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The shoulder is one of the most complex parts of the body because it determines how far the body can stretch. There are numerous muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels and so on in the shoulder, which together provide activity and support for the shoulder. At the same time, due to its complex structure, the shoulder is very easy to be injured. Regular shoulder stretching, especially before and after high-intensity upper body exercises, can reduce the risk of muscle fatigue and other injuries.
Part 1: Warming up
1. Improve blood flow.
Make sure your muscles wake up from their "sleep" before stretching and practicing. Warm up by holding your arms flat in front of you with your elbows locked and not moving. Slowly pull your arms back and extend your shoulders into a T shape.
- Before stretching, take a warm bath, apply a warm compress, or just jog in place for a few minutes to strengthen your muscles' flexibility and prevent them from straining.
- By increasing your heart rate through aerobic exercise, your heart pumps more warm blood to the muscles throughout your body, which activates your shoulder joints.
2. Make sure your shoulder isn't injured.
Stretching blindly when your shoulder is already injured is counterproductive, but it's fine if it's just a minor muscle sprain. If you experience a strong tingling sensation while moving your shoulder, it is a sign that your shutdown is likely strained. In this case, you should stop stretching and exercising and consult a professional (e.g. doctor, physical therapist, etc.).
- Moderate stretching is great for mild muscle sprains because it relieves muscle tension, improves blood circulation, and improves flexibility.
- Shoulder joints most prone to sprain include glenohumeral and acromioclavicular joints.
- Applying ice to a sprained joint can help relieve inflammation and reduce the tingling sensation.
3. Move your shoulders in all directions.
Once you've warmed up and made sure there are no obvious shoulder injuries, you're ready to do a thorough, all-directional warm-up of the shoulder. Don't move too fast at first, control each movement and take even deep breaths, because muscle fibers need oxygen to continue to function.
- Raise your arms parallel to the floor on either side and draw a circle with your arms in a clockwise direction for 15 seconds, then reduce the diameter of the circle for another 15 seconds, rest for a few seconds and repeat in a counterclockwise direction.
- Shrug your shoulders as high as you can, trying to get them to touch your ears, then lower them to the lowest level and relax completely. Hold for five seconds at the height of the shrug and repeat 10 times.
Part 2: Performing Shoulder Stretches
1. Start by stretching your chest muscles.
These muscles are in constant tension and are used to pull the shoulder muscles forward.
- Find a door. Raise your arms and straighten them, parallel to the floor. Grab the doorpost and slowly lean forward, with your arms behind your shoulders and your chest muscles, upper arms, and front deltoids stretched. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch to the other side and repeat for 3-5 sets.
2. Stretch the trapezius muscle by bending the neck to both sides.
- The superior trapezius is a large surface muscle that extends from the top of the neck (the base of the skull) to the shoulder blades and the ends of the shoulders. It's involved when you shrug your shoulders, as well as when your shoulders are sore and stiff, and it's one of the most stressful, tense (and sometimes even headache-inducing) muscle groups in your body. This stretch is recommended for 10 to 15 seconds.
3. Stretch the rhomboid muscle.
Find a pole or other solid object to hold, and relax your shoulders as you lean down, stretching your arms and feeling the tension from your shoulder blades. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
- Located in the upper part of the back, the rhomboid muscles connect the shoulder blades to the thoracic vertebrae and are responsible for the contraction of the shoulder blades.  Rhomboid muscle soreness occurs when you are out of shape (including a hunchback) or sedentary.
4. For a more thorough stretch, try pulling a towel on your back.
This action is relatively complex, and requires a certain degree of flexibility, mainly stretching the front side of the shoulder joint of the internal rotation muscle and the back side of the external rotation muscle, as well as the upper arm of the triceps posterior side. Keep your neck and thoracic spine as straight as possible while performing this maneuver. Do a set of 8-12 reps for a total of four sets.
- Hold one side of the towel with one hand, bend it backwards from the top of your head, and put the towel behind your back. Hold the other end of the towel with the other hand from the back upwards. Pull the towel up and down under the premise of maintaining a certain tension.
- Try to be slow at first, preferring to increase the number of times slowly rather than to rush so as to avoid injury.
- If you have scoliosis or thoracic problems, be sure to consult your doctor before attempting these maneuvers.
- Paying attention to your breathing as you stretch will both open up the muscle fibers and distract your brain from the length of the stretch.
- If you stretch correctly, you won't feel muscle soreness the next day; If so, you are overstretching and should reduce the intensity next time.
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