common for people to experience some sort of shoulder pain or soreness since we’re using our shoulders as we throw punches. Stretching out your shoulders will help to increase mobility, provide relief from any pain that you might have, and improve your posture. There are A LOT of stretches that you can do for your shoulders. In fact, some of the stretches that I’m going to recommend are also yoga poses as you’ll see.
The first stretch and a go-to for me requires something slightly flexible, like a resistance band. This is a dynamic stretch so it’s great to do pre-workout as well as post. Standing straight with legs about shoulder-width apart, hold a resistance band at the ends so that your hands are more than shoulder-width apart. Hold the band out in front of you and then move your arms (which remain straight) up over your head, then behind your head, ending the stretch with the band and your arms as far down as they can go. Then reverse the movement so that the band is back in front of you. Rinse and repeat. I really like this stretch because it opens your chest up while breaking any tension that you might have in your shoulders. (That’s why it’s at the beginning of our Jumpstart Workout Day 25.)
The next stretch is much like a very familiar arm stretch, but done on the floor. It might sound weird as I’m describing it because it’s a lot easier to show this one instead of tell. It’s called the “L arm stretch” or the yoga version similar to it is “thread the needle.” Facing the floor, lay down with one arm straight ahead of you (bent with your hand on the floor is fine too). Using the shoulder muscle on your other side, pull your chest down toward the floor, looping the other arm under and across your chest as you reach toward the opposite side. Make sure not to shrug your shoulder too close to your ear. The L arm stretch is great for your rotator cuff and stretching the back of your shoulder and you’ll really feel this stretch. You can also do this stretch with your upper body on a slightly elevated surface (maybe 2-ish feet off the ground) while your lower body remains on the floor so that you’re kneeling as you do it.
Another great stretch is something that we end on in a lot of the Trifecta classes—the “ragdoll pose.” You know that stretch where you standing with your feet together and legs straight and bend over to try to touch your toes? It’s like that, but instead of trying to touch your toes, fold your arms together above your head and hang as low as you can. Alternatively, you can also hold your arms out behind your back, clasping your hands and pulling them as far as you can toward your head. Clasping your hands behind your back and pulling your arms up and away from your lower back is also a great stretch for your shoulders, chest, bicep, and forearms.
Like I said, stretching your shoulders is a good idea regardless of whether or not you’re feeling tension or soreness. Most people’s shoulders aren’t naturally flexible, so it’s likely your shoulders could benefit from a regular stretching routine to increase range of movement. Also, if you box, having pain-free and relaxed shoulders instead of tight and tense ones will make you perform better and probably feel less tired as you box. And for those of you who have terrible posture while you’re sitting at your desk (most people), this is for you too!