5 Exercises & Stretches To Help Open Up Your Shoulders
After spending the entire day hovering over your computer or cellphone, your shoulders are probably begging for a bit of relief. Good news: One way to help reverse the effects of all of those tech habits, like tightness and pain, is to incorporate more shoulder-opening moves into your daily routine. That's why I've created a number of effective and feel-good shoulder stretches and exercises for B The Method, a fitness method I founded.
Below, I've put together five of my favorite shoulder-opening moves that I regularly recommend to clients (including mbg co-founder and co-CEO Colleen Wachob). For all of these moves, remember to rotate the inside of your elbows to face forward to drop your shoulders away from your ears and soften the neck. Also, lift up from your low abdominals and pelvic floor to ease up pressure on the shoulders. I recommend doing these in-between ab work and lower body work for maximum stretch.
I also think it is super important to open up the shoulders right now because we are all feeling so much stress and anxiety being confined in our homes, and desperately need a release. Plus, since many of these shoulder-opening moves are full-body exercises, they connect to other muscles needed to keep your posture straight and spine healthy.
You can easily do all of these beneficial stretches and exercises at home—all you need is a yoga mat and a Pilates ball. Now, it's time to show those shoulders a bit of love.
Equipment: Pilates ball, yoga mat
Directions: Move from one exercise to the next, resting as needed. Complete the indicated number of sets and reps, until you've completed all moves.
How to: Start by kneeling on your mat. Hinge at your hips and bend forward slightly. Keeping your core tight and torso still, extend your arms out in front of your body. With control, circle them to the sides of your body, then behind you—like you're swimming. That's one rep. Complete 3 sets of 5 reps.
How to: Start by kneeling on your mat, with your hands at your sides. Hinge at your hips, and bring your butt down toward your heels. At the same time, extend your arms upward and in front of your body. Reverse the movement, bringing your arms slightly behind you as you thrust your hips forward slightly. That's one rep. Complete 3 sets of 5 reps.
Hip thruster with ball
How to: Start in a reverse tabletop position, with your palms down and fingertips facing your feet. Place a Pilates ball in between your knees. With control, slowly lower your butt until it nearly touches the ground. Reverse the movement and return to start, pressing your chest upward and stretching your shoulders at the end. That's one rep. Complete 3 sets of 5 reps.
Reverse extension with ball
How to: Start by sitting on the ground, with your legs extended in front of you on the mat. Place a Pilates ball about 1 foot behind your torso, and place both palms on top, fingertips facing away from you. With control, slowly lower down, pressing the ball a few inches backward. Return to start. That's one rep. Complete 3 sets of 5 reps.
Restorative back stretch
How to: Place a Pilates ball underneath your upper back—the bottom of the ball should be approximately at your bra line. Lie backward, draping your upper body over the ball, arms extended, palms facing upward. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute.
Lia Bartha is a certified classically trained Pilates Instructor of over 10 years, based in New York City. Born in Hawaii with scoliosis, she was introduced to Pilates while working a corporate that took a major toll on her back. It didn't take long for her entire perspective on fitness to change forever, thanks to private Pilates instruction. And two kids later, she also started to understand the need for functional strength and a strong pelvic floor.
Bartha realized exercising needed to be more than just how it made you look on the outside. It needed to be meditative and releasing, while also lengthening and toning the body. She created and developed B The Method to help people look a little deeper inside themselves, mentally and physically, and tap into a deeper layer of the body to strengthen and lengthen, starting from the inside.