I never thought I’d be able to touch my hands together behind my back (Happy Cow Arms in photo above). When I started out with any shoulder openers, it was a challenge to even put my hand behind my back. I could feel the whole front of my shoulder, chest, neck, and even my biceps being pulled. I knew if I didn’t do something about it, I would have some serious future injuries to deal with. You are only as strong as your weakest link, so I knew I had to get serious.
Here’s some yoga exercises below that have truly opened up my shoulders and some that have strengthened them in a different way, focusing more on my stabilizing muscles.
Note: Before going into any deep shoulder openers, you should warm up your shoulders first. Going through a sun salutation series (easy flow from downward dog to plank to pushups to upward dog and back to downward dog) will warm them up.
- Downward Dog – Hold pose & breathe at least 1 minute. Press through entire hand and let your head hang.
- One Arm Downward Dog – Work up to 1 minute (make sure hands aren’t slick or sweaty).
- Dolphin (bottom right in above photo) – open your chest as much as you can and relax your neck.
- Downward Dog Shoulder Press (top two in above photo) – Have hands wider than the yoga mat and palms can be flat on the ground.
- Reverse Prayer (bottom right in above photo) – I started by just grabbing my wrist.
- Prone Shoulder Opener (bottom left in photo above/video below) – move slowly and see video below.
This video below shows how slow you should go to get into position – hold the open position for at least 5-10 breaths before getting out of it. Only go as deep as your body allows and don’t go to the point of pain.
Trigger point therapy for rhomboids and traps (equipment: yoga block and two tennis balls)…
It’s been a long ride for me, but I’m finally seeing all this work paying off and you will too!