How long has it been since you climbed a jungle gym or swung from the monkey bars? Hopefully, it was just yesterday or in the past week. Aside from it being a fun thing to do it can really have great benefits. Unfortunately for most people the only time they find themselves reaching overhead is when they are putting groceries away.

Countless hours are spent with arms drooping below shoulder height. They droop at the computer, the steering wheel, the dinner table, and when texting. Rarely do the arms find the necessity to reach to the degree to which they are capable. This can bring about some detrimental results: strength decreases, tight neck muscles, tension headaches, rotator cuff weakness, shoulder impingement, tendinitis, carpal tunnel issues, and a bunch more.

If the body does not experience hanging from the arms, then the soft tissue surrounding the shoulder complex never gets to truly lengthen and open up. The tissue remains passively shortened, and that shortened state becomes normalized. This means the range of motion at the shoulder and surrounding areas get altered, and compensation is a certainty. The potential for injury drastically increases especially during events when the tissue around the shoulder is needed to lengthen and it is unable to.

There is a simple solution: get yourself to a playground! Just kidding, don’t get too ahead of yourself. I don’t mean start swinging around from one arm, progress slowly. In fact, you can start at home and do not need to find a playground. Take one hand and slide it up a wall as far as you can without pain. Alternate arms and get your body to experience what it is like to really reach. Once that is comfortable try grabbing the top of an open door and let your body gently lower toward the floor. Support the weight of your body with your legs but keep your hand holding the top of the door. How does that feel around the neck and shoulders after you let go?

You may begin to feel less neck tension and an increase in overall strength. You could also begin to experience a sense of weightlessness and improved posture. Perhaps from there you can visit a playground and begin to hang with both arms from a chin-up bar or rings. After even more time you might be ready to have a race across the jungle gym against the neighborhood bully.