Elliptical equipment and rowing machines are cardio exercises that specifically target the shoulder area. Diving straight into these exercises could cause strain to the muscles and joints in your shoulders, leading to a serious injury. Luckily, you can perform a series of stretches that target the shoulders in particular during your warm up routine. Here are three stretches that will definitely prepare your shoulders before each intense cardio session.
Wake up your shoulder muscles with some gentle circular motions. To perform this exercise, you bring your shoulders up and back to ear level before pushing forward and back down to neutral position, and then in reverse. You can perform this maneuver with both shoulders at the same time or one at a time, if you prefer. Make sure to move slow enough to feel your trapezius, deltoid and rhomboideus muscles tense and loosen back up. Perform fifteen circles one way, and then reverse directions for fifteen more. Do at least two reps to warm up and one to cool down.
The chest cross stretches all of the muscles in your neck, shoulder, chest and back at the same time. To perform this stretch, pull your right arm straight across your chest and hold it in place with your left arm. Hold this stretch for at least fifteen seconds before switching to the other arm. Once you’re finished, you should feel relaxed throughout your neck, shoulders and arms. Repeat this set of stretches two to three times during your warm up routine and once or twice for the cool down.
You can use resistance bands to gently warm up your muscles without a hint of strain. Tie one end of the resistance band to a doorknob and stand two to three feet away holding the other end. Face the door straight on and hold the band in tightly in one fist. Pull the band backward six inches or so to stretch the muscles at the front of your shoulder. Repeat this motion ten to fifteen times per arm. Afterward, turn to the side and hold the band in the arm furthest from the doorknob. Pull the band outward until you feel the muscles in your shoulder stretch tight. Switch sides and repeat .
Warm Up and Cool Down
Take the time to warm up for five to ten minutes before each workout. Although this might cut into your scheduled exercise session, you’ll notice an ability to push yourself harder and faster during the cardio routine. As a result, you’ll likely burn just as many calories as you did during longer sessions without the prior warm up.
You can further decrease the chance of injury by performing the same set of stretches after you finish your cardio workout. The cool down stretches do not have to take as long, so about three to five minutes is usually adequate. Listen to your body to determine how long to spend stretching your shoulders. You can also add full body stretches to the warm up to protect the rest of your muscles and joints from injury.