Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder Pain Guide

Dr. Ryan Hosler & Dr. Jen Hosler


Your Guide to Shoulder Pain Recovery

1. We Understand Your Frustration.

First and foremost, we understand how much shoulder pain sucks. Shoulder pain can be a very tricky problem to deal with. And if left untreated, it can continue to cause nagging problems for several years to come.

Having shoulder pain can seriously impact your daily life and productivity. And it definitely affects your ability to train in the gym and fully partake in sports. Not to mention the impact it has on simple daily tasks such as reaching overhead in cabinets!

We’ve treated several patients with shoulder pain in our office. In fact, treating shoulder pain is a large part of our practice and the third most common complaint we treat (behind low back pain and neck pain). Shoulder pain is so common that some studies report that nearly 50% of the population has experienced shoulder pain in the past year.

But just because shoulder pain is so common, doesn’t mean you have to live with it and accept it as “a part of life.” Having shoulder pain is something you can recover from!

You’re much more stronger and resilient than you may think. You will get through this and conquer your shoulder pain. You won’t live with shoulder issues for the rest of your life. You may just need some professional assistance and guidance along the way. And that’s the purpose of this guide. To help you along your journey of overcoming your current shoulder pain complaints and getting you back to the life you want and deserve.

2. Common Causes of Shoulder Pain.

Before we get into the common causes of shoulder pain, let us reiterate something: you’re not alone. Nearly two-thirds of the population will experience some sort of shoulder pain in their life. But guess what? Not everyone lives with this pain forever! And you don’t have to either.

When you take the correct approach, you can definitely overcome your pain. And you may just overcome it faster than you ever imagined.

Now, you may have heard a list of things that can cause shoulder pain from your friends, your doctor, or even on “doctor” Google. But when it comes down to it, having poor movement patterns is the cause of most shoulder problems (and most muscle and joint related problems, for that matter). This is why we take a movement-based approach to helping our patients overcome their complaints.

3. Why Does How You Move Matter?

Unfortunately, most physical medicine providers (physical therapists and chiropractors) only assess and treat the site of pain (your shoulder) instead of actually finding the true causes of the pain. If they’re lucky, the site of pain is the true cause, but this is rarely the case. This is because most muscluloskeletal pain is related to a movement problem. And a movement problem requires a movement-based solution.

So instead of guessing what the problem is and solely treating the site of pain like most providers do, it’s important to take a step back and look at the greater picture: how you move.

For example, maybe your thoracic spine is stiff and doesn’t move well, leading to your improper shoulder movement. Whatever the case, it’s important to look at the entire body and how it moves because everything in our body is connected and affects its neighboring parts.

Enter the Joint-By-Joint Model.

The Joint-By-Joint Model was created by Gray Cook and Mike Boyle and is a very straightforward way of looking at how movement affects the entire body.

Keep in mind, this model is a very generalized approach, but it does a fantastic job of providing a visual of how the human body functions as a whole.

Take a look at the image above. As you can see, there are areas of the body that should move more (have more mobility), and areas of the body that should move less (have more stability). You may also note that each joint alternates in a sequence of mobility:stability.

Now that you have a great visual of how our body should function, and the role of each of our joints, let’s look back to our example we provided above where shoulder pain may be a result of overcompensating for its neighboring parts.

As you can see in the model, the shoulder joint should be mobile and the thoracic spine should be relatively mobile as well. But if the thoracic spine becomes stiff and less mobile, then something has to make up for it’s lack of movement. Often times, it’s the shoulder that takes on too much stress and load, leading to shoulder complaints. There are other scenarios that may play out as well. For example, many times the shoulder blade (which should be stable), loses its ability to stabilize. And when the shoulder blade loses its ability to properly stabilize, the shoulder joint is often put in vulnerable positions that can lead to pain and injury.

As you can imagine, the human body is amazing at compensating and adapting. But unfortunately when parts of our body start taking on too much stress and are overworked and overloaded, things like pain and injury may occur. Even if pain isn’t present currently, your optimal human functioning is still hindered by these movement compensations.

