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Mobility Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Mobility Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Written By:
Expert Review By: Steven Cleark&

This Article Will Guide On:

  • Shoulder mobility exercises
  • Common shoulder mobility issues
  • Shoulder mobility exercises safety tips

Shoulder mobility exercises are specific exercises and stretches designed to boost the strength of the shoulders, fix shoulder tightness, and help recover from a shoulder injury. These exercises are known as shoulder mobility and flexibility exercises. These exercises help build strength, prevent injury, and improve shoulder function. These exercises are chosen due to their effectiveness in improving shoulder mobility and flexibility., the leading online health supplement store in the US, share the most effective mobility exercises for healthy shoulder, benefitting athletes, gym goers, individual who work a desk job and more.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

The shoulder consists of the acromioclavicular joint, where the scapula and clavicle meet, and the glenohumeral joint, where the glenoid and the humeral head meet. The humerus and the scapula are connected by the rotator cuff, which consists of the subscapularis, teres minor, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus muscles.

Difference Between Shoulder Mobility, Flexibility, and Stretching

Shoulder mobility refers to the ability of the shoulder joints to move through their full range, while shoulder flexibility is the ability of the shoulder muscles to lengthen. Shoulder stretching refers to any fixed or changing position that is designed to lengthen or warm-up the shoulder joints.

Shoulder Mobility Test

To check your shoulder strength take the shoulder mobility test to evaluate the mobility and flexibility of the shoulder joint. The test creates motion in three planes; abduction, external rotation, and shoulder flexion. 

Mobility Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Shoulder Blade: Scapular Push-Ups

Scapular push-ups are perfect for building shoulder strength and mobility. These exercises work the serratus anterior muscle, which is located on the left and right sides of the rib cage. These push-ups can also fix winged scapular.

To do a scapular push-up, begin in a standard push-up position, and ensure your back is in a straight line and your elbows are not bent. Slowly squeeze the shoulder blades together as you repeatedly move your upper body up and down.

🎥 Scapular Push-Up

Scapular Wall Slides

These exercises primarily warm up the upper body, especially the shoulder and the upper back.

To do a scapular wall slide, begin standing with your feet away from the wall. Your hands, elbows, and lower back should touch the wall. Exhale as you slide your hands up the wall and maintain a neutral spinal position until your elbows are locked. Return to the start position slowly and repeat.

🎥 Scapular Wall Slides

Rotator Cuff Mobility Exercises

Rotator Cuff Stretches

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles, precisely four muscles, that give the shoulder stability and allow it to move. Rotator cuff stretches are exercises that help fix rotator cuff injuries. The most common rotator cuff injuries include impingement and tear.

🎥 Shoulder Rotator Cuff Muscle Stretch

Internal and External Rotation Exercises

Shoulder rotations, internal and external, are essential to rotator cuff function. Shoulder rotations focus on the subscapularis, teres minor, infraspinatus, and supraspinatus. Internal shoulder rotation involves rotating the upper arm toward the front of the torso, while external shoulder rotation involves rotating the upper arm away from the front of the torso.

🎥 Strengthening Internal & External Shoulder Rotators - Ask Dr. Abelson

Sleeper Stretches

A sleeper stretch is an exercise designed to improve internal shoulder rotation. It focuses on the infraspinatus and the teres minor to improve shoulder stability. A sleeper stretch can also help develop flexibility and help prevent shoulder injury.

🎥 Shoulder Sleeper Stretch

Shoulder Joint Mobility Exercises

Shoulder Dislocates

Shoulder dislocates is a mobility drill that helps open up the shoulders to improve joint health. This exercise targets the rotator cuff muscles and also engages the deltoids. It involves the use of resistance bands, dowels, or PVC pipes.

🎥 Shoulder Dislocation Mobility Drill: Two Minutes To-Do

Arm Circles

Arm circles are a warm-up exercise that helps build tone in the shoulders, triceps, and biceps. To do an arm circle:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms parallel to the floor.
  2. Move your arms in a circle with small controlled motions, gradually increasing the circles until your triceps stretch.
  3. Move the circles in a reverse direction for about ten seconds.

🎥 Arm Circle (Lv 1)

Wall Angels

Wall angels are done with the back on the wall and are effective for extended upper-body resistance training. To do a wall angel;

  1. Stand with your feet 6-8 inches from the wall and your back, head, shoulders, and butt against the wall.
  2. Pull your belly button towards the spine as you draw your ribs in and down.
  3. Slightly tuck your chin as you try to get the back of your head to touch the wall.
  4. Put your arms on the wall overhead as you try to make the back of your hands touch the wall in a "V" position.
  5. Bend your elbows as you slide your hands down the wall with your head and trunk against the wall still.
  6. Maintain a good posture as you lower yourself as much as possible. When you reach the lowest point, hold for about 5 seconds before you return to the "V" position.

🎥 How to do the Wall Angel for tight shoulders

Shoulder Mobility Exercises Safety and Precautions

Common Shoulder Mobility Issues

Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is most common in swimmers; thus, "swimmer's shoulder." Shoulder impingement is caused by overuse of the shoulder. It causes a lot of shoulder pain. Shoulder impingement causes the rotator cuff to rub against the acromion. The narrowing of the bursa when you raise your arm causes an increase in pressure, which irritates the rotator cuff. This causes impingement. The symptoms of shoulder impingement include;

  • Shoulder weakness
  • Minor constant pain in the arm
  • Worse pain at night

Frozen Shoulder

A frozen shoulder affects the shoulder joint. It is accompanied by pain and stiffness that develops gradually and finally disappears. If you have a frozen shoulder, your capsule becomes thick and hard to move. Bands of scar tissue form, and the synovial fluid lessens, thus affecting shoulder lubrication. The primary symptoms are stiffness and pain in the shoulders.

Safety Tips

  • When you feel any sharp pain while doing these exercises, you should stop immediately.
  • Always remember to breathe, as breathing can help relieve stress and tension in your shoulders.
  • Start slowly and gradually increase your shoulder exercises. Do not make haste to do too much too soon.
  • If you sustain an injury or feel too much shoulder pain, consult your physical therapist or doctor.


Most people work out their shoulders without knowing  the right form since most never focus on shoulder workouts. However, due to the essential nature of shoulders in training, the shoulders need to stay strong, flexible, and mobile. This article has discussed some of the best shoulder mobility exercises you should remember during your workouts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How can I tell if I have poor shoulder mobility?

    If your shoulder is painful and hard to move, you likely have poor shoulder mobility.

  • What causes shoulder stiffness and pain?

    There are many reasons that can cause your shoulder to stiff and be painful. A frozen shoulder can be one such case.

  • Can shoulder mobility exercises help with shoulder impingement?

    Absolutely! Shoulder mobility exercises improve shoulder mobility, flexibility and stability and may help fix shoulder impingement.

  • Should I do shoulder mobility exercises even if I do not work out?

    Yes. These exercises help make your shoulder flexible, stronger, and mobile, allowing you to do your daily activities.

  • Can I improve my shoulder mobility on my own?

    You can improve your shoulder mobility by doing the exercises discussed in this article.

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