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Tight Shoulders? It's time to fix them, now.
Shoulders are arguably the most problem-plagued joint in the body, and without due care and attention, the shoulder and its surrounding muscles range of motion can reduce significantly.
A reduced range of motion from tight shoulders can lead to a lack of shoulder mobility, affecting athletic performance and increasing the risk of general discomfort and pain in the shoulder area.
Whether you're struggling with day-to-day activities or you're pushing yourself for a new overhead squat PR, working on your shoulder flexibility is paramount.
Providing you with visual examples and coaching points to improve your shoulder mobility, these five shoulder stretches give a pre-habilitative approach, no matter if you're a top-level athlete or amateur gym attendee.
5 Awesome Shoulder Mobility Exercises You Need To Try
In light of the new Gymshark Studio Collections imminent arrival, we wanted to bring you five shoulder mobility exercises to help improve your shoulder flexibility and relieve those creaky, aching shoulders.
Scroll down to find out how to do each of the five shoulder mobility exercises
- Banded Shoulder Rotations
- Single-Arm Shoulder CARs
- Crab Stretch
- Cow Face Pose
- Behind The Back Lateral Pipe Stretch
Common Causes Of Shoulder Pain and Reduced Shoulder Mobility
Poor Posture - Maintaining a poor posture for prolonged periods can upset the biomechanics of your body, placing increased stresses in certain areas.
e.g. the typical 'hunched, forward-leaning' posture associated with working at a desktop computer.
As tightness in our shoulders builds up, other areas may start to feel the strain, such as our back, neck and even arms. Addressing the poor posture is the obvious step to take, but increasing your shoulders mobility will also help contribute to relieved stress in the area, and keep shoulder tightness at bay, too!
Tight Shoulders - Want to learn basic human physiology in 3-seconds? Here you go: Your muscles are all connected.
Yep, and those in a direct muscular chain can impact muscles significantly. So your back pain may actually be caused by your tight hamstrings... And your shoulder discomfort may be originating from tight biceps.
When a muscle is tight, it can limit the ROM (range of motion) and cause pain and discomfort elsewhere on the body.
Keep on top of your shoulder stretching exercises, but don't forget to give your other muscles a little TLC, too!
Neglecting Recovery - We're with you when it comes to training your body to its absolute limit, but, not giving your muscles (and joints) enough time to recover is a rookie mistake that even the more experienced of us often make.
Your shoulders need time to recover, fact.
By implementing a shoulder stretching routine, whether it be after your workout or at home in front of the TV, you can help promote recovery and increase shoulder mobility.
Healthier, more resilient shoulders reduce the likelihood of issues during your workouts, or when you're lifting the Christmas tree down from the attic...
Looking to build strength in your shoulders? Try these five exercises to build bigger shoulders.
5 OF THE BEST SHOULDER MOBILITY EXERCISES
1. Banded Shoulder Rotations
How to do banded shoulder rotations:
Banded rotations with a band is a great shoulder mobility exercise, which can also be done with a stick or pipe!
- Kneel down on a mat, keeping your torso nice and straight
- Grab a resistance band, holding it 1.5x - 2x your shoulder width
- Keep your arms straight, lift them up and over your head
- Complete a full rotation, taking the band behind your back down to your butt
- Return to the start position, keeping your arms straight
TIP: If you don't yet have the shoulder mobility to complete a full rotation, widen your grip. Alternatively, if you find it easy, slightly reduce the width of your grip on the resistance band.
2. Single Arm Shoulder CARs
How To Do Single-Arm Shoulder CARs
A similar movement to the banded shoulder rotation exercise, the Single-Arm Shoulder CAR's, which stands for Controlled Articular Rotation, is a great exercise for improving shoulder mobility.
- Kneel down on a mat, with a straight torso
- Start with your hands by your side, before slowing lifting one arm, keeping it straight
- Rotate up above your head, keeping your arm as close to your ear as possible
- Rotate the arm behind you, flexing the elbow at the end of the movement to place the back of your hand on your spine
3. Crab Stretch
How To Do The Crab Stretch
The Crab Stretch is great for opening up your anterior deltoid, providing a yoga-esque stretch to your post-gym shoulder mobility routine.
- Start seated on mat
- Place your feet flat in front of you, and your hands flat on the ground, facing forwards
- Lift your butt off the floor, extending your arms
- Push your hips and chest upwards to feel the stretch
- Hold the stretch for a few seconds, before returning slowly to the start position
TIP: If you find it difficult on your hands, start on your elbows and build up to the full crab stretch position.
4. Cow Face Pose
How To Do The Cow Face Pose
Another stretch taken from the yoga world; the Cow Face Pose is a great shoulder flexibility exercise, and a useful shoulder mobility test. The closer you can get your hands together, the more mobile your shoulders are. Don't worry if you can't touch your hands just yet, you'll get there with a little perseverance.
- Start kneeling on a matt, with an upright torso
- Extend one arm diagonally below you, and the other diagonally above
- Flex at the elbow, bring both hands behind your back
- Try to touch hands, without bending or moving your torso
- Return slowly to the start position
5. Behind The Back Lateral Pipe Stretch
How To Do The Behind The Back Lateral Pipe Stretch
A little more advanced than the other stretches, the fixed pipe allows for both arms to work simultaneously to push and pull, improving shoulder flexibility and putting your mobility to the test.
- Start kneeling on a mat, with a straight torso
- Grab the pipe with your top hand, placing it in line with your spine
- Reach around with your bottom hand
- Your top hands palm should be facing forwards, with your lower hands palm facing backwards
- Pull with your top hand, while pushing slightly with your lower hand
- Hold for a few seconds before slowly returning to the start position
Which of these five shoulder mobility exercises will you be trying first? Let us know in the comments below.
Keep an eye out for our next two mobility articles, coming soon to Central!