Hopefully you’re starting to understand why movement matters and why you shouldn’t just treat the site of pain!

4. Breaking The Pain Cycle.

The key to overcoming your shoulder pain starts with breaking the pain cycle early and often.

What does that mean? Let’s explain.

Pain is simply a warning sign from the brain telling your body that something is wrong. Think of pain as an alarm. This alarm warns your body of danger (or potential danger) and is asking for a fix.

But when you don’t fix what’s wrong and continually perform movements that cause your pain, this alarm starts going off more frequently. And eventually if you start ignoring the alarm, it stays on all of the time.

So how do you break the pain cycle?

Initially, you have to avoid movements that are causing your pain. When you start experiencing less pain, you interrupt the pain cycle and your body’s alarm returns to normal. It’s that simple once you identify the movements that are contributing to your pain.

5. Find Out What Movements Cause Your Pain.

Finding out which movements cause your shoulder pain is a huge step for formulating a game plan to overcome your pain and breaking the pain cycle. Remember, this is the first step in breaking the pain cycle and it can’t be skipped. The earlier you start identifying painful movements that aggravate your shoulder, and the more consistent you are at avoiding them, the better.

Finding out which movements aggravate your shoulder is a very important step in our history taking process and within our initial examination. While it can definitely be done on your own, having professional help speeds up the process significantly.

While you’re identifying movements that are painful, it’s also important to note which movements aren’t painful. Pain-free movements provide us with fantastic information as well and allow you to keep moving throughout the recovery process in a pain-free manner. They also allow you to continue training in the gym throughout the process in a pain-free manner!

6. Find Out What Movements Are Pain-Free.

Finding out what movements don’t aggravate your symptoms and cause pain is crucial. These movements are what will keep you active throughout your rehab and recovery process.

Now, these don’t have to be shoulder specific movements. In fact, we encourage you to play around with movements that don’t involve the shoulder!

Think back to the Joint-By-Joint Approach we talked about above. Instead of continually stretching your shoulder because it temporarily feels better, how about you start working on your thoracic spine mobility and/or shoulder blade stability?

If you’re not sure what exercises and movements to try, that’s what we’re here for! We take the guess-work out of the entire rehab process, which often results in time and money saved.

 7. Create Your Game Plan.

Now that you have an understanding of why movement matters and what movements to avoid in your rehab process, it’s important to make a plan.

And it’s even more important to stick to the plan you’ve created! Rehab is a process, so don’t expect your shoulder pain to resolve in a week’s time.

There are a ton of different ways you can treat your shoulder pain, including massage therapy, acupuncture, and other techniques, but unfortunately these are just temporary relief techniques. There’s nothing wrong with them, and they’re fantastic tools, but they’re not fixing your movement problems.

The best and most researched way of overcoming shoulder pain is through exercise and staying physically active. This is where the true “magic” happens and makes long-term changes in your movement and musculoskeletal health.

It’s important to realize that your game plan and rehab process may have ups and downs (good days and bad days). This is a totally normal part of healing and overcoming your shoulder pain, but it’s important to take note of what may have aggravated your shoulder symptoms. It could have been something you did the day prior or something you did the day of. Either way, it’s important to continually reassess how you’re feeling and make changes as necessary.

Your game plan should include specific exercises that are prescribed from your physical therapist or chiropractor to provide pain-relief, improve your mobility, improve your stability, or a combination of all the above. These exercises are very important to perform, but it’s equally important to make modifications to your daily lifestyle as needed (like avoiding certain movements the cause pain as we talked about earlier).

Let’s address some common questions we hear about shoulder pain treatment:

“Should I be stretching my shoulder?”

This is a tricky one! Because some types of shoulder pain respond well to stretching and mobility work. And other types of shoulder pain are actually made worse by stretching. It all depends on what your individual limitations and causes of your pain are.


So why could stretching your shoulder not be the best solution? Well, believe it or not, your shoulder muscles are likely tight for a reason. But just because they’re tight, doesn’t mean that they need stretched. In fact, these muscles could be tight because they’re guarding your shoulder joint and providing it with a sense of stability and safeness. If you stretch these tight muscