Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Exercise of the Month: Arm Circles

The body needs a variety of exercise to stay healthy. Strength training for the muscles and cardio for the heart and lungs are the most popular. Your body needs range of motion exercises as well to keep your joints and connective tissue flexible. This month’s featured exercise is for your shoulders.

Arm Circles
Caution: Watch the tendency to turn this into a strength or bigger-is-better exercise. The purpose is to move within your absolutely and completely pain-free, symptom-free range.

1. Start with your right arm. Moving your hand away from and then a little behind your torso, make easy circles with your arm, pivoting at the shoulder joint.

2. Slowly make the circles bigger, gradually growing to as far in front, over
the shoulder, and behind you as you can with absolutely no pain, twinges or tingling in your hand, arm, shoulder, or neck.

3. If your shoulder clunks, slow down and change the motion to avoid the noise. I think it helps to rotate the arm as you circle it, so your thumb points up as your arm moves up, thumb points back as your arm moves back, and thumb points down as it circles to your side.

4. Repeat with the other arm.

This is first and foremost an awareness exercise, learning to stay in your injury-free range. It also improves motion within the joint and the condition of your rotator cuff. Think of it like distributing oil through a hinge, each round getting a little smoother. The intention is to do just enough “reps” to loosen the range of motion a little, so the next time (maybe the next day?) you try it, the circles will be a little larger. If your shoulder tightens, you’ve done too many or the circles were too big.

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