A lack of shoulder mobility is usually the result of an injury or reduced range of motion for a prolonged period, which can result from another injury (such as a broken arm) or a sedentary lifestyle. (If you aren’t sure if you have normal shoulder mobility or not, read our guide on how to do a shoulder mobility test here.)
Fortunately, you can increase your shoulder mobility at home with some simple exercises we’ll share with you below. Working to increase the mobility of your shoulders will not only help to increase your range of motion, but it will also help to prevent additional discomfort in the neck and back.
Here are 5 of the best shoulder mobility exercises that you can start doing today to increase your range of motion and restore full shoulder mobility.
5 Top Shoulder Mobility Exercises
1. Standing Arm Swings
This is a basic exercise, but it is the perfect warmup exercise as it is easy for anyone to do and will help encourage more blood flow into the shoulder joint.
To do this exercise, simply stand up tall with your arms down by your sides. Swing your arms up in front of you, straight and with control, as high as you can reach. Lower your arms back to the starting position and repeat for between 30 and 60 seconds.
Make sure your back remains straight and you are raising and lowering your arms with control, rather than using momentum.
2. Double Shoulder Flexion
For this exercise, you will require a long stick, such as a broom handle or plastic pipe. Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, holding your stick in both hands parallel to the floor, palms turned downward. Your hands should be positioned slightly wider than shoulder width.
Slowly raise your ‘stick’ above your head, making sure that your arms remain straight. Hold there for a few seconds and then slowly return to the starting position.
3. L-Arm Stretch
This exercise is a little more difficult (so only do it when you’re ready, especially if you are recovering from a recent injury) but is a great way to stretch the back of the shoulder and increase mobility in the rotator cuff.
This exercise starts with you laying on your stomach with one arm reaching out in front of you. Your other arm then slides under the armpit, across the chest, with your palm facing up, so that your arms look like an ‘L’ from above. Readjust your body so that your chest is flat on the ground and hold that stretch for a few seconds. Repeat on the other side.
Make sure you avoid pulling your shoulder up toward your ear.
4. Over Your Head Stretch
You’re probably familiar with this exercise if you have done any kind of workout cool-down routine.
This can be done standing, kneeling, or sitting. Start with both arms by your sides. Reach one arm up over your head to touch the opposite shoulder blade, so your elbow points up to the sky. Reach far enough that you feel a good stretch through the shoulder, without bending at the waist. Move in and out of the stretch a few times and then hold for 15 to 30 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
5. Clasped Hands Extension
This is another exercise you may be familiar with, but it is a great way to both increase your range of motion and strengthen your back.
Start in a seated position, whatever feels most comfortable for you, whether that be crossed legs, kneeling, or legs out in front on the floor, or on a stool. Sitting tall, reach your arms around and clasp your hands together behind your back, straightening your elbows. Pull your arms up toward the ceiling as much as you can, squeezing the shoulder blades together for as long as you feel comfortable.
For best results, repeat all these exercises for 5 repetitions 3-5 times.
Regain Your Shoulder Mobility
Whether you are looking to get mobility back after an injury or simply want to increase your flexibility, these shoulder exercises are a great place to start, providing benefits not only to your shoulders but also to your back and neck.
If you want to take things further and learn more about bettering your shoulder joint health and how you can increase your joint health overall, our Joint Health 101 eBook is filled with exercises to increase mobility and strength for all major joints in the body. We cover rehab and how to prevent injuries from occurring or reoccurring and the nutrition side of joint health to help you feel your best.