If you've got some issues with your shoulders, we've got some tips to improve shoulder mobility
If I asked you to name a body part that hurts right now, what would you say? For most people, it’d probably be some combination of their knees, hips, shoulders, or low back. (By the way, if you are saying yes, yes, and yes, all the above, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Mobility.)
Today, we want to focus on helping you improve your shoulder pain by addressing poor mobility. Shoulder pain is a reality for many people for various reasons, whether it's lack of strength, mobility, or even something more serious like a tear. Certainly, if you are feeling significant pain, seek professional help, but for most people, day-to-day shoulder pain and tightness can be helped by addressing a lack of strength and mobility.
These tips are designed to help you to begin to mobilize and strengthen your shoulders in ways you likely have not done before. Even if you aren’t in any sort of pain, strengthening and moving your shoulders is one of the most important things you can do for your long-term shoulder health. The shoulder joint takes on a lot; let's treat them with some TLC!
Be sure to take these exercises slowly, as it is more important that you be consistent than push too hard too quickly and potentially make things worse. You can perform these movements before or after a workout, or even on their own.
1. Tip for Shoulder Mobility: Elevated Elbows Stretch
Oftentimes, poor shoulder mobility is caused by tight lat muscles - the muscles that runs from right under your armpits to your low back. Especially if you have difficulty lifting your arms all the way overhead, you may have tight lats, and this stretch targets that specific area.
You don't need much to help stretch this area; in fact, if you have a PVC pipe or even a broomstick, either of them can be especially helpful. While you are on your knees, begin by grabbing the pipe with your hands about shoulder distance apart. From your knees, rest your elbows on a living room table, couch, or bench. Round your back and try to imagine you are driving your elbows to the ground. Hold for ten seconds and repeat five times. You can perform this stretch without a pipe or broomstick; however if possible use either one for a better stretch.
2. Tip for Shoulder Mobility: External Shoulder Rotation
When we think about working our shoulder muscles, we typically think about shoulder press or shoulder raises, but there are small muscles in the shoulder that typically get ignored. These muscles play a large part in your shoulders’ ability to move well.
Grab a small weight (a couple of pounds) if you have one. If not, a can of soup or beans will work just fine. While seated on the floor, take the weight in your right arm and rest your elbow against the inside of your right knee, with your hand almost on the floor. Try and use the muscles on the back of your shoulder to bring the weight above your knee and your fist pointed to the sky. Then, pause for one second and slowly return to the starting position. Repeat this anywhere from five to ten times for two to three sets on each side. You should feel the back of your shoulder working.
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3. Tip for Shoulder Mobility: Tabletop Stretch
Another common tight area that may be causing you shoulder pain is your chest. This stretch is great for your chest and front deltoid (or shoulder) muscles.
Begin seated with your heels close to your butt. Place your hands behind you with your fingertips pointed away from your body. Press through your heels and your hands, while squeezing your butt, until your head, chest, hips, and knees are all in a line. You should feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders and chest. Hold for two seconds and repeat five to ten times. Repeat this sequence two to three times. If you can’t get perfectly in line, it’s okay just continue working on it.
READ MORE: 5 Reasons Exercise Will Change Your Life
Now you are ready to start improving your shoulder mobility. Try out these exercises and let us know in the comments which one is your favorite. Be sure to check out our other mobility improvement guides for your hips (coming soon) and ankles (coming soon).
We are here for you and look forward to seeing your progress. It takes nutrition, exercise, mobility, and so much more to improve all areas of your health. Let us know what questions you have, and we would love to help. Here’s to crushing your 2023 health and fitness goals!