First, let’s run some tests.
WHAT IS NORMAL SHOULDER MOBILITY?
Can you lift your arms straight up by your ears? Can you extend your arms back behind you to roughly 60 degrees? Can you bring your palms together overhead with your arms straight? Can you reach one arm up, bend your elbow and touch the middle of your opposite shoulder blade? And bend your other arm back behind you and touch the middle of your opposite shoulder blade that way?
The technical terms for those movements are:
- External Rotation
- Internal Rotation
I would hazard a guess that you aced internal rotation, because you have your arms out in front of you on the bike as well as for many of your other daily activities. But if you have tight lats and/or pecs, you may have struggled with some of the other ranges.
WHY IS NORMAL RANGE OF MOTION IMPORTANT?
Normal range of motion will increase your suppleness, eliminate aches and pains caused by muscular imbalances (lower back pain is often caused by tight hips and hamstrings and pain in between the shoulder blades by tight pecs and anterior deltoids), and reduce your risk of injury.
MISSING RANGES OF MOTION AND POSES TO FOCUS ON
1. LIMITED SHOULDER FLEXION
If you struggle to bring your arms straight up by your ears, you need to stretch the lats, backs of the shoulders (posterior deltoid, teres major) and triceps.
You can hold this pose for several minutes.
2. LIMITED SHOULDER EXTENSION
If you struggle to extend your arms back behind you, you need to stretch your pecs, biceps and fronts of the shoulders (anterior deltoids).
3. LIMITED SHOULDER ADDUCTION AND ABDUCTION
If you can’t bring your palms together overhead with straight arms, you need to stretch the pecs, lats, serratus anterior and shoulders with side-bending poses.
4. LIMITED SHOULDER INTERNAL ROTATION
This is the least likely range to be restricted so please be careful not to over-stretch in these poses.
5. LIMITED SHOULDER EXTERNAL ROTATION
These poses are going to be most beneficial for mountain bikers, to stretch the pecs, subscapularis and fronts of the shoulders.
YOUR 5 CLASSES
Combining shoulder mobility and flexibility is going to give you the best results and is where yoga really excels. Here are 5 sequences for you to try, to evaluate and improve your shoulder mobility.