9 Stretches for Shoulder Mobility

The shoulder is a complex joint that’s built for mobility. The shoulder is comprised of the humerus (upper arm bone), the scapular (shoulder blade) and the clavicle (collar bone). The tiny socket that the humeral head fits into is about the size of a dime. There is also a connection between the clavicle and the scapular (wing bone). The shoulder joint capsule and ligaments are thin, enabling the shoulder to have a great degree of freedom of movement. This freedom comes at a cost; the shoulder is highly vulnerable to injury and subsequent loss of motion.

These stretches can help you regain shoulder mobility when it’s lost and to maintain normal range of motion throughout your life. These exercises should be performed slowly & gently.

  1. Shoulder Rolls: With arms hanging limply, bring your shoulders forward, upward towards your ears, backwards and then drop them back into your normal resting position. Do this 3x, and then repeat the cycle in reverse.
  2. Pass The Baby: Cradle your arms in front of your chest and grab your elbows. Raise arms up to neck level. Move cradled arms as far to the right as possible, than to the left.
  3. Snow Angel: Stand against wall or lie on your back on the floor. Straighten your elbows and raise your arms out to your side (90º) and than overhead. Bring arms back down to your side.
  4. Cactus: Bring your upper arm out sideways (shoulder 90º) and hands overhead (elbow 90º) and palms pointing to the front of your body. Use the floor or wall as a reference.
  5. Reverse Cactus: You guessed it, this time your hands are by your waist, palms pointing to the back.
  6. Yawn: Place your hands behind your head with your fingers interlaced. Bring your elbows back. This stretches the front of your chest and brings the scapular back.
  7. Climbing The Walls:
    • Stand with your feet facing the wall with toes about 18” from the wall. Reach your hand to the wall and climb with your fingers (like a spider) up the wall and down.
    • Stand with your feet about 18” from the wall and parallel to the wall. Reach your hand to the wall and spider up and down.
  8. Towel Stretches (Advanced):
    • Begin by standing with your arms extended by your sides. Than, bring your arms behind your back and grab a towel between both of your hands.  Stretch your arms behind you and up.
    • Take your left hand and reach over your shoulder and behind your neck while holding a towel. With the right hand, reach behind your low  back and grab the other end of the towel. Gently pull up with the top hand, than down with the bottom. Reverse the hand position and repeat.
  9. Swimming Down Stream: These exercises are simple and profound. Standing, mimic these swim like motions.
    • Free Style
    • Back Stroke
    • Breast Stroke

Our shoulder stretches are not meant to be a substitute for therapeutic intervention. We use them in our clinic in conjunction with an acupuncture or Rolfing series. Shoulder problems are complex and If you have a shoulder problem, seek the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Also Read:

Acupuncture For Frozen Shoulder

Stretches For The Psoas

7 Stretches To So At Your Desk