SHOULDER STRENGTH ADDING RESILIENCE
Reaching for a bowl in the cupboard, carrying a watering can to the flowers or lifting your arms to give someone a hug — these motions and countless others are easy, pain-free actions when you have a healthy shoulder. However, shoulder injuries are very common in older adults. They can cause pain with movement or while sleeping, and can also cause shoulder stiffness and weakness. Pain or dysfunction can last weeks or months with appropriate care and therapy — and even longer without. Basic tasks of living can become more difficult, as can recreational activities such as playing tennis or golf.
Reduce your risk of developing a shoulder injury by:
■ Warming up your shoulder muscles and joints with gentle movement and stretching before using them for tasks such as yard work, lifting or manual labor, or before activities and sports.
■ Listen to your body when you feel even the slightest discomfort or pain and take time to figure out what caused the pain and how to avoid making things worse.
■ Find ways to make heavy shoulder work less strenuous, such as by carrying objects close to your body. The closer an object is to your center of gravity, the less strain will be placed on your shoulder. Ask for help when you need it.
In addition to these preventive tips, the shoulder exercises below done two to three times a week can help strengthen the muscles that support shoulder function and resiliency. Perform movements very gently and with light or no resistance to start. Do five to 10 repetitions of each movement. As you gradually improve, you may be able to add additional repetitions or use a slightly stronger band. Ideally, try to work toward two or three sets of 10 to 12 repetitions for these exercises.
Consider learning how to do these exercises with a physical therapist or fitness professional. Proper technique is very important.
Double arm row
■ Secure a resistance band to a solid object and stand facing the elastic band.
■ Grasp the band with your arms in front of you and your thumbs upward.
■ Pull the band by bending your elbows to your sides.
■ Draw your shoulder blades toward your spine as you bend your elbows.
■ Avoid shrugging your shoulders or jutting your head forward.
■ Slowly return to the starting position.
External rotation of shoulder
■ Secure an elastic band to a solid object.
■ Put a folded towel under the arm you’re exercising. Your goal is to keep the towel there as you do this exercise.
■ Grasp the band with your thumb up and step away from the door to create slight tension in the band.
■ Rotate your hand out to the side while gently squeezing your shoulder blade toward your spine.
■ Slowly let your palm return to the starting position.
■ Repeat on the opposite side.