There are specific stretches and exercises that can be especially beneficial if you have shoulder tightness, are recovering from an injury, or simply want to increase the strength of your shoulder muscles.

Adding shoulder-specific exercises and stretches into your overall workout routine helps to not only improve your shoulder mobility but also its flexibility. These movements may also help you build shoulder strength, improve shoulder function, and avoid injury.

Continue reading to find out more about the shoulder exercises and stretches that can improve your functional fitness and make it easier to move your shoulders.

Shoulder Mobility Drills



Exercises that focuses on the shoulder such as those listed below, can help you build strength and mobility in your shoulder muscles and joints. These exercises may also aid in the prevention of tightness and, as a result, injury.

Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes with dynamic upper body stretches like arm circles, arm swings, and spinal rotations before performing any of these exercises.

Warming up in this manner helps to increase blood flow to a specific area of the body, which also helps overall function.

Work with a physical therapist if you’re recovering from a shoulder injury or surgery so you can do the right exercises and stretches for your condition.

1. Arm swings while standing

This is an excellent dynamic exercise for increasing blood flow to the shoulder joint.

This exercise, performed as part of a warmup before performing upper body exercises, can improve shoulder and upper back mobility and flexibility.

i. To begin, stand tall with your arms by your sides.

ii. Engage your core and swing your arms forward as far as they will go. Make sure your shoulders aren’t raised.

iii. Repeat by returning your arms to the starting position.

iv. Perform this motion for 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Shoulder pass-through

The shoulder pass-through exercise improves joint mobility while also engaging the shoulder’s surrounding muscles.

Holding a long stick, such as a broomstick or PVC pipe, is required for this exercise.

To complete this exercise, follow these steps:

i. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms outstretched in front of you.

ii. Use an overhand grip to hold a stick, such as a broomstick. Your arms will be wider than your shoulders. Ascertain that the stick or pipe is parallel to the floor.

iii. Engage your core and raise the broomstick or pipe above your head slowly while keeping your arms straight. Do not do excess. Only do as much as you feel comfortable.

iv. Maintain the pose for a few seconds.

v. Return to your starting point.

vi. Rep 5 times more.

3. Rows from high to low

Hi-to-low rows, according to Snyder, really challenge the upper back and thoracic muscles, which provide a lot of stability to the shoulder joint. This exercise necessitates the use of a resistance band. This exercise can also be done in the gym with a cable machine.

To complete this exercise, follow these steps:

i. Attach a resistance band to a sturdy object above your shoulders.

ii. Kneel on one knee and grasp the band with the other hand. The other hand can be placed by your side.

iii. Pull the band toward your body while maintaining a straight torso and arm. Focus your attention on your shoulder blades together. You are to squeeze them together.

iv. Return to the starting position and repeat the process.

v. Perform 2–3 sets of 10 reps on each side.

4. Fly in reverse

The reverse fly exercise is very similar to the high-to-low rows exercise as they both target the upper back and thoracic muscles, which provide a lot of stability to the shoulder joint. A set of light dumbbells is required for this exercise.

To complete this exercise, follow these steps:

i. In each hand, hold a dumbbell.

ii. Stand shoulder-width apart with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.

iii. Engage your core and bring your torso forward. Maintain a straight back. Your arms will be outstretched.

iv. Raise your arms and move them away from your body. Concentrate on pressing your shoulder blades together. When you reach shoulder height, come to a halt.

v. Return to the starting position slowly and repeat.

vi. Perform three sets of ten repetitions.


As you train yourself, you must pay close attention and interpret how closely shoulder mobility issues are related to your lifestyle habits. This will assist you in determining what is causing your shoulder mobility issues. It is critical to achieve optimal balance in the shoulder joint. Despite its incredible flexibility, the shoulder is prone to developing poor mobility.

Coupling of Force

Force coupling is an important part of maintaining the shoulder joint’s versatility. When two equal and opposing forces act on each other to produce rotational movement, this is referred to as force coupling. In other words, as one muscle works and produces movement, another works against it to stabilize the shoulder. This is important to understand because poor mobility can be caused by unequal forces pulling against each other. This causes muscle imbalances, which are then exacerbated by lifestyle activities, posture, and exercise.

One of the three bones that make up the shoulder, the scapula, is essentially a “floating” bone. The scapula is essential in stabilizing the shoulder and allowing free movement in the joint. The trapezius and serratus anterior pull against each other to allow rotational movement of this bone. Knowing this type of information can help you more efficiently pinpoint client problem areas.

i. Inactivity

One of the most common causes of poor shoulder mobility is inactivity rather than movement. Frozen shoulder has become a very big issue affecting shoulder mobility, because of inactivity, and as the most mobile joint in the human body, it has a strong desire to move frequently. Flexibility can only be maintained by moving freely. If your client is inactive for an extended period of time, this can cause restrictions in how and when they move.

