8 Game Changing Shoulder Stretches For Boxers
Stretching your muscles daily aids in mobility, alleviates muscle pain, and promotes blood circulation. A 10-15 minute stretch routine can also help prevent injury when gearing up for a strenuous workout. A boxing regimen can help you burn calories, build strength, and reach your fitness goals – but first you must learn how to stretch your muscles properly before starting your workout.
Why Is Stretching Important?
Stretching can be a huge stress reliever, not only for your muscles but also for your mind. Deep breathing and allowing your muscles to move freely are two main aspects of stretching. Stretching isn’t about over extending or hurting yourself in order to gain flexibility – instead you should listen to your body and push yourself into deeper stretches over time for long-lasting flexibility.
Having increased flexibility can also decrease your risk of injury during a workout or during active sports, according to the Mayo Clinic. Research shows that when muscles have a greater range of motion, the body is less apt to sprains, muscle tears, and unnecessary injuries. A stretch routine can be quick, painless, and a great benefit to all athletes, especially boxers.
Quick Shoulder Stretch Routine for Boxers
You use your arms and shoulders when hitting the heavy bag and when shadowboxing. If you aren’t stretching the main and connecting muscles, especially before your boxing workout, you might find yourself a little sore and stiff the next day – which can limit your mobility. Get started by adding these shoulder stretches and mobility exercises into your routine to warm up your body before you start punching!
Arm Circles (60 seconds each direction)
- From standing, raise your arms straight out to your sides, parallel to the ground
- Start to make large circles with your arms in a forward motion
- Continue for 60 seconds and then switch directions and repeat
You may hear some popping and feel a little tense in your shoulders when starting, but you will begin to loosen up as you continue this shoulder and chest opening movement.
Head Rolls (30 seconds each direction)
Many boxing drills use the trapezius muscles which extend from the edge of your shoulder cap to the bottom of your skull and connect to the muscles in your neck region. Before a boxing workout, it is important to stretch your neck with some simple head rolls. You’ll not only feel this stretch in your neck but also in your spine and upper back when you draw your head down to your chest.
- Start by slowly rolling your head in a circle in one direction for about 30 seconds
- This exercise is about relaxation and slowly gaining flexibility in your neck, not about speed, so go slowly to avoid injury
- After 30 seconds, switch directions and repeat
Cross Body Shoulder Stretch (30 seconds each side)
Your shoulders tend to take a bit of shock when striking a heavy bag or opponent. This stretch will help alleviate some of that tension because your trapezius and deltoid muscles will have more flexibility.
- Take your right arm and cross it over your body along your chest line
- Bend your left arm and draw your right arm tight to your body, feeling the stretch in your right shoulder
- Hold for 30 seconds
- Switch arms and repeat
Forward Fold (30 seconds)
- From standing, place your hands on opposite elbows
- Slowly lean forward toward the floor, slightly bending your knees
- Relax your neck, shoulders, and back as you continue to bend down
- Take a few deep breaths and allow the blood to flow into your head
- Extend your elbows toward the ground to feel a deeper stretch in your shoulders and neck
- Hold for 30 seconds before slowly rolling back up to stand
Cow Face Pose
- Start on all fours and cross one knee in front of the other
- Lean forward and draw your inner thighs toward each other
- Spread your feet wider than your hips
- Sit your hips between your heels and press the tops of your feet into the floor
- Your feet should point toward the back of the mat
- Press down through your sits bones, lift both sides of your waist, and draw your ribs down
- Lift the crown of your head towards the ceiling and keep your chin parallel to the floor
- Release your shoulders down your back
- Lift one arm overhead, bend at your elbow, and lower your hand so it rests between your shoulder blades
- Bring your opposite arm behind you and spin your palm to face the back of the room
- Bend at your elbow and reach for your top hand
- Grasp your fingers and hold
- Press the back of your head into your top forearm and elbow as your shoulder moves back and down
- Keep your gaze ahead and hold for 15-30 seconds
- Repeat on the other side
Modifications: If you have hip, knee, or lower back pain, place a yoga block or folded blanket under the sits bones for support and lift. If you have tight shoulders, you may use a strap or hand towel between your hands if you are unable to connect your fingers.
