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How to Loosen Stiff Shoulders with a Yoga-with-Weights Stretch

For desk dwellers, truck drivers, and rehabbers alike, the following stretching yoga-with-weights exercise is designed to relieve discomfort in your shoulders and increase your shoulders’ range of motion so your muscles can loosen up.

Stiff and sore shoulders are common because so many people carry stress in their shoulders. Your shoulders can become stiff from lack of movement and chronic tension that builds over time. You probably see people who shrug all the time because they carry so much stress in their shoulders.

Tightness and pain in the shoulders are common because it’s so easy to slump your shoulders as you sit at a desk or drive your car, especially if you spend much time at these activities. The average person drives a car or sits in front of a computer for many hours each day.

If you’ve had a shoulder injury to your rotator cuff or shoulder girdle area, relaxing and loosening the muscles of your shoulders is especially difficult. Because you can’t move your shoulders as much as you used to, your shoulders get even stiffer. Over time, you may experience chronic pain because your shoulders have lost their range of motion.

Grab one hand weight and follow these steps:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor; hold the weight in both hands above your chest with your elbows bent.

    This is the starting position. Engage your abdominal muscles for support.

  2. Without turning your head, slowly move the weight to the right side of your body until your right elbow touches the floor.

    Feel the backside of your left shoulder — your trapezius muscle — loosening and opening up. A nice feeling, no?

    If you also have some discomfort in your neck, you can move your head to the side as you lower the weight and watch the weight as it moves toward the floor. This loosens the muscles on the sides of your neck. You can also loosen your neck muscles by turning your head in the opposite direction.

  3. Take four slow breaths in this position.

    Inhale to a count of four and exhale to a count of four when you take the breaths. Feel your shoulder muscles loosening.

  4. Move the weight back to the starting position.

Pause to rest, and then repeat this exercise by moving the weight to the left side of your body.

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