Stretch Those Shoulders

Is stretching a regular part of your self-care routine?  If so, out of all the stretches you’ve tried, which ones do you feel are the most effective for you?  I would guess that most stretchers know lots of different holds or movements, but they only have a small core set of stretches they do most often.  For me, I have a shoulder, thoracic spine, hip, quad and posterior chain stretch that I do on a regular basis.  They hit all the main areas and can be done in a short period of time, say 10-20 minutes.  Today I’d like to introduce you to my go-to shoulder stretch, the passive hang.

The passive hang, or dead hang, is just that; you passively hang from an overhead bar.  You want to relax everything besides your grip and let your body weight do the work.  You can choose a bar that allows your feet to stay on the ground so you can control how much weight is applied.  If your shoulders are supple and fit, you can try a bar height that allows you to dangle freely.  And that’s it.  Just relax, hang out and enjoy the stretch.

I personally find this stretch to be very profound and beneficial.  It stretches the arteries and nerves that innervate the arms.  It stretches the shoulder capsule.  It counter- stretches the muscles and tissues involved in “rounding of the shoulders”, a shoulder position we find ourselves in at the computer, desk or in the car.  It decompresses the spine.  It will also improve your grip strength.  Lastly in this abbreviated list is the benefit of putting your shoulders through their natural overhead range of motion, which is a movement in our modern lifestyle that gets sorely neglected.   Use it or lose it.

Where can the passive hang be done, you ask?  If you keep your eyes peeled, places to hang start appearing everywhere.   Try the local playground for the most accessible options.  I have some gymnastic rings hanging in the garage, so I don’t have to travel or worry about the weather to get my hang time in.  Most importantly is to stretch safely and within your capacity.  A good stretch should feel relaxing and relieving, never painful.  Pay attention to yourself, and if this stretch suites you, incorporate it into your self-care repertoire.  Enjoy!

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