WOW!  April is already coming to a close.  Hard to believe how fast the year is flying by already.  Summer weather is just around the corner.

And if you're like most people, warmer weather means more activities.  Whether it's the company picnic, yard work for the house, or just being out enjoying the warmer temperatures, we all become a bit more active.

But what about the last 3-5 months? 

Chances are you were a lot less active, especially if the weather was less than pleasant to be out in.  That means your body could use a little tune-up before you start all those activities.  Chances are you could use a little do-it-yourself fix it guide -- for your shoulders.  After all, no matter what your activity, I suspect you'll be using your arms and shoulders a lot more frequently than you did during the winter months.

So don't leave yourself open to injury. Get your body, and this month your shoulders, ready for the fun in the sun.

If you know me, you know I'm big on doing the right movements, in the right order, to get the best results. 

So first things first.

Let's start by getting your body and specifically your shoulders, ready to do some work.

Self Myofascial Release (self massage)

Now that your body is warmed up, you'll be able to stretch it properly and prepare it for exercise.

Shoulder Stretches

So let's move to the exercises that will almost guarantee you have no shoulder pain during your active summer.

Shoulder Exercise 1  

Shoulder Exercise 2  

Shoulder Exercise 3  

Shoulder Exercise 4  

Shoulder Exercise 5

There's your Do-It-Yourself Guide to stronger, healthier shoulders.
Just this morning I was approached by a regular I know from the gym asking how to get rid of shoulder and elbow pain.  He was complaining of numbness running down his arm and just an overall ache. He admitted having the habit of sleeping on his shoulders, and leaning to that same side while watching TV in his favorite chair. And of course still insists on doing heavy bench press with a barbell. 

I helped him understand that it was quite possible that the elbow pain he was experiencing was likely due the the lack of alignment in his shoulder.  And it may be possible that merely stretching and aligning his shoulder could allow his elbow to reset itself.  If not, I had an excellent sports chiropractor I could refer.

Knowing him, I realized I was not likely going to talk him out of doing heavy bench press with a barbell.  At least not yet anyway. 

So I gave him a little taste of what I've been sharing you all this past month. We first went through some specific rotator cuff movements to warm the shoulder capsule.  Then I showed him some general stretches to open up the chest and shoulder area.  Followed by the movements from my previous posts this month, as well as the one below.

Whether it's to get rid of pain or avoid having it in the first place, don't neglect your shoulder -- rotator cuff work. 

Here's this week's shoulder saver.


Apr
15
2011
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I know you're going to think I made this up, but it is 100% true. 

Not more than a week ago, a client of mine expressed that he was having pain in his right shoulder and neck area, and couldn't figure out why. 

So we reviewed the new movements he was doing in his program -- actually had him go through a few of them.  No, those didn't seem to be creating any discomfort. 

We talked about his work -- the amount of hours sitting at his desk have actually gotten less over the past the few months. 

So we explored what has changed at home -- outside of the obvious -- he recently had a child.  --BINGO!--  Originally, he didn't notice it, but recently he's been picking his newborn up more, carrying him, and holding him for extended periods.  So far that has really been the only change that he can think of in his daily and weekly routine.

This is not the first time I've heard this.  Trainers, clients and friends have all commented at one time or another about one shoulder being more sore than the other a few weeks or months after having a child.

And 9 times out of 10, you know what else?

When they are consistent with their shoulder stretches and exercises the shoulder pain goes away -- mysteriously.

I shared this client's experience because I have worked with literally hundreds of people, that start using one shoulder more than the other, each for different reasons, and end up with the same, "I don't know what's going on, but this shoulder has really started bother me", experience. 

Shoulder pain can come from the most common activities that we do everyday and don't think about it for a second.  Whether it's a wonderful new addition to the family, the posture you sit/lay in while watching TV or reading the paper, a laptop, sleeping on your shoulders, or too many pressing movements at the gym.  Shoulder pain is often times just an issue of alignment.

Practice the stretches I've shared with you along with the shoulder movements from this month and you'll be out of shoulder pain fast!

Don't just take my word for it -- Try them.


