When was the last time you thought about your shoulder mobility? Probably never, unless you’ve experienced issues with your shoulders.
But issues can strike at any time if you neglect your shoulders, and it takes just five minutes to work on your mobility before or after a workout. For advice on some exercises you can try, we enlisted Stephen Price, co-founder of BodySPace. Before you try those moves, however, it’s worth checking in on the current state of your shoulders.
Shoulder Range Of Motion Test
Price has an effective test to help you find out how mobile your shoulders are. “Lie down with your back on the floor or stand with your back facing a wall. Set up by trying to straighten out – keep your rib cage in and brace your abdominals to maintain a neutral pelvis, spine, and rib position. Exhale fully. Then, with your arms straight, reach up and try to bring both arms to your ears.
“If your arms can lie straight against the floor or wall with your rib cage remaining stable or you arching your lower back, your mobility is really good. But if there’s compensatory movement from your rib cage or lumbar spine to straighten out your arms, then it’s advisable to avoid vertical pressing and pulling movements, and work on your shoulder mobility.”
Shoulder Mobility Drills
Assuming you’re warming up your upper body before each workout, try slipping these five moves into your routine to improve the mobility of your shoulders.
Thoracic Spine Roll-Out With Shoulder Flexion
“Lie over a foam roller that’s perpendicular to your spine and just underneath your shoulder blades. Place a barbell on the ground above your head. Reach for the barbell, making a Y shape with your arms. Keep your elbows straight. Place your feet flat on the floor and hold your hips in the air. Slowly exhale and lower your hips toward the floor.
“You should feel your upper back extending and a stretch in the front of your chest. Pause for five seconds, then lift your hips and move the roller slightly closer to your shoulders. Lower your hips and pause again for five seconds. Perform with the roller at several locations on your upper back.”
“Begin in a kneeling position on a mat with your hands directly under your shoulders, fingers spread wide. Tuck your toes under and engage your abs as you push your body up off the mat so only your hands and feet are in contact with the ground.
“Press through your hands, gently moving your chest towards your thighs and your heels towards the floor. Relax your head and neck and take a deep breath. Visualise yourself forming a straight line from your arms to your tailbone while keeping your knees bent. Hold for one minute and focus on the sensation in your lats and rear shoulders.”
Loosen Pecs And Lats
“Tight muscles can often be the culprit behind poor shoulder mobility. Soft tissue work with a tennis ball, golf ball or foam roller can help alleviate the tension and improve overall mobility.
“To target the pecs, sandwich a tennis ball between your upper chest and a wall. Place pressure on the ball and slowly roll the ball over your pecs. For the lats, lie sideways over a foam roller. Slowly roll your body up and down the roller so it massages your rear shoulder and lat muscles.
“When you find a sensitive spot, stop and apply direct pressure until the tightness and pain slowly dissipates. Be sure to hit both sides.”
Sphinx Pose With Anterior Reach
“Weakness in the serratus anterior – a muscle involved in stabilising your shoulder blade and its movement – can make it difficult to raise your arm during shoulder flexion. Improving this muscle’s strength can greatly improve range of motion in your shoulders.
“Lie on your stomach and place your elbows and forearms on the ground to prop up your upper body. From this position push your chest away from the ground, pushing your shoulder blades away from each other, and stretching your head upward. Hold this position and reach one arm forward.
“Focus on keeping your shoulder blade in that position and holding a neutral torso position while reaching forwards. Hold the reach for one minute, then return your arm to the starting position and reset your shoulder blades. Then switch sides.”
BodySPace is the new fitness, nutrition and wellness offering from Stephen Price and David Higgins