Shoulder Mobility: 3 Crucial Exercises To Maximize Your Shoulder Mobility

Shoulder mobility is key when you’re participating in any of type of exercise program. CrossFit especially requires full range of motion, to perform Olympic lifting movements such as overhead squats and snatch. Without adequate shoulder mobility, your form will be compromised, which can result in a loss of power and even worse, cause injury.

In this article you will learn
  • How To Test Your Shoulder Mobility
  • Why Is Shoulder Mobility Important?
  • Shoulder Mobility Warm Up Exercises
  • The Best Exercises To Improve Shoulder Mobility

How To Test Your Shoulder Mobility 

The easiest and most efficient way to measure shoulder mobility is with the standard reach test. The reach test, is simply when you take one arm, raise it above your head, then bend at the elbow and reach behind your neck as far between your shoulder blades as possible. With the opposite arm, reach behind your back and try to touch your fingertips together.

If your fingers overlap, your shoulder mobility is considered to be excellent. If your fingers do not touch, and are less than two inches apart, your shoulder mobility is considered to be average. Anything less than that, your shoulder mobility is going to need some work. 

Why Is Shoulder Mobility Important?

Shoulder mobility is crucial to keep your joints healthy and for full range of motion during Olympic lifts. Considering that the majority are not professional athletes, and either sit at a desk all day or have terrible posture from sitting in a forward rolled shoulder position, your joints become stiff, creating neck and shoulder pain. With less than stellar joint mobility, jumping into heavy snatches and overhead squats, can lead to an injury pretty fast.

The fact of the matter, is that if your shoulder mobility sucks, then your workouts can not be optimized to their full potential.

Shoulder Mobility Warm Ups

Properly warming up your shoulders will increase oxygen and blood flow to your muscle tissues, keeping your joints healthy and active to support heavy workout loads. Below are a few of our recommended shoulder mobility warm ups, to prep you for heavy weight and Olympic movements. Not to mention, help prevent you from tearing your rotator cuff, or pulling a muscle.

Circular Rotations: This one is easy. Position both arms straight out from your sides and rotate your shoulders in small circles going the same direction for 30 seconds. Work your way to larger circles, then go the opposite direction. Do this for a series of 2-5 times, for 30 seconds each.

Resistance Band Overhead & Back: If you dont have a resistance band, a PVC pipe will work just as well. Take the band and stretch it in opposite directions and raise it in front of you. Progress over your head and back behind you, and repeat for ten reps.

Wall Crawl: If you’ve experienced a torn rotator cuff in the past, or have shoulder pain, especially in the overhead position this works well. Position your palm on a wall, and crawl with your fingers up the wall as far as your arm will reach and within comfort. Once you get to the furthest distal position, crawl back down for a series of 10 reps per arm.

The 3 Best Exercises To Improve Shoulder Mobility

By incorporating these shoulder mobility exercises before heavy loaded lifts, you’ll undoubtedly improve your strength, form, and range of motion to improve overall performance and shoulder mobility. 

1. Z Press & Shoulder Press

Seated Z press or shoulder press, is a great shoulder mobility exercise. By isolating and focusing on the anterior and medial deltoids, it provides a structural framework to strengthen mobility as well perfect form and core strength.

From the seated position with legs comfortably out in front of you, grab two dumbbells around 50-60% max. From there, extend both arms above head for a 3:3 timed extension to contraction. This will help strength mobility as well as maximize range of motion for heavier lifts.

RELATED ARTICLE Z Press: How To Build Better Overhead Strength

2. Scarecrows

Scarecrows are rarely seen in the gym or box. Why? No idea. Scarecrow workouts reduce or prevent potential damage by strengthening the rotator cuff muscles along with the posterior and lateral deltoid muscles, increasing shoulder stability. They also engage your obliques, and strengthen your core. With this exercise, use 5-10lb weighted plates. 

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab a weighted plate in each hand and, keeping your abs tense, bend at the knees and hips until your torso is almost parallel with the floor. Let your arms hang straight down, then bring them up so that they form a 90-degree angle at the elbow. Your upper arms should be aligned with your shoulders. Rotate your forearms until your hands and weights are level with your head, then press the weights straight out in front of you as if you are doing a pushup. Bring your arms back towards you, let your forearms fall so that the weights are now closer to the ground and slowly return to the starting position to complete the rep. Try and complete three sets of 10 to 12 reps, resting for 60 seconds between each set. 

RELATED ARTICLE 10 Of The Best Shoulder Exercises To Build More Strength

3. Banded Angels

Banded workouts will help strengthen the scapula in different planes of motion. It will also help in the catching motion of push or split jerk by balancing between the dorsal and ventral parts of the deltoids and thoracic spine.

Use a med band 5-15lbs of resistance. Pull the bands with both arms in line with your ears above hit head, at shoulder height and at hip height with palms face forward. Keep your core tight and rotate for 10-15 reps of two sets.

How To Improve Shoulder Mobility: The Takeaway

Without the proper range of motion due to comprised mobility, your lifting will undoubtedly suffer. Shoulder mobility is important, to avoid injury and optimize your true athletic capabilities. Bad posture happens and forward titled shoulders can cause neck and shoulder pain, which will affect your lifting, and everyday life. By incorporating simply warm ups and shoulder mobility exercises, you can ensure a full range of motion and better performance.

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