Slouch Busting Shoulder Mobility Workout
With so many of us spending our days in front of computers and our nights locked in our phones, tight shoulders are something that nearly everyone has had to deal with at least once. Adding mobility training to your fitness routine can help ease the tension in your shoulders and set you up for better posture and less pain in the future.
We’ve put together a set of easy shoulder mobility exercises specifically targeted to help increase the range of motion in your shoulder joint, build strength in your shoulder muscles, and reduce shoulder pain in muscles and joints.
Stretching your shoulders should be a standard part of your upper body stretching routine, but, to improve shoulder mobility, additional stretches should be practiced to ensure that all parts of the shoulder are being properly addressed in your stretches.
Many of these stretches may already be familiar to you, meaning you may have your own variation of how you do the stretch. As long as you are maintaining proper form through your variation and feeling the stretch where you should, adapting a stretch or exercise to your own body and needs is always a smart idea.
Feel free to add these stretches in at the start, end, or in between the strengthening exercises that we’ll explore in the next section.
Cross Arm Stretch
The cross arm stretch is likely already part of your pre-workout stretching routine, but a more dedicated and mindful practice of this stretch can be a beneficial addition to your shoulder mobility workout.
There’s not much in the way of variation on this stretch other than being done from either a standing or seated position. The main thing to keep in mind with this stretch is that the shoulder you are stretching should not pull forward with the rest of the arm. Your shoulder blades should be down and back in their normal position creating tension through both the side and top of the shoulder.
Doorway stretches are a great way to stretch the often difficult-to-reach front of the shoulder as well as the connected aspects of your upper chest.
The instructions for this exercise have your arm bent at a 90-degree angle for a more intense front stretch. You can also repeat this exercise with your arm out straight, though be careful not to pull through your locked elbow, to target a little more of the side of the front of the shoulder.
Kneeling Arm Raise Side Reach
A side stretch may not seem to have much to do with the shoulder, but this single-arm stretch, done from a kneeling position to keep the stretch in the torso and out of the knees, targets the deep shoulder muscles found under the shoulder blades that attach down into your lower back as well as your lats stretching all the way down to your hips.
You can do a side stretch from a standing position if you do your best to keep the stretch in your torso and don’t lean with your legs, but seated is a more preferable alternative for this particular stretch.
Child's Pose with Variations
If you’ve ever done any kind of yoga, you already know child’s pose. It is one of the most essential poses for any yoga practice as it is the go-to resting pose and the ultimate swap-out move that can be used anytime you need a break or feel unsteady in a new or advanced pose.
Even though this pose is considered a rest pose, that doesn’t mean it isn’t doing something. In fact, child’s pose is an excellent position to stretch a range of areas in the shoulders through a series of small and simple variations we have included below.
Shoulder Mobility Exercises
While stretching helps to improve your flexibility and can certainly provide some pain relief in the moment, strengthening your muscles is the only way to truly improve your posture, flexibility, and mobility.
As much as we need our muscles to be able to lengthen, we also need them to be able to snap back, and that’s where strengthening comes in.
IYTLs are a great exercise to start off your shoulder mobility workout. Each letter represents one phase of movement during the exercise where, much like doing the YMCA, you use your arms to form the shapes of the letters “I”, “Y”, “T”, and “L”.
You can do this exercise either seated or standing, just make sure that you keep your back straight and your head up as you move through the phases of movement. Start out with no weights at first to get a feel for the correct posture of each movement then gradually add small amounts of weight. Remember, it’s about the full range of motion, not how much you can lift.
Wall angels are somewhere between a stretch and an exercise which makes them an excellent movement to follow the IYTLs.
You can do wall angels standing or seated against a wall or even laying on the floor if you don’t have a blank wall to use. The most important part of this exercise is to keep all your points of contact with the wall or floor as you move through the motion.
Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) are mobility-specific exercises that target often undertrained or overstrained areas that can cause problems for mobility in daily life. For the shoulder, the primary suspect is often the rotator cuff.
The rotator cuff is the name for the group of muscles and tendons that connect your arm to your shoulder and hold the head of the humerus in the shoulder joint. Adding shoulder CARs into your mobility workout will help to strengthen the muscles of the rotator cuff and the shoulder as a whole.
Bent-Arm Shoulder Rotations
This final exercise is one of the most essential and beneficial movements you can practice to improve your shoulder mobility. It also works to build strength throughout the rotator cuff as well as the connected muscles in the arm.
You can do this exercise standing or seated. The main things to keep in mind are to not lean back, draw the elbow back, nor change the angle or height of the elbow. Have a gym partner place their hands under your elbows at first to get a feel for the form.
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