The general meanings of flexion and extension are as follows:
- Flexion: The bending of a joint or limb.
- Extension: Stretching or straightening out a flexed joint or limb.
While this is pretty simple to understand for most joints, it becomes a little problematic when looking at the shoulder. What are flexion and extension of a joint that doesn't bend?
In general, flexion and extension of the shoulder are taken to mean moving it through three planes - forward, to the side, and to the rear. The exercises are as follows:
Side Flexion: Start with hands by side, palms facing towards your leg. Using your shoulder muscles, slowly raise the arm to 90 degrees (hand level with shoulder), then relax down.
Front Flexion: Start with hands resting on the front of the thighs, palms facing towards your leg. Using your shoulder muscles, slowly raise the arm to 90 degrees (hand level with shoulder), then relax down.
Rear Extension: Stand upright, holding a stick in both hands behind your back. Lift the stick away from your back, pause, then slower lower back to the starting position.
There are almost endless varieties of these exercises - you can do them sitting or standing, with dumbbells, cable weights or resistance bands.
In each case aim to raise and lower slowly and under control, holding the end position for 5 seconds. Do 3 sets of 10.