Chest Expansion (30 seconds)
- Take a yoga band or a hand towel and hold both ends behind your back
- Raise and lower the band to open up your chest and shoulders
- You can get a deeper stretch by leaning toward the ground and raising the band toward the sky
- Remember to take deep breaths and continue for 30 seconds
Downward Facing Dog and Child’s Pose
These poses will stretch your shoulders and your entire back. You can alternate flowing between downward facing dog and child’s pose for additional muscle relaxation.
- Begin on your hands and knees
- Tuck your toes and lift your hips
- Place your feet hip-width apart or wider with your toes pointed straight ahead
- As your heels descend to the floor, work your legs toward straight, press your thighs back, and engage your quadriceps
- If your spine starts to round, keep a slight bend in your knees
- Lift your sits bones toward the sky and lengthen your back and sides
- Your hands should be shoulder-distance apart with your index fingers pointing straight ahead and your fingers spread out wide
- Press down through the base of your thumb and index finger, reducing any weight in your wrists
- Straighten your arms, draw your forearms in, and lift away from the mat
- Rotate your upper arms out and slide your shoulders down your back
- Keep your neck long and align your ears between your upper arms
- Gaze toward your belly button
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears, press your hips up and back, and keep your back from rounding
- Continue to breathe and hold for 20 seconds
To transition into child's pose:
- From Downward Facing Dog, lower your knees to the floor and slide your hands forward
- Bring your big toes together and spread your knees out wider than your torso
- Fold forward from the crease of your hips and place your forehead on the floor
- Place your arms by your sides or extend them out forward with your palms facing down
- Drop your hips back toward your heels
- Close your eyes and continue to inhale and exhale deeply
- Hold this pose for as long as you’d like
Gaining Flexibility and Relieving Muscle Tension
Your hands, arms and shoulders are some of the core parts and muscle groups used when boxing so properly stretching these areas before or after a workout is crucial to minimizing injury. This routine is a quick and easy way to gain flexibility and relieve any tension in the neck and shoulder muscles.
Will boxing hurt my shoulders?
Because boxing movements are heavily focused on the arms, hands, and shoulders you’ll likely be feeling the burn while boxing. You might have some pain initially but it’s unlikely you will actually hurt or damage your shoulders when starting an at-home boxing routine. Just like any new workout regimen, it’s common to feel some aches and pains in muscles you aren’t used to using.
How long should I stretch my shoulders before boxing?
A good 10-15 minute stretch pre-workout is always recommended, especially before boxing. It’s important to adequately stretch the parts of your body that you will be using, like the shoulders. You should also consider a cool down stretch routine post-workout to ease the muscle tension and relax the mind.
Will I gain shoulder strength from boxing?
Absolutely! Your boxing stance and boxing strikes require most of your arm and shoulder muscles. Coupled with this quick boxing stretch routine, your shoulders will begin to feel stronger and more flexible over time.
Whether you are preparing for a fight or boxing for the workout benefits, taking care of your body is crucial. Stretching may seem like an easy step to skip, but it is one of the most important parts of your training. For more stretching routines, warm-up and cool down sequences visit the FightCamp YouTube Channel and blog.
Six (6) Dynamic and Static At-Home Boxing Stretches
5-Minute Dynamic Warm-Up Routine
9 BEST Upper Body Mobility Stretches For Peak Performance
How Many Calories Do You Burn Boxing?: A FightCamp Case Study
8-Minute Cool Down Static Stretching Routine For Boxing
The Author: Lindsey Rudy has always been involved in the sports community. Her family operated a boxing facility in Detroit, MI. She has owned a Greco Roman wrestling gym and was heavily involved in competitive fitness for several years. Her love for an active way of life inspired her to earn her culinary arts degree with an emphasis on nutrition and health-conscious cooking. Currently, Lindsey takes her knowledge from the kitchen and her sporting background and shares it with her community both in-person and online.