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How to Improve Shoulder Mobility – Corrective Exercises to Get You Ready for CrossFit

  • March 14, 2020

It is hard when you have shoulder problems. They often get in the way when you are doing your lifts, and there is the pain as well. Don’t worry, though. We are here to help you improve your shoulder mobility with corrective exercises meant to get you ready for CrossFit.

How to improve shoulder mobility? We start by performing a mobility test. Do this to determine your shoulder’s current standard. This way, you can find out what drills will work best to improve the flexibility of your shoulder. After that, we can move on to performing mobility exercises for shoulders to fix the problem.

It sounds easy, but it’s not. It will take time and effort to remedy the problems with your shoulder. But with determination and perseverance, you can do it no doubt. So, let’s get right to it and work on improving your shoulder mobility today.

What Can Mobility Exercises for Shoulders Do?

It is crucial for CrossFit that you can perform an excellent overhead positioning. But that’s impossible if you have issues with shoulder mobility and flexibility. Thankfully, some drills can help you with that. But wait, you need to take a shoulder flexibility test first. Here is a simple way to do that:

Go into the arms up position. Raise your arm and get someone to position at your side. If he cannot see your eyes because the arms get in the way and you cannot move the arms back, your shoulder does have mobility problems. It will significantly help you to train with mobility exercises for shoulders.

Of course, you should talk to your doctors first before trying any of the drills mentioned in this article. Doing so will help you to create the right program to improve your shoulder mobility. It is essential as well that you start training gradually. Build up to it over time to ensure you will not add more strain or injury to your shoulder joint.

Start Workout with Warmup

Find out your shoulder’s current health, strength, and fitness level. They will help you determine exactly how many repetitions to do for each drill you perform. Your goal here is to complete enough repetitions that make your shoulder muscles to work, but not exhausted. Before diving into the workout, don’t forget to get your muscles fired up with simple warmups:

  • Arm rotations – Rotate both your arms at the same. Do this in one direction ten times then repeat in the opposite direction.
  • Circular rotations – Rotate your arms in one direction. Do this one arm at a time ten times each then repeat in the opposite direction.
  • Resistance band, over and back – Using both hands, stretch a resistant band. Drop the hands with the resistance band in front of you then lift it over your head. Repeat the same procedure behind your back. Do this ten times.
  • Squat and reach – Squat down with your knees bent then try to touch your toes. Reach your right toe with your right hand while also extending your left hand up to the sky. While doing this, turn your shoulder and head to look up to your extended left hand. Do this again on the other side, ten times each.

Shoulder Mobility Exercises

When you are done warming up, try adding these mobility exercises for shoulders to your workout:

  • Overhead Opener

This exercise helps to stretch your thoracic spine and the shoulder girdle. Maximizing how your thoracic spine extends is vital for improving overhead mobility. By performing overhead opener along with other shoulder mobility drills, you can significantly improve them. Try to do an overhead opener as you can see in here.

  • Prone Lift Offs

With prone lift offs, you can provide your shoulder with an excellent stimulus to build its upper back strength. When your upper back becomes stronger, your flexibility increases too. While performing the drill, keep your glutes and abs tight to keep the focus on your shoulders.

  • Supine Raises

Eccentrics greatly help in using any muscle or joint. Adding this drill in your workouts is an excellent mobility technique to improve your shoulder flexibility. Doing this using lightly weighted bar results in your shoulder having better positioning for lifts and more. You will see more shoulder mobility exercises while supine here.

  • Down Dog

When you elevate your shoulders, the shoulder blade should also rotate upwardly. If you can’t, a traditional down dog position can help. Perform this to activate your serratus anterior, so it works on scapula motion. At the same time, it mobilizes your thoracic spine. You can see below the proper way to perform a down dog for improved shoulder flexibility.

  • Shoulder Squeezes

This drill helps improve the endurance and strength of the muscles of the shoulder blade. Perform by keeping your spine neutral then squeezing your shoulder blades together. Stay on that position for about 5 seconds then return to starting position. You can learn how to perform this exercise here.

  • Shoulder Controlled Articular Rotation

Shoulder CAR is an exercise that involves your shoulder actively moving through its full range of motion. By moving your arms and shoulders through its full range, you can improve your motor control and train the muscles to function beyond its limit of motion. You can find out below how to perform a shoulder CAR and improve your shoulder mobility.

What Are the Common Causes of Loss of Shoulder Mobility?

The shoulder is an incredibly mobile joint. However, it isn’t the case for most people due to various reasons. The shoulder is a complex structure comprised of three bones – the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. They are also known as the collarbone, shoulder blade, and upper arm bone, respectively.

They work in concert with four tendons, four muscles, and three ligaments so you can move your arms freely. Any of these structures can suffer trauma, and that may cause the shoulder problems you have. It gets worse when we age since the structures’ components break down, further contributing to the loss of mobility and pain.

People usually don’t realize they have mobility issues until after they felt pain. But the problem could have started long before that. If your shoulders are feeling stiff or painful, it could be due to many reasons. Before employing treatment and doing the corrective exercises I mentioned, it will help to know the cause of your shoulder problem first.

Some of the common causes of loss of shoulder mobility are:

  • Arthritis

Two problems related to arthritis could be why you have shoulder mobility problem – osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease common in older adults. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease causing pain, inflammation, and joint disfigurement.

Both of these can cause pain to shoulder joints and loss of mobility. When you have arthritis, the body soon reacts to protect your shoulder from movement by developing scar tissue. It is the scar tissue that restricts motion, thus making it hard for you to move your shoulders the way you want to.

  • Dislocation or Fractures

When your shoulder sustains an injury, such as fracture or dislocation, it can cause damage enough to cause stiffness that hinders your shoulder movement. If your shoulder suffered any trauma, its response would be to guard against it. Your shoulder then develops scar tissue that causes further problems with shoulder mobility.

  • Soft Tissue Injuries

If you perform certain types of sports or fitness activities such as CrossFit, it may cause soft tissue injuries. A typical example of this is the cuff wear and tear, which often leads to pain and loss of shoulder mobility. The rotator cuff could be frayed. Or it could be completely or partially torn off. Whatever the case, it will cause a lot of pain that makes it hard to move the shoulders.

  • Bursitis

Bursitis is another condition that may impede shoulder movement. The bursa is small, fluid-filled sacs that help the ease movement of tendons and muscles. Bursitis happens when the bursa is inflamed, which may be due to another injury. It then causes significant pain and loss of mobility of the shoulder joint or any affected joint.

It helps to know the reason why your shoulder isn’t moving optimally. It will compel you to talk to your doctor to ask for some advice on how to improve and reach your shoulder’s full potential.

Doing so is particularly important if you are looking to get into CrossFit and other hardcore sports. You need to be in your best condition, and you can start by following the correct fitness program.


How to improve your shoulder mobility? The answer is in mobility exercises for shoulders. Find the right shoulder mobility program and work out your shoulders following corrective exercises. You are going to have to take it a little slow depending on the problem with your shoulders. But if you follow your fitness program, rest assured your shoulders will get better.

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