How often do you think about all the things you use your shoulders for? There are so many basic activities that require shoulder flexibility that we don’t even consider: fastening and unfastening a bra, reaching up to that high shelf in your pantry, sweeping the front porch, leaning down to take our grandchild’s hand — the list is endless. Keeping your shoulders in good shape is an essential part of maintaining an independent lifestyle, which is why shoulder mobility exercises are so important.
Think you have to trek to the gym to do shoulder mobility exercises? Think again! One of the best things you can do to increase shoulder mobility can be accomplished right in the shower. Surprising, I know — but true! Read on to find out how to keep your shoulders healthy and flexible while you wash.
What Happens to Our Joints as We Age
As our bodies age, we lose bone mass, density, and flexibility. This is a common phenomenon due to our cartilage drying out and a decrease in the fluid that naturally cushions our joints, called synovial fluid. As our joints lose this fluid, they can rub together and cause cracking, pain, and inflammation. Our bodies’ natural healing response kicks in when this happens, often causing calcium deposits to form around the shoulder joint. This can result in tendonitis and other osteopathic issues.
If you’re like me, your joints crack in the morning and possibly throughout the day. The feeling of stiffness when you wake up, though annoying, is a normal result of the natural aging process. The good news is that there are numerous ways to keep your joints limber and healthy. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Keeping Joints Healthy
Here are a few simple things you can do that will help keep aging joints healthy:
- Regular exercise, including weight bearing exercise and cardio
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Choosing water over soda or sugary juices that can cause inflammation
- Don’t smoke
- Practice some simple yoga
- Take a calcium supplement
- Strengthen your core (it helps with posture!)
3 Daily Shoulder Mobility Stretches (Plus One for the Shower!)
We can maintain shoulder mobility by making smart lifestyle choices. But there are also specific shoulder stretching exercises we can do each and every day to ensure our shoulders stay healthy and pain-free. Standing shoulder rolls, shoulder extensions, and bicep/chest wall stretches are all good exercises to integrate into your daily routine, but the one add-on we suggest is something you can do in your morning or evening shower! Here’s how:
- Take your right arm and reach it up to the ceiling. Bend your elbow and reach over your right shoulder as far down as you can to gently scrub the area with soap or a washcloth.
- Aim for the very middle of your back.
- Lift arm straight up once more and lower it to your side.
- Bend your elbow again, this time placing your hand on your lower back and scrubbing upwards.
- Repeat steps 1-4 on your left side.
Aging can be hard sometimes, but if we take good care of ourselves, we can make the journey beautiful — and squeaky clean, too!