Shoulder Mobility: 7 Exercises that Improve it

Suffering from shoulder (including frozen shoulder) and upper back pain is a common symptom in our society which is dominated by technology. When your job requires you to spend long hours looking at a screen with your arms hunched forward to type, your body will eventually begin to suffer. 

Increasing mobility in your shoulders requires using a combination of dynamic and static stretches. You should also perform exercises to strengthen your stabilizing muscles. However, these routines should be balanced with frequent rest and regular visits to your physiotherapy clinic. Check out Shoulder Mobility: 7 Exercises that Improve it!

1. Triceps Kickbacks

Triceps kickbacks are an excellent way to strengthen the stabilizing muscles in your arms.

Weak triceps cause poor positioning of the scapula in your shoulder, which can reduce your range of motion and cause pain. Triceps kickbacks are excellent for targeting the back of your shoulder and upper back. 

Place one knee on a bench and grab a weight in the opposite hand. Swing the weight backwards in a controlled fashion until your arm is parallel with the ground. Because your triceps is a large muscle, you can try high repetitions with this exercise.

2. Foam Rolling

One of the best forms of therapy for stiff shoulders is using a foam roller. Running a foam roller down your back and shoulders is a great way to release tension that contributes to tight shoulders. 

When your back muscles (latissimus dorsi) are tight, you’ll find it challenging to have your full range of motion when lifting your arms above your head. Using a foam roller is an excellent way to release tension in this large muscle area, which will release tension in your shoulders. 

Start by placing the foam roller behind your armpit and slowly rocking back and forth on the roller. You can stop to focus on areas that feel noticeably tight.

3. Kettlebell Z Press

The Z press is a perfect exercise to help increase mobility in tight shoulders.

Using kettlebells or dumbbells, start from a seated position with your legs extended and both weights in your hands with your elbows at your side. Lift the weights above your head with your elbows flaring to the sides in the middle of the motion, ending with your arms straight in the air. 

The Z press is a great way to increase overall upper body strength, which will take pressure off your shoulders. The range of motion of the Z press will improve your scapular stability and increase your core strength, giving you more overall control of your body.

4. Yoga

Yoga is one of the best exercises that improve shoulder mobility and relieve pressure. When you consistently do yoga, you’ll find it easier to release tension in your body and undoubtedly extend the range of motion in your shoulders. 

Cat-cow is an example of a yoga position / posture or pose that will relieve tension in your upper back and shoulders.

Yoga includes a variety of dynamic and static stretches which will help release feelings of tightness in your shoulder. Many yoga poses require you to use your arms to hold your body above the ground, which helps strengthen your arms and shoulders. 

When you first start doing yoga, you’ll notice your body is too tight for most positions, but after a few sessions, you’ll feel the tension start melting away.

5. Standing Rows

Standing rows are an excellent exercise to strengthen your shoulders and upper back.

Find a secure place to attach a resistance band and assume standing position. Hold the band with your elbows bent at your sides and slowly start to pull your arms back until you engage your back muscles and shoulders.

Squeezing your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement will help you get the full benefits from standing rows.

6. Chest Stretches

Exercises that help stretch your chest muscles do a great job of releasing pressure from your shoulders.

The fly (or flye) machine is an example of an exercise that will work your chest while also creating a satisfying stretch. Strengthening your chest muscles will help increase your shoulders’ range of motion.

From a standing position, you can lift your chin and look towards the ceiling while holding a resistance band or towel behind your back with both hands. This chest expansion is a great way to prevent your chest muscles from pulling on, and rounding your shoulders forward into a ‘hunched’ pose

7. Lateral Raises

If you struggle with raising your arms over your head, lateral raises are a helpful technique to eliminate stiffness. All you need for this exercise is a resistance band held in both arms. You can secure the band by resting your feet on top. 

Starting in a seated position with your hands near your hips, lift both arms up in the air until your arms are slightly above a 90-degree angle. This is an excellent movement that will increase the range of motion in your shoulders while also strengthening your back.

Do you have stiff, frozen or painful shoulders? Which exercise solutions have you tried that work best for you? Let us know in the comments below, and join in the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram!

Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer Dawson is an experienced freelance writer who specializes in food and nutrition. Working in fitness marketing previously gave her a good feel for the industry and since going freelance she has been able to explore her preferred topic areas such as diet types, nutrition and food. Outside of work, Jen enjoys traveling, swimming and spending time with her young family.

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