Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

by Christie Leclair May 30, 2017 0 Comments

Having trouble with that overhead position? How is your front rack for squats? These are our top 5 shoulder mobility exercises which you can do pre or post-workout!


Anatomy you need to know…

As you may know, the shoulder joint is called a ball and socket joint. But this does not fully describe the joint. A ball and socket usually leads people to believe there is some sort of comfy slot (socket) for the arm (ball) to be trapped in. In reality, the shoulder joint is nothing more than two bones somewhat close together and a whole host of soft tissue- muscles and ligaments- criss-crossing across the two, holding them together.

All that soft tissue is bound to lead to problems, even though it is what makes our shoulders so mobile. No other joint can move as freely as the arm does in the shoulder joint. Muscles from the back and chest attach at various points, which means that at any given time a tight muscle is pulling the balanced structure apart, or compressing it in any direction. These tight muscles quickly limit the range of motion of the joint and can eventually lead to some pain, or possibly injury, if they require a compensation elsewhere.

Looking at a persons posture may give an indication of which shoulder is causing more problems, but testing mobility is the best way to find out where improvements should be made. 

More than likely, you have some idea of what is and is not mobile enough in your shoulders based on the lifts you have the most trouble with. A combination of stretching and myofascial release techniques can go a long way!


Here Are Our Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises:

1. Supine Lying Overhead Squats 

This is probably the most complex of the 5 stretches, but is so effective at opening up the chest. Lying on your back with a foam roller horizontal under your mid back or lower traps. Place a light barbell overhead. Place arms at about 45 degrees out from your body as you would in an overhead squat grip. Maintain your feet flat on the floor and hips up in the air to place your hands and shoulders. Keep your arms extended when you activate the stretch by dipping your hips down towards the floor.


2. Corner Stretch

Another simple way to loosen up both Pec major muscles at the same time. Find a corner somewhere, and get comfy! Place your arms up in an ‘L’ shape, with elbows and shoulders creating a straight line. Place both forearms up on the wall and gently lean forwards to activate the stretch. Stretch for 2 seconds then release, repeating 8 to 10 times.


3. Front Rack/Back Rack Stretch 

Here, you’ll need to place a bar in a rack at approximately your back squat height. Place hands in your front racking position that you typically use for a front squat. Then tuck your head under the bar as you would for a back squat. Without lifting the bar off the rack, rest your upper traps against it. To activate the stretch, bring the elbows forward. Push into the stretch for 2 seconds, then relax. Repeat this 8 to 10 times.


4. Lat Stretch With Band 

Grab a medium or heavy resistance mobility band. Anything with some elastic spring in it could work as well. Loop it to a high anchor at least 12 inches above your head. Perform this mobility exercise one arm at a time. Hold the end of the band, looping your hand under or through the elastic, and then grasping over the two ends. The band should be looped around your wrist to take the pressure off your grip (this part isn’t as important as the actual stretch)!

To activate, lean forwards, keeping your hips and shoulders square to the ground. Allow the band to pull on your arm, extending it at the shoulder. Shift left to right to activate different sections of the lats. Hold the moving stretch for about 45 seconds before switching.


5. Internal/External Rotations 

This is a great way to warm up the shoulders for any movement, activating the muscles of the rotator cuff and loosening their range of motion.

Place your arms in a ‘L’ shape again. Ensure that the elbows are at the same height as the shoulders, creating a clean line. To externally rotate, bring the knuckles of your hand upwards and back, keeping the alignment of the shoulders and elbows intact. To internally rotate, bring the palms down in a full semi-circle, pushing down and then backwards.

Hold the end position of each for 2 seconds, then rotate, repeating the alternations. Perform 10 to 12 rotations.

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Christie Leclair
Christie Leclair


FD Bulsara, BSc is a competitive athlete in Olympic weightlifting and a student in Osteopathy. She coaches private and group fitness classes and freelance writing about her passions: fitness, health, sport, nutrition, weightlifting, CrossFit, injury prevention, pain relief, injury rehabilitation, and the latest research on all these topics! She is a dog person and spends free time training at the lake. Find her

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