Ever encountered a shoulder pain after weightlifting or lifting your arm up to clean that top shelve? Most would brush it off as a common problem and hope the pain would go away, but it hardly does. Worse, it could develop into a serious problem.
The Cause? Biceps Tendinitis!
You might be moaning at the extremely scientific sounding name, but it is essential to know what’s causing that pesky pain you’re experiencing in your shoulder all the time! The Biceps tendon is a muscle in your shoulder but specifically, it is the tendon that connects your “big guns” to your shoulder bones.
It Can Get Worse And It Will Get Worse
Biceps Tendinitis is the inflammation of the tendon due to years of heavy lifting, or countless overhead motions that we do when we swim, take a swing of the baseball bat, or serving the tennis ball. Untreated, Biceps Tendinitis can develop into your worst nightmares such as arthritis in your shoulders leading to a frozen shoulder and shoulder pain, tears in your shoulder joints and even dislocation!
Don’t Worry. These 7 Exercises Will Get You Through This
What these 8 exercises can help you to achieve here is overall strength for weak shoulder muscles and if you are a heavy lifter, it is advisable to stay away from lifting unbearably heavy weights for the time being.
1. Hands Against The Wall
This exercise can help to strengthen the back as well as both the biceps and triceps muscles. Most importantly, the holding position can help you build endurance.
Step One: Straighten your neck and back and place your hands on wall.
Step Two: Now bend your elbows and bring yourself towards the wall with your back straightened. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
Step Three: Bring yourself back up to your straightened elbow position.
2. Shoulder Shrugs
Shoulder shrugs are one of the best exercises to give flexibility and endurance to your shoulder muscles and there’s no risk of straining them under any weight.
Step One: Stand straight.
Step Two: Elevate both shoulders towards your ears and hold the position for five seconds. Do this for about 10 times a day.
3. Shoulder Squeeze
This is another non-strenuous exercise which you can do everyday to help build flexibility and stability in the shoulders.
Step One: Just pretend you’re a bear and get into the stance.
Step Two: With your chin tucked in, squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Step Three: Hold position for 5 seconds. Repeat the exercise for 10 times.
4. Hand Behind Neck
You should always stretch an injured muscle that is caused by repetitive motion and wear and tear, however, you shouldn’t stretch an injury caused by blunt trauma. This hand behind the neck exercise gives you a great stretch for your shoulders.
Step One: Put hands behind neck.
Step Two: Raise elbow high above shoulder line. Repeat for about 10 times each morning.
5. Lateral Raise
By giving your shoulders a new range of motions each day, you’ll be able to strengthen them and feel the difference within weeks. Try out the lateral raise to add new motions for your shoulders.
Step One: Legs should be shoulder width apart.
Step Two: Raise both hands with fists closed, to shoulder level. Do not go beyond the shoulder level.
Step Three: Hold position for a second and slowly lower hands. Do this 10 times a day.
6. Prone Horizontal Abduction
This stretch exercise is so simple to do, you can do it just about everytime you wake up or before you go to bed.
Step One: On your bed, let your weak shoulder hang off the bed.
Step Two: Slowly raise your arm to your shoulder height. Never raise it above shoulder height.
Step Three: Slowly lower your arm down. Do it 10 times.
7. Static Rotator Cut Off Contraction
This exercise is a simple one with the resistance of the other hand. This is to restore mobility and flexibility to your injured shoulder.
Step One: Stand straight up.
Step Two: Keep the elbow of your weak shoulder at 90 degrees.
Step Three: Using the other hand, grasp the wrist of the arm at 90 degrees.
Step Four: Push the weak shoulder outward from body.
Step Five: Hold position for 5 seconds. Do 10 times for each arm.
When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory. While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.
Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.
Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain. The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.
How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine
Think about your current workouts:
If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.
In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.
A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.
A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.
Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.
Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.
Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio
Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.” In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”
This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.
Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles, and therefore our workout.
Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.
The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.
Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:
Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.
Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.
The Best Thing About Flow Yoga
The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.
Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:
Meet Strong Stan
Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.
While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.
While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries, because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.
Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.
Meet Flexible Fiona
Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend. She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.
Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.
To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.
Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.
It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.
Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.
Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.
What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.
In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.
In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.
So what can you do? It’s quite simple.
You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.
If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.
If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.
Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.
If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.
Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.
Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.
With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.