If your shoulders are tight or you're recovering from an injury, there are specific shoulder mobility exercises that can be beneficial.
These movements may help increase shoulder mobility and flexibility, improve shoulder function, and prevent injury. Keep reading to learn more about strengthening exercises and shoulder stretches that can help boost your functional fitness.
Best Shoulder Mobility Exercises
To get ready for the following five exercises, do a few minutes of warm-up movements, like arm circles and arm swings. That will help the muscles warm up and get ready to work.
If you're recovering from a shoulder injury or surgery, ask a physical therapist for advice about which exercises are good for you. Let's get started:
1) Shoulder Pass-Through
The shoulder pass-through exercise helps increase shoulder joint mobility while also engaging the surrounding muscles of the shoulder.
To do this shoulder mobility exercise, you will need to hold onto a long stick, like a broomstick or PVC pipe.
How to do this move?
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold a broomstick in front of your body at arm's length.
- The arms should be wider than shoulder-width.
- Standing tall, engage your core, and slowly raise the broomstick or pipe above your head.
- After holding the position for a few seconds, return to the starting position.
- Repeat five times.
2) Arm Wing
This shoulder mobility exercise is a great way to warm up the shoulders and upper back. Doing it as part of a warmup routine before performing upper body exercises can help improve flexibility and range of motion in the shoulders.
How to do the exercise:
- Stand up tall, with your arms by your sides.
- Engage your core, and swing your arms forward as high as you can go.
- Don’t raise your shoulders.
- Return your arms to the starting position, and repeat the movement.
- Do that for 30-60 seconds.
3) Doorway Stretch
The doorway stretch is a great way to stretch the chest muscles, which can become tight from sitting at a desk all day. This easy-to-perform shoulder mobility exercise can help prevent injuries by improving the range of motion in the shoulders.
To do this exercise:
- Stand near a doorway, with your legs in a wide stance.
- Place your right palm on the inside of your right shoulder, forming a 90-degree angle between your arm and body.
- Gently press your right arm against the door frame. Only go as far as it's comfortable.
- Hold for up to 30 seconds.
- Perform two to three repetitions of the exercise on each side.
4) Child's Pose
The Child’s Pose is a great way to open the shoulders into forward bending and to stretch the latissimus dorsi (also known as the lats) muscles. This pose can also be considered as a shoulder mobility exercise.
To do the child's pose:
- Lie facedown on the floor, resting your forehead on your arms.
- Put your hands in front of you, and slowly crawl them forward till they're extended in front of you.
- Keep your gaze downward.
- Lower your torso onto your thighs, and place your forehead on the ground.
- Hold the position while taking three deep breaths, and repeat 3–5 times.
5) Chest Expansion
Shoulder mobility exercises, such as the chest expansion exercise, are a good way to stretch the back muscles, open the chest, and increase range of motion in the shoulders. They can also help expand the lungs so that you can receive oxygen better.
To do the exercise:
- Stand with your feet together, holding an exercise band or towel in each hand.
- Use the towel to pull your shoulder blades together, opening the chest.
- Look towards the ceiling, and hold for 30 seconds.
- Repeat 3–5 times.
Each shoulder stretch and shoulder mobility exercise depends on where you’re feeling tense and tight, so choose the ones that best address your current level of tightness.
As always, when you’re stretching or exercising, remember to take it slow. You need to do all movements slowly and deliberately. Hold each movement for 1-3 seconds at a time to get the most benefit.