Apr
08
2011
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They say over 70% of people experience some form of back pain than that stops them from doing what they enjoy.  I'd be willing to bet at least that same amount of people experience some form of shoulder pain that does the same thing -- stop you from enjoying the life you deserve. 

Last week I shared with you that shoulder pain doesn't just come from doing lots of pressing movements in the gym, it can also come from just living life. The main thing to understand is that keeping your shoulders healthy requires specific exercises that you won't see the average gym person doing.

Why?

Because 9 times out of 10 most people train their body to create a certain look. Not taking into consideration how it functions. So most often you'll witness people training the muscles they can see, rather than the muscles that matter.  It doesn't matter what you look like if you can't do the things you truly enjoy doing.
                 
I don't care if it's tennis, golf, boxing, softball, beach volleyball, rollerblading or gardening; as long as it's something you truly enjoy doing. Something that, when you do it, makes your hard week of work all seem worth it.  And the only way to be able to continue to do "that" activity or get you back to enjoying "that" activity, is to take good care of your body by training the muscles that matter as well as the ones you can see.

So here is the your next installment for getting you out of shoulder pain or making sure you don't ever have to experience it. 


Well, let's get right to it shall we.

This month I want to focus on helping you get out of shoulder pain.  Far too many people suffer from it and there is honestly no reason to continue to live with it. 

I can't tell you how many times I see someone getting up from doing a bench press and rubbing their shoulder.  Instant hint that there is something going on that's about to get much worse in the shoulder.  But shoulder exercises and rotator cuff exercises are not just for those that do bench pressing movements.  Heck No!




Spend your day hunched over a computer?

Carry your child around the mall or at the park?

Tend to carry your purse or laptop on one shoulder consistently?

Sleep on your shoulders?

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, then this month is especially for you. 

Our shoulders take a beating day in and day out.  In our society we live our life in a forward posture all too often.  This constant forward posture can lead to all sorts of problems, from the obvious shoulder pain or discomfort, to neck pain, and yes, believe it or not, even lower back pain.

Everything is connected!

If you spend your day in poor posture, no matter what the reason, it's only a matter of time before your body starts giving you signals that something is wrong.  Now like most people you'll probably solve the problem by first avoiding the movements or activities that give you pain or discomfort.  But that is only a short term fix.  That's kind of like turning up the volume on the car radio when you hear a rattling noise in your car.  And as we all know, turning up the radio won't fix the rattle.  Likewise avoiding certain movements or activities won't make the problem in your shoulders go away either.

It's an alignment issue most likely. All of that hunching over the computer, sleeping on your shoulders, etc. all lead to creating a misalignment in your shoulders.  And like your car tires, a misalignment is only going to wear your shoulder joint out sooner.  But of course not before it gives you a great deal of pain in the process.

So every Friday this month I will share with you an exercise you can do to help re-align your shoulders.  But of course being me, I want to get as much out of the movement as I can, so I'm going to ask you to perform these movements using a Swiss Ball.  Using the Swiss Ball will force you to activate your core (think tensing your abdominal muscles).  In this way you'll get a bit of core training while getting your shoulder back in alignment.

Always remember, when performing these movements be sure to keep your shoulders and ears as far apart as possible.  The goal is to put your shoulders back in alignment, under your ears.  I also want to encourage you to keep as much space as you can between your shoulders and ears.  So during the movements be sure to reach for your ankles as you proceed backwards in each of the movements.


If you'll remember last week I shared with you 7 of The Most Important Stretches if you spend your day at a desk.  Well as promised here's the other half of the equation.  Stretching is only half of the solution to getting out of pain.  The other half is Massage. And if you can't get to a massage therapist as often as you'd like, self-massage is the next best thing.  It provides many of the same benefits, loosening tight muscles and breaking up scar tissue that accumulates from either working out or from poor posture for long periods of time (think sitting over a desk working).

Truth be known, it only takes 7 minutes to feel the relief of self-massage.  But if you really want to get all of the "bugs" out, and really break-up that tight tissue, try 15-30 minutes of the techniques I demonstrate in the videos below.  Whether it's 7 minutes, or 15-30 minutes, it's a small price to pay to get out of pain and stay that way.  And for those of you that are really serious about kicking pain out on it's ear, do your self-massage followed by your stretching and watch how fast you get results.

And if you don't have your own tube, please visit my store and pick up your Energy F/X Tube. I promise it will last much longer than you're average tube or roller. I use my Energy F/X Tube 8-10 hours a day, 6 days a week with clients and it's still going strong over 1yr later!






After last Friday's post I received quite a few emails regarding which were the most important stretches. "I don't have time to do them all Kurt, c'mon."  So I thought it might be a good idea if I broke the stretches down into groups so that you can use them more effectively.

By and large most of my clientele spend the majority of their day sitting at a desk.  They tell me that they have few if any opportunities to get up from their desk for any length of time. And if they do, it's usually to go to a meeting where they spend anywhere from 2-4hrs sitting again. 

As all of you know, who have been following my posts, sitting for long periods of time has significant consequences to your body.  Especially your lower back, knees and sometimes wrists (depending how much time you spend on the computer).  So let's get rid of that pain and discomfort.

Below I have listed the 7 most important stretches if you're a person who is stuck at a desk for most of the day.

I would encourage you to do these stretches a minimum of 1x/day. They will take you approximately 15-30 minutes to do.  Not much time to invest to get out of pain.  Think about it for a second.  You spend 4-8 hours sitting.  I'm just asking for 30 minutes a day to get you out of pain, and help you decrease your stress level. Sounds like a good investment to me.

 This is Stretch#1.

Position your body with your right leg bent at a 45 degree angle. Straighten your back leg with the toe facing the floor. Position your upper body so that your knee is in line with your sternum (chest bone). Hips should be parallel to the floor.  You should feel no pain in the knee. If you do stop immediately. This pose is also know as Pigeon.

Hold position for 7 breaths.
 

This is Stretch #2.


Begin on your knees, with your knees out wide, resting on forearms. Then straighten one leg out to the side. Be sure that the toe of the straight leg is in line with the knee of the kneeling leg. If possible, reach out to touch toe of straight leg with same side hand.


Repeat movement 3 times on both sides.


 This is Stretch #3.

With your calves against the supporting surface take a medium to large step forward. Place one foot, shoe strings down, on the stable support surface behind you. Kneeling down bring the back leg knee to the floor. Now if you're just beginning you may need to place a pillow under your knee for cushion and to decrease the intensity of the stretch. Be sure that the front leg knee is bent at a 90 degree angle and the shin is perpendicular to the floor.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat on other side.



This is Stretch#4.

Begin with your head, forearms, shoulder blades, and butt against the wall.  Feet should be 6-8" away from wall. Make sure there is minimal space between your lower back and wall.
 


Ending position for Stretch #4.

Extend your arms up and out into a 'Y' position. Be sure to keep forearms and hands in contact with the wall at all times.

Repeat movement 7-10 times.


This is Stretch #5.

Taking a lunge position halfway through a doorway, use this inverted 'V', place your hands on a door frame and gently lean forward until a stretch is felt in the shoulder, chest and/or arms. Make sure your weight is evenly balanced between the front and back leg.

Hold this position for 5-7 seconds.  Repeat 2-3 times.


This is Stretch #6.


Stand straight and clasp your hands behind your back.



Ending position Stretch #6.

Tuck hips underneath you (by flexing your butt) and tighten your stomach, move clapsed hands towards floor, while pulling shoulders back and lifting chest. This should create erect posture. Be sure not to arch lower back.

Hold for 5-7 breaths. Repeat 3-5 times.


This is Stretch#7 (1/3).
This stretch is often called Child's Pose. From a kneeling position, toes pointed straight back, sit backwards so that you are sitting on the heels of your shoes. Reach forward with both arms, far enough to feel a stretch in the lower back and shoulders.

Hold for 7-10 seconds
 


Stretch #7 (2/3)

Keeping your legs where they are at, engage your abs and move both arms to the right until a stretch is felt on the left side of the body. Think of making your body into a half circle. Be sure to remain seated on your heels.


Hold for 7-10 seconds.



Stretch #7 (3/3).

Now do the same process you did for the above picture for the left side.

Hold for 7-10 seconds.

Well, there you go.  The 7 most important stretches for those of you who spend way too many hours seated at your desk.  These quick 7 should get you out pain and help you stay that way. 

As always let me know what you think.
Since May of this year, I've been sharing with you various stretches and exercises to help you get out of pain and stay that way.  From the questions and emails I've been receiving it seems as though a reminder of the blogs would be really helpful.  As I promised early on in my blog post, I am committed to providing reliable, useful, practical information that will assist you in getting out of pain and staying that way.

If your having Shouler Pain:

Try these stretches and exercises to get rid of pain and stay that way:

Shoulder Stretches Group 1

Shoulder Stretches Group 2

Shoulder Exercises Group 1

Shoulder Exercises Group 2

Having Wrist Pain, don't forget these tried and true movements:

Painful Wrists Stretches and Exercises

Lower Back Pain, remember these stretches for the hip and lower back:

Back Pain Stretches Group 1

Back Pain Stretches Group 2

Back Pain Stretches Group 3

Knee Pain have you limping around? Try these:

Knee Pain Exercises

So there you go. The bodypart where you're experiencing pain listed just above the stretches and exercises. It doesn't get much easier than that.

With this well outlined group of stretches and exercises you should have no problem getting out of pain and staying that way.  But I feel I have to remind you, you have to do them consistently if you want them to work. Doing these movements once in a while will not get you results. Make the committment, get out of pain and go do what you already enjoy doing . . . . better!

Have a great Labor Day Weekend.
Sometimes I think people believe things have to be very complicated and exotic in order to get results. 

That's not true. 

Things just have to be consistent and effective.  When it comes to your body, all you need are simple movements that are consistently done - namely stretching and strengthening. 

As I shared with you last week, stretching is just part of keeping yourself pain free.  Stretching will relieve the immediate pain and start you on the road to recovery, but equally important are the strengthening exercises you do to create and maintain proper alignment and keep you out of pain!

As this is the last in my series on shoulder pain, I've included a worksheet of 5 very important exercises that you can print and take with you. That way you'll be sure that you're doing the exercises correctly and taking one more step to getting yourself out of pain and staying that way.

At this point, between all of the stretches I've shared with you, in addition to the exercises, you have enough information to get your shoulders pain free and keep them that way.  If you need a little extra help, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Here's your free worksheet. 5 more Shoulder_Rehab_Movements_(blog_208-20-2010).pdf to get and keep you PAIN FREE.

As always, please let me know how they worked for you.
For a bit of time I've been sharing a variety of stretches with you.  Now it's time for some exercises.  Truth be known, stretching is only 1 part of the process.  Stretching will relieve the immediate pain and start you on the road to recovery, but equally important is the strengthening of the area that is weak and out of alignment -- thus causing pain.

Check out the 2 stretches below to get you started on pain free shoulders.  Don't forget the previous blogs on shoulder stretches so you have all the tools you'll need to stay pain free.

This is Part#1. (X)

This exercise is known as X, X, T. Thus you should perform an X movement, another X movment and then a T movement before starting the process again.

From a standing postion, knees slightly bent, hands in front of body at waist height, take a band, anchored at knee height or lower, into an 'X' position as shown. Hold position for 1-2 seconds and return to start position.  Abs should be activated to stabalize core. Repeat 7-10 times.
 

Part #2. (X)


From a standing postion, knees slightly bent, hands in front of body at waist height, take a band, anchored at knee height or lower, into an 'X' position as shown. Hold position for 1-2 seconds and return to start position.  Abs should be activated to stabalize core. Repeat 7-10 times.

Part #3.  (T)

From a standing postion, knees slightly bent, hands in front of body at waist height, take a band, anchored at knee height or lower, into an 'T' position as shown. Hold position for 1-2 seconds and return to start position.  Abs should be activated to stabalize core. Repeat 7-10 times.
Here is another of my favorite shoulder exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff. I call it Pull Rotate. Simple enough. Click the video and learn another movement to get and keep your shoulders pain free. Repeat this movement as the others, 7-10 times.