Exercises for Opening the Shoulder, Neck, and Rotator Cuff

Stretching is an integral part of any healing for your pain.

Qi gong exercises are slow moving exercises and stretches that help to loosen up joints and get the circulation going in the area.

A Wooden Hinge Gets No Worms

There is a saying in Chinese medicine,  “A wooden hinge gets no worms.”  The idea is that a wooden door, cabinet, bench, or stump will get worms because it does not move.  It just sits there.  But a hinge moves all the time and prevents decay.  In other words, move it or loose it.

These are exercises which I have collected from many excellent teachers.  They should be performed slowly with smooth movements. You can read more about them in two excellent books: Xing Yi Nei Gong by Tim Cartmell and A Tooth from the Tiger’s Mouth by Tom Bisio.

Rotate your head

The head, neck, and shoulders are connected, pretty obvious.  The muscles of the shoulder are interconnected to these areas, and tightness in the neck will cause tightness in the shoulders, and vice versa.

Neck Stretch
Neck Stretch Right

Standing straight, feet shoulder width apart.  Slowly look to your right, and now slowly look to your left.  Don’t push it.  Don’t go farther than you naturally can turn your head.  Repeat 10 times.

Look Up and Down

Looking Up
Looking Down

Standing with relaxed shoulders, gentle look up. Do not push beyond your natural limit. Now, gently look down. Repeat 9 times.

Open the shoulder

Stand straight. With your right arm, grab under your left shoulder. Rotate your arm, at the shoulder in a big circle. First going forward 9 times, and then doing it in reverse, backwards ten times. Switch arms.

Opening the Shoulder
Opening the Shoulder

It is very simple. Open the joints, keep them moving, and you will feel better. Do these exercises a few times per week.  If you are very stiff, you can perform them slowly steadily, but do not push beyond your limits.  Gradually your body will loosen up.

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Joseph Alban, L.Ac.
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