As one of the more complex joints in the body, the shoulders have the rare ability to move in multiple directions.
Achieving good shoulder mobility allows for one to better perform a wide variety of everyday movement patterns like throwing, lifting or pulling pain free and without restrictions.
Poor shoulder mobility can be caused by overactivity (training too much and in the wrong way) or inactivity (sedentary lifestyle or poor posture).
It is not at all uncommon to see someone hunched forward with rounded shoulders or to hear of stiff shoulders and other chronic shoulder ailments.
Also, there seems to be general confusion when it comes to flexibility and mobility as these terms are often used interchangeably.
Flexibility is what is necessary to achieve a full range of motion and includes the ability of your muscles to stretch. Mobility is the degree of control you have that allows for the strength and flexibility to perform a full range of motion.
I am of the opinion that a good fitness program will incorporate all three components – strength, flexibility and mobility. This will lead to better athletic performance, reduce pain or risk of injury and improve one’s overall quality of life.
With that said, here are three corrective exercises that will improve your shoulder mobility.
Shoulder Flexion Using Resistance Bands
Set up with a resistance band out in front by straightening your wrists fully. Keep your shoulder blades down and maintain a neutral posture.
Move the band upwards without bending your elbows till they are directly overhead.
To get the best out of using resistance bands, it is important to perform the exercise slowly. Control each repetition through the largest range of motion possible, and keep constant tension on the resistance band throughout.
This is a highly effective remedy for rounded shoulders due to poor posture.
The child pose is a simple yoga movement that really focuses on basic movements to unlock tension in the front shoulders and lower back. Furthermore, it can be performed at home or in the gym.
Kneel on an exercise mat and do a slow crawl forward with your head down until your arms are extended out in front of you.
Then lower your torso backwards onto your thighs, with your forehead on the ground at a rest position. Hold this pose while taking three deep breaths and repeat this motion three to five times.
Supine Floor Slides
This exercise reminds me of snow angels in the winter, albeit with some differences.
To do a floor slide, lie flat on your back with your knees up and your arms flat on the floor at a 90 degree angle above your head.
While maintaining contact with the floor, slowly move your arms overhead as you attempt to form a diamond at the top with both hands.
The key is to go as far as you can without letting your back or forearms leave the floor.
Alternatively this can also be performed resting your back against the wall if you so choose.
It is important to note that as we age, our body will be beset by general deterioration. So even if you are not a dedicated lifter or an athlete, it is still important to keep a long term view on mobility.