Shoulder Strengthening and Stretching Exercises

Travel Talk

Gina John Gina John has worked in exercise and rehabilitation for over 20 years. A Pilates Practitioner and Registered Osteopath, she founded The Osprey Clinic, which specialises in exercise and rehabilitation programmes, for the over 50s and individuals requiring tailored fitness and rehabilitation.

Gina is pleased to offer Silver Travel Advisor members help and advice with a quarterly column, looking at how to prepare for travel and how to stay fit and mobile, while away from home. Also, Gina offers tips on how to deal with aches and pains while travelling, including a focus on seasonal travel problems.

Here in the UK, the evenings are closing in, so getting outdoors and making the most of some late summer sun whenever it shines feels like a high priority. The occasional threat of windy gusts and rain clouds are no deterrent to walks around lakes, heaths, parks and beaches, wherever the light and freshness can be enjoyed before winter sets in. It’s also an ideal time to consider some hill walking abroad. Taking in the Swiss or Austrian mountain air is an alluring option, as the clock ticks before the snow and the skiers take over the terrain.

While it’s difficult to predict a change in the weather, you can be well-prepared for a sudden downpour or a decline in temperature, by packing a rucksack with waterproofs, an extra sweater and even some thick socks! However, many people worry about the effects of carrying rucksacks on the shoulders and back.

A recipe of shoulder strengthening and stretching exercises will help to prepare you before your trip and ease any aches and pains after a day of hiking or rambling.

Shoulder strengthening

Dumb waiter exercise

Press up the wall Sit or stand with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and keep them tucked into your waist while you open out your forearms, as far as you can without arching your back. By tensing your abdominal muscles it will help to keep your back straight. Keep pressing your shoulders down while you repeatedly open and close your forearms. Repeat up to 20 times, twice daily.

Press up at the wall

Stand facing a wall with your arms straight and palms pressed against it. Slowly bend your elbows, inclining your body towards the wall and stretch your elbows to stand straight again. Keep tensing your abdominal muscles to support your back and press your shoulders down throughout the exercise. Repeat up to 20 times, twice daily.

Back of shoulder stretch

Take the right arm across your body, supporting it with the left hand. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, and repeat the stretch to the left arm. Repeat 2-3 times daily or whenever muscle tension occurs.

Front of shoulder stretch

Clasp your hands behind the body and pull back your arms until you feel a stretch across the chest, shoulders and arms. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times daily or whenever muscle tension occurs.

Dealing with aches & pains

Front of shoulder stretch Even with careful preparation for your holiday, lifting baggage and getting rucksacks on and off, however skilfully, may result in a few aches and pains. The neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists are particularly vulnerable to straining with these lifting movements. In the first 72 hours after a strain, avoid applying heat to the painful area. Rest and apply an ice pack or anti-inflammatory gel every 3-4 hours until any swelling subsides. It’s best to pack a tube of gel such as Ibuprofen Gel or Biofreeze, as these may be difficult or expensive to source, especially while away from home or abroad.

Move the joint within a pain free range and stretch the area gently. Try to avoid lifting until the area is pain free. Elbows and wrists can be bandaged until swelling reduces and a support can be worn during activities, until the area has healed fully.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Gina directly, at and she will endeavour to cover these questions in future columns.

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