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Three Ways to Open Tight Shoulders for Aerial Arts

We are keeping it simple this week and examining three stretches that can help release and open tight places in the shoulders. In aerial arts and pole, we work the entire shoulder girdle. We frequently talk about over-development and imbalances that can happen in certain places on pole dancers and aerialists. In this post, we just want to focus on a few stretches that can help increase increase range of motion and flexibility in the shoulder area. Here is a chart of the muscles in the shoulders. It's good to know what is being stretched and also what is being worked in pole and aerial.

Stretch for Range of Motion

Reverse Rotation Stretch

Use a band or a yoga strap, keep a bend in the elbows. Gently rotate the arms back behind the head and downward to the hips. Keep the hands as wide as you need, go for a feeling of mild discomfort while stretching, not pain. Try this rotation for 30 seconds to a minute, slowly rotating up and down. If you need more stretch, walk the hands toward each other on the band.

This stretch is a dynamic stretch that opens the delts, SITS, and all the muscles used in this form of rotation. Keep the movement slow and controlled and this can help with range of the motion in the shoulder area and the pecs.

Stretches for Opening

These two stretches are static stretches to help gain flexibility and opening in the shoulder area.

Behind the Back Stretch

The first stretch, used in yoga, can involve a strap or clasping the hands behind the back if you have the flexibility. Don’t be surprised if you don’t have th flexibility to grab hands or if only one side can connect. Aerial arts and pole tighten the chest and shoulders, which makes this stretch effective. Find the place where you feel the stretch in the top of the delts on the lower arm and the triceps in the higher arm. As you relax into the stretch, it will work into the SITS and deeper muscles of the shoulders, back and chest. Make sure your head is not being pushed to the side by your higher arm. Hold 30 seconds on each side.

Overhead Stretch The second stretch works with external rotation and abduction of the arms. Interlace the hands or clasp a wrist, if that feels ok, and externally rotate and lift the arms up overhead. BEND the ELBOWS and RELAX the shoulders down and away from the ears. Breath here for 30 seconds.

This stretch will open the chest, pec connectors into the shoulders and again get into the shoulder girdle muscles. Relax and enjoy.

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