Three Natural Movements to Restore Tight, Stiff Shoulders and Neck

If you've ever gone to reach overhead and felt like "it shouldn't be this hard," or have dealt with nagging neck pain, you know how frustrating it can be.

If you have rounded shoulders, chronic neck tension or a tight upper back, these three shoulder exercises are going to be a game-changer for you.

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These are based on Controlled Articular Rotations from FRC. Which is a fancy way of saying, make smooth, controlled circles with your joints every day if you want them to work nice.

Here are my recommended doses and instruction:

  • Spend at least five minutes a day hanging
    • This should be accumulated! Not all at once. 30s here, 15s there throughout the day.
  • Practice the movements independently before trying to make circles.
    • Squeezing the shoulder blades together (retraction)
    • Pressing the shoulder blades apart (protraction)
    • Lifting the shoulders up to the ears (elevation)
    • Dropping the shoulders into your back pockets (depression)
  • Once you've mastered that, make big circles with your shoulder blades in these three positions
    • Hands and knees position - 3 smooth, slow repetitions in each direction
    • Hanging assisted with feet on the ground - 3 smooth, slow reps each direction
    • Paralettes or chairs - again, 3 smooth, controlled reps each direction

Do this for at least 30 days and see how your shoulders feel.

Too easy? Here's how to make them even harder:

  • Scapular circles from a push-up position
  • Scap circles from a dead hang (feet off the ground)
  • Scap circles on paralettes with feet off the ground, knees tucked to chest

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