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Shoulder and Spinal Stretching Session

If I was limited to doing one exercise daily, I would choose a fully body stretch via the shoulder and spinal stretching routine shown above.

Even if you cannot support your full body weight from an overhead object, you can still create a long-axis stretch through your entire kinetic chain with your feet on the ground as you gently move and rotate your body in various directions while you hang from one or both arms.

The stretch and improved blood flow will primarily be felt through the wrists, elbows, shoulders, and spine, but any type of hanging with partial or full body weight will improve the health of your hips, knees, and ankles because subtle long axis distraction of these weight-bearing joints encourages improved blood, lymph, and synovial fluid flow in and around the joint tissues.

Hanging with partial or full body weight is also a highly effective way of improving and maintaining grip strength, which is a top predictive marker for longevity.

If you don't belong to a gym and don't have a hanging bar at home, you can stretch from monkey bars at a local playground. Or if you have a workout place at home and wish to install gym rings, to do so is a relatively simple task for a handy person - you just have to ensure that your anchor points are securely fastened to solid studs. Some links to gym rings, anchors, and hanging bars for those who wish to look into doing this:

Gym rings:

In Canada:


In Canada:

Doorway chin-up bar:

Foldable free-standing yoga hanging stand (the one I use) (Amazon Canada):

Narration to Video:

With your feet on the ground, hang from a solid overhead anchor to any degree that allows for a comfortable stretch through your shoulder region. Gently move in various directions to target different tissues throughout your shoulder, upper back, and upper arm.

Hang from both arms - if you can't take your feet off the ground to support your full body weight, it's fine to keep one or both feet on the ground. Keep your core engaged as you stretch in this position, and if your feet are off the ground, gently rotate your lower body from side to side to accentuate the stretch in each shoulder.

Hang from one arm while anchoring the other arm on something solid, ideally while the downside arm is outstretched to the side. Aim to keep your core engaged through this stretch.

The next progression is to fully hang from one arm at a time, always with your core engaged, and if possible, with your arm drawn in against your shoulder socket.

Another progression is to do controlled pullups, core engaged, always lowering your body to a dead hang before pulling up again. You can always place your feet in a resistance band anchored above to assist you with pullups.

Finish your shoulder stretching session by hanging from both arms and gently swaying from side to side.


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