Medically Reviewed by Ignatios Papas, DO
The concept of a stretch a day is designed to improve your overall health and flexibility. The operative portion of this phrase is “a day” because achieving healthy tissue flexibility after decades of repetitive motions in sports or every day life takes time. Mobility and strength expert, Christopher Sommers states, “Improving your flexibility is a race that is won not with speed, but with patience and consistency (1).”
One key area that gets riddled with tightness over time is the shoulder. Our posture from computer work, driving, phone use, and even bicep curls can cause our shoulders to round forward and become tight. Then, this tightness leads to muscle imbalances that then lead to pain in the shoulder joint.
There is a humongous muscle that plays a huge role in shoulder health: the latissimus dorsi, or “the lat” muscle. The lat is responsible for pulling the shoulder bone, the humerus, into extension, adduction, and internal rotation.
These three motions are the exact opposite of the motions that allow your arm to go overhead. If we encounter a patient with shoulder pain, especially when going overhead in motions like an overhead press, reaching for something on a high shelf, or even taking a shirt on and off, the lat is in our lineup of muscles to explore.
The following stretch is one intervention that can make a huge difference on the healthy length of the lat.
The Rotated Child’s Pose Stretch can be performed as follows:
- Start on all fours and push your hips back so your buttocks rest on your heels. You may want to have your knees apart to be more comfortable.
- Reach forward with your hands and hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Next, reach to one side with both hands and hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Then, reach to the other side and hold the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
- Work up to holding each position for up to 3 minutes.
- For best results, repeat this stretch two times daily.
Sometimes the difference between a healthy joint and a joint riddled with pain is as simple as a daily habit. Not all pain we experience needs an intervention like muscle relaxers, injections or surgery. If shoulder pain is limiting you, try this stretch, but make sure to ease into it. There is no benefit from pushing too deeply into a stretch, so if you try this and you feel any discomfort, ease up on the time you hold the stretch, or how deeply you go into it. Another tip is to soften the bend in your elbows to downgrade the intensity of the stretch until you’re ready to take it to the next level. If you’re enjoying this stretch and desire more resources to improve your shoulder health, check out our blog on DIY Exercises to Beat Shoulder Pain.
First and foremost, though, please consult your physician before starting a new fitness or stretching regimen to make sure it’s correct and healthy for you. Or, if you have shoulder pain and even consistent mobility isn’t moving the needle on your discomfort it might be time to come get an evaluation by one of our Regenexx at New Regeneration Orthopedics of Florida physicians in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, or Orlando. We would love the opportunity to help you get to a shoulder-pain-free life.