Although your knees and low back may be the two most common areas in your body that can sustain an injury, your shoulder may be the most susceptible upper body joint to get injured.
And that’s because your shoulder joint is strongly influenced by the surrounding muscles, making it vulnerable to muscular imbalance. This is why shoulder problems can come from bad posture, especially forward hunched posture which can shorten anterior shoulder muscles and over-stretch posterior shoulder muscles. And it’s this muscular imbalance which causes you to lose flexibility, leading to chronic shoulder problems. The good news is that you can reverse these problems or even prevent them altogether.
In today’s video (below), I’ll demonstrate 6 mobility exercises you can easily include into your warm-up routine to help increase your shoulder joint flexibility. These movements will help resolve your muscular imbalance, so you can put an end to any nagging shoulder problems and regain optimal shoulder function.
(Written exercise descriptions are posted below)
Just a quick note before you perform these exercises with a stick: If you have rounded shoulders from either poor posture or muscular imbalance, you’ll likely have a lack of shoulder motion. So when you do this the first time make sure to take a very wide grip on the stick and keep your elbows locked out. As you start performing these exercises, your range of motion on your shoulders should slowly start to increase. As your shoulder motion increases, you should be able to gradually shorten the grip you take on the stick.
- Pull Throughs - Start in a standing position holding a light stick by your waist. You can use a broom stick, without the broom head or any stick around 4 - 6 ft long. Hold the stick wide and slowly pull the stick up towards your chest. Keep the stick as close to your body as possible and when you reach a point that you can’t pull it up any higher, externally rotate your shoulders and push the stick overhead until your arms are full extended. Make sure to bring the stick slightly behind your head. Bring the stick down to your waist and repeat 6-8 reps.
- Shoulder Retraction to Press Ups - Keep a wide grip on the stick and start with the stick behind your upper back and bring the stick down your back as low as possible by retracting your shoulder blades. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull them down as far as possible. Then slowly push the stick up overhead until your arms are fully extended. Make sure you keep the bar slightly behind your head upon extension. Slowly bring the stick back down and repeat 6-8 reps.
- Sots Press - Start with the stick behind your neck. Keep a wide grip on the stick and push the stick overhead as you squat down into a full squat. Pretend that you’re using the stick to push your body down into a full squat. Make sure to keep the bar slightly behind your head during this entire movement. Slowly come up from the squat and lower the stick behind your neck at the same time. Once you reach the starting position, repeat for 6-8 reps.
- Backward Lunges with a Twist - Start by carrying the stick overhead with your arms fully extended. Keep a wide grip and lunge backwards. In the lunge position, twist your upper body and bring one end of the stick towards the heel of your lunging leg. If you do this properly, you will feel a good stretch on your hip flexors as well as you upper back and torso. Come up from the lunge position and untwist at same time. Repeat with the opposite leg and twist and reach down to the opposite side. Repeat the move 3-4 reps on each leg.
- Side Lunges with Press Ups - Start with the stick behind your neck. Keep a wide grip on the stick and lunge to the side. In the lunge position, press the stick overhead into full arm extension. Make sure you keep the stick slightly behind your head as you’re pressing the stick up. Come up from the lunge as you bring the stick down behind your neck. Repeat going the opposite side. Repeat this move 3-4 times on each leg.
- Arm Swings
- Variation 1 - This is a complicated move, so I’ll do the best that I can to describe the moves. You don’t need a stock for this move. Start with your arms out to the side. Swing your arms along the front of your body and as your elbows cross paths, keep your elbows together and bend them as much as possible allowing your forearms to criss-cross in front of your chest. This motion flexes your elbows and externally rotates your shoulders at the same time. Following this motion, bring your elbows apart and raise them up and out as far as possible and bring your hands behind your head. Then extend your elbows and straighten your arms out at about a 120 degrees from your sides. Bring your arms around and repeat. Try to do this in smooth continual motion and repeat for 6-8 reps.
- Variation 2 - Once you’ve done Variation #1, it’s time to reverse the motion. Start with your arms up and out at about 120 degrees from your sides. Bring your elbows into your body while bending them at the same time. Try to bring your elbows as close together as possible in front of your body. At this time your elbows should be fully bent. Keeping your elbows together, swing the forearms around such that they criss-cross in front of you and then straighten them out as you bring the arms out again away from your body into the starting position. Try to do this in smooth continual motion and repeat for 6-8 reps.
Your shoulder is your most important upper body joint and so keeping them strong and flexible is vital to your fitness goals. Remember, the best way to get lean and fit is by doing full-body exercises and that means using your shoulders to push, press, and pull to maximize intensity so you can boost your strength and increase your metabolism for effective weight loss.
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