Shoulder mobility is super important for everyday life. From grabbing a plate from the top shelf of your cupboard, to pulling your dress zipper closed and lifting your kids, good shoulder mobility keeps these tasks easy and pain free. If you want to build strength and mobility in your shoulders, there are certain exercises that will help you do that, along with preventing tightness and injury. Check out 8 shoulder mobility exercises to reduce pain and improve your range of motion.
What Are ‘Mobility Exercises’?
Mobility exercises are exercises that increase flexibility in the joints and allow them to reach their full range of motion. They control muscles surrounding each joint and help you move more actively. Mobility exercises include flexibility, as well as balance and strength training.
Doing mobility exercises is essential not only for ease of everyday movements, but also for peak athletic performance. If you want to run faster, jump higher or lift weights more efficiently, you need mobility training in your life. It also decreases your risk of injury as mobility exercises prevent your muscles from becoming tight and immobile. And if a certain part of your body has less mobility, you may overcompensate when using other muscles and joints, leading to injury.
Good mobility means that your range of motion is smooth and pain-free. If your mobility is good, you can perform virtually any exercise with better form. As you get older and gain more weight, mobility starts to fade, but as long as you keep up with mobility exercises, you should be good to go!
3 Shoulder Mobility Exercise Equipment Essentials
8 Shoulder Mobility Exercises to Improve Range of Motion
1. Standing Arm Swings
This is a great warm up exercise that helps increase blood flow to the shoulder joint. Do it before performing any type of upper body workout to improve mobility and flexibility in your shoulders and upper back. Stand tall with your arms by your sides, engage your core and swing your arms forward until they’re as high as you can go (make sure not to raise your shoulders). Return your arms to starting position and repeat, continuing this movement for 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Dumbbell Shoulder Press
This dumbbell press will boost your strength and improve your range of motion. You can stand or sit to do this exercise, but make sure your back is straight and tall. Hold a dumbbell in each hand at shoulder height (your arms should look like a goal post, with your elbows at a 90 degree angle). Extend through your elbows and lift the weights overhead. Slowly return to starting position and do 10 to 15 reps.
3. High to Low Rows
High to low rows challenge your upper back and thoracic muscles, which provide stability to the shoulder joint. Place a resistance band around a sturdy object, making sure it hits above shoulder height. Kneel down on one knee and grab the band with your opposite hand. Leave the other hand by your side. Pull the band toward your body, keeping your torso straight. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return to starting position and repeat 10 times. Do 2 to 3 sets on each side.
4. Shoulder Pendulum Swing
This is an effective shoulder exercise that will increase your range of motion and give you a smoother flow of motion. Support your right arm on a stable table or chair, letting your left arm relax and hang down with a dumbbell in your hand. Gently start to swing your left arm, creating small circles and gradually making the circles bigger. Reverse the direction after 1 minute and repeat for a total of 4 to 6 minutes on each arm.
5. Standing Row
This exercise can improve strength in your traps, rhomboids and biceps. Stand up tall with your legs hip-width apart and grasp a dumbbell in each hand. Place your hands in line with your thighs- the weights should be hanging in front of you with your arms straight down and your palms facing your body. Lift the weights straight up toward your chin and exhale. Pause for a moment and return to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps and 2 to 3 sets.
6. Reverse Fly
The reverse fly targets the upper back and thoracic muscles that provide stability to the shoulder joint. Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your knees slightly bent. Engage your core and bend forward at the waist. Keep your back straight with your arms extended down. Raise your arms away from your body, focusing on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stop at shoulder height and slowly return to starting position and repeat. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
7. Doorway Stretch
If one or both of your shoulders is tight, this is a great stretch to do to increase your range of motion. Stand in a doorway with one foot slightly in front of the other. Bend your right arm at a 90 degree angle, bringing it up to shoulder height. Place your right palm and forearm against the door frame and gently lean into the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Repeat 2 to 3 times on each side.
8. Thoracic Extension on a Foam Roller
Although this exercise doesn’t directly target your shoulders, it improves thoracic spine movement, which impacts shoulder position and mobility. Place a foam roller just beneath your shoulder blades (it should be perpendicular to your body). Lie face up with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place both hands behind your head with your elbows pointing out to the sides. Slowly extend your upper back over the foam roller and towards the floor as far as is comfortable. Pause for a moment then slowly return to starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times, and do 2 to 3 sets.
Shoulder mobility is super important and will help improve everyday days as well as your fitness performance. Do these exercises on the regular to enhance your range of motion.
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