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6 Insanely Helpful Exercises for Bad Shoulders!

Matt Skeffington

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Matt’s primary role at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning is to make sure that our coaches and clients are consistently improving, all while operatin...

Aug 26 6 minutes read

Do you have discomfort when you reach overhead?

Do you feel like you've lost that youthful flexibility around your shoulders?

Is your neck stiff or do you feel like you hold stress and tension around your shoulders?

Looking to improve your posture?

Well I am here to show you that MOVEMENT is your best medicine.

It's time to get your shoulders and neck feeling GREAT!

Today I am going to take you through 5 movements.

These movements are specifically designed to: 

  • Improve flexibility around your shoulders

  • Decrease pain and stiffness

  • Naturally lubricate your shoulder joints

  • Increase blood flow to your shoulders

  • Drastically improve your posture

  • Relieve tension and stress

  • Increase shoulder strength

  • Get those shoulders feeling GREAT!

Before we get into our 5 movements, there are 3 rules to follow to get the most out of these exercises.

Rule #1: Do these movements daily

To make changes to our shoulders and our posture, we MUST be consistent.

We aren't going to improve much by doing these movements once per week.

They need to be done everyday!

Do you workout regularly? Perfect! Include these movements before each workout.

Do you have a job that causes you to sit a lot? Set a reminder on your phone to get up, take a break, and do these exercises each day.

Rule #2: Exhale

Some of these movements are going to be challenging for you at first. That's okay! 

A common mistake we see though is that people tense up and hold their breath to try to get further into their stretch.

This is a BIG no-no as tension causes our shoulders to stiffen up.

We want the exact opposite. 

When you feel a stretch or tension in the movement, be very mindful to slowly EXHALE through the end of the movement.

This signals your body to relax and stretch. 

You will actually get much more out of the exercises and drastically improve your flexibility and posture, while decreasing pain and stiffness!

Rule #3: Do no harm 

If you're someone with limited shoulder flexibility or shoulder pain, please ease into these exercises.

It is crucial for improving your shoulder health to do NO harm with these movements.

If you start an exercise and it causes pain or a pinch, simply ease off the exercise by not going as far into the movement.

Complete each exercise to the degree you can with NO pain. 

Over time this will drastically improve with much more pain-free motion. 

All we want to feel is a stretch and remember to exhale when you feel that stretch. 

Let's get into our exercises!

1| Arm Thread to Sky Bow

Targets: Shoulder flexibility and posture

Key Points:

  • Start on all fours with hands under shoulders and knees under hips

  • Take one arm and reach underneath as far as your can

  • Keep palm up and let your ear drop towards the floor

  • Exhale as you reach your end point

  • Come back up, leading with the elbow

  • Exhale and reach as high as you can, feeling your chest stretch

  • Think about reaching your finger tips to the ceiling 

  • Start with 5/side

2| Alternating Lateral Reach

Targets: Shoulder flexibility

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet directly under hips

  • Slowly reach one arm high overhead and one arm low across waist

  • Keep both arms straight throughout

  • Picture someone is pulling your arms apart as you exhale, side bend and reach

  • You should feel a nice stretch through your sides

  • Start with 5/side

3| Overhead Arm Circles

Targets: Shoulder flexibility and strength

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet directly under hips

  • Slowly bring arms overhead

  • Reach your thumbs as high as you can and picture someone is pulling your arms to the ceiling

  • Start small, controlled arm circles, making sure the movement comes from your shoulders, not your elbows

  • Keep your posture tall, head still, and work on slow, deep exhales

  • Your shoulders should burn a bit from working hard but not cause pain

  • Start with :15-:20/side

4| Row and Reach

Targets: Shoulder flexibility and strength, as well as improved posture

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet directly under hips

  • Slowly bring arms in front of you to shoulder height

  • Picture you're squeezing two dumbbells

  • Inhale as you pull your elbows back and squeeze your shoulder blades together

  • Keep your shoulders down and away from your ears

  • Slowly exhale, interlace your fingers and reach long

  • Feel your shoulder blades spread apart and a nice stretch through your upper-back

  • Start with 10 reps

5| Alternating Rotational Reach

Targets: Shoulder flexibility and improved posture

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet directly under hips

  • Bring your hands up under your chin and elbows high

  • Rotate in one direction leading with the elbow and keep hips still

  • Once you've gotten as far as you can, open the arm and reach

  • Make sure thumb is up and eyes are on hand

  • Slowly exhale as you feel your chest stretch

  • Start with 5 reps/side

6| Lateral Neck Stretch

Targets: Neck flexibility and decreased stiffness

Key Points:

  • Start tall with feet directly under hips

  • Bring your palms forward and have your hands by your sides

  • Think about reaching long through your finger tips as though someone is pulling your arms to the floor

  • Keep shoulders down away from ears

  • Slowly exhale as you take your ear towards your shoulder

  • You should feel a nice neck and upper trap stretch

  • Start with 5 reps/side

Ready to get into a consistent routine this fall?

We're here to help you get into the best shape of your life!

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