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What are the Best Mobility Exercises for Shoulders?

By Joe Talarico on May 24, 2022 10:45:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time


Having a good mobility routine can do wonders for preventing injury and also priming you for your workout. The purpose of a good mobility flow is to wake up the shoulders and shoulder blades, and get dormant muscles awake and moving. A lot of time, when we get injured, it is because we aren’t properly firing certain muscles in synchronicity the way it needs to. If you aren’t able to get full range for your shoulders and add a load (like in a behind the neck press), that weight distribution ends up getting unevenly spread out. More of it ends up going to the stabilizing muscles because you aren’t able to get into a far enough back position to let the shoulders do the work. This puts the scapula at risk for injury. 

Here are some great mobility exercises you can do to keep your shoulders healthy.  

Full Body Hang - 3 sets of 10-15 second hangs

This is going to help create space in the shoulder girdle and open everything up. It’s also going to be great for decompressing your spine. The key here is to feel a nice stretch in the lats, and shoulders.  

Downward Dog - 3 sets of 5-10

The key here is to keep a good flow going. When in the downward dog position, make sure you are sitting back enough to have your heels touch the ground, but still getting a good stretch. Next, you are coming forward and making sure you get into a good plank position. Your stomach should be squeezed, and low back flat. Make sure you are really pushing through your hands and driving through the floor.

Scapular Circles - 3 sets 10-15 each direction

Get in a four point stance (hands and knees on the ground), and push your hands through the floor so you can engage the scapula and get it moving in circles. Make sure to go in both directions.

 Prone Handcuffs - 3 sets of 10-12

This may be challenging for some, but that just shows the importance of doing the exercise. Lying on your stomach make sure you have your hands behind your back, with the palms facing up. Retract the shoulder blades and get a good lift off with your hands from your low back, then extend them out and to the side towards the top of your head ending with the palms facing up. You want to feel the back muscles doing the work by constantly helping keep the retracted state.

I like to do this routine when I’m watching TV, or before any upper body heavy focused days. It gets my back and shoulders primed for my upcoming workout, and helps make sure I’m engaging the muscles that need to be firing. After some time, I will start exchanging exercises out for others, if I find new areas or muscles are starting to improperly fire, or I see a glaring weakness in my lifts during my routine.

If you need exercises to switch out, make sure to check out our MAPS Prime Pro.

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Joe Talarico

Joe is a certified Precision Nutrition and strength & conditioning coach. He assisted the UCLA Women’s Tennis team in winning their 2014 NCAA Championship Title, as well as study under the great strength coaches at Pepperdine University. He was a collegiate rower at the University of Rhode Island (where he got his Kinesiology degree) as well as an amateur physique competitor. He is currently the master trainer at Upgrade Labs in Santa Monica where he is combining his years of training clients in the gym with newer technology to optimize their performance and recovery. He also cohosts The RelationSH*T Show Podcast with his fiancée where they discuss all relationship topics unfiltered from who pays on dates, to open relationships.

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