When connective tissue becomes tight or weak, the shoulder joint’s stability and flexibility suffer. Despite the fact that stiffness and pain develop as a result of inactivity, frozen shoulder is far more common in those recovering from an injury or surgery. With a medical condition that causes adhesive capsulitis, movement of the arm and shoulder joint is usually severely limited. With frozen shoulder, the shoulder capsule thickens and tightens, giving rise to the term adhesive capsulitis.

ii. Incorrect posture

Because of the internal rotation of the shoulders, this also contributes to impingement issues. Internal rotation causes the humerus bone to tilt and sit incorrectly in the shoulder socket. A client may experience tendons aggravation when moving with this positioning. This causes inflammation in the connective tissue, resulting in shoulder pain. When you place your focus on correcting forward posture in your clients, it can help them to avoid impingement, and most importantly, internal rotation of the shoulders. If your client begins to experience shoulder inflammation, bursitis or tendonitis may be present.

iii. Lack of stability

Because of a lack of strength and flexibility, a client’s shoulder is frequently unstable to begin with. Because many exercise movements involve the shoulder, you must ensure that it is strong and stable. This is significant because exercise adds additional load to the client’s original movement dysfunction. Improper technique can jeopardize areas such as the rotator cuff. Depending on the sport, we see this frequently in athletes. Most sports require you to use one side of your body more than the other. Athletes also perform repetitive movements that limit the shoulder’s range of motion.


Rotator cuff exercises

The rotator cuff exercises and stretches listed below can help you gain strength and flexibility in your rotator cuff.

length of the arm

To perform an arm reach, a person should do the following:

i. Lie flat on your back, extend your arms and legs, and tighten your abs.

ii. Raise one arm to the ceiling until the shoulder blade is clear of the floor.

iii. Continue to hold for 5 seconds.

iv. Return your arm to its original position on the ground.

v. Rep on the other side.

While lying down, perform an external rotation.


Follow these steps to complete this exercise:

i. Lie on your side on a firm surface with your upper hand holding a light weight.

ii. Bend the top elbow to 90 degrees, keeping the upper arm against the body’s side and the weighted hand in front of the body on the floor.

iii. Rotate the arm at the shoulder, bringing the weight toward the ceiling while keeping the elbow against the body’s side.

iv. Return the weighted arm to its starting position slowly.

v. Rep on the other side of your body.

Place a small towel roll in your armpit while performing this exercise to reduce stress on the shoulder joint.


Side mobility help you build shoulder strength, improve shoulder function, and avoid injury.

Exercises that focuses on the shoulder such as those listed above can help you build strength and mobility in your shoulder muscles and joints. These exercises may also aid in the prevention of tightness and, as a result, injury.


According to a renowned researcher, the main benefit of stretching the shoulder is to prevent injury to the muscles and joints.

Because the stretches listed below are static stretches, they should be done after a workout or immediately after a warmup that includes dynamic stretches.

Stretch your arms across your chest.

The rotator cuff muscles are targeted by the cross-arm stretch. A good stretch should be felt in the back shoulders.

To perform this stretch, follow these steps:

i. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your right arm slightly higher than shoulder height.

ii. Place your left hand on your right elbow and gently pull your right arm across your body, supporting it with your left hand.

iii. Hold this position for a maximum of 30 seconds.

iv. Repeat on the other side.

v. Repeat 3–5 times on each side.

Sleeper stretch

The sleeper stretch works the shoulder’s internal rotation well.

When dealing with a shoulder injury or during rehab, this stretch is frequently recommended.

While this stretch can be done on both sides for general health, if you have an injury, the emphasis should be on the injured side.

To perform this stretch, follow these steps:

i. Be on the injured side Choose a side to begin with if you are not injured or in pain. Your shoulder blades should be stacked beneath you.

ii. Bring your elbow straight out from your shoulder and bend your arm so that your fingers point to the ceiling. This is your starting point.

iii. Using the unaffected arm, gently guide this arm toward the floor. When you feel a stretch in the back of your affected shoulder, come to a halt.

iv. Hold this position for a maximum of 30 seconds.

v. Perform 3 repetitions before switching sides.

Doorway stretch

The doorway stretch allows you to stretch each side of your chest separately, which is useful if one side of your chest is tighter than the other.

This stretch helps to open the pectoralis muscles in your chest and increases your shoulder range of motion.

To perform this stretch, follow these steps:

i. Standing in a doorway, make a 90-degree angle with your elbows and arms. You should have your feet in a split stance.

ii. Raise your right arm to shoulder level and rest your palm and forearm on the doorway.

iii. Lean into the stretch gently, only going as far as you feel comfortable.

iv. Hold the stretch for up to 30 seconds at a time.

v. Repeat on the other side. Repeat 2–3 times on each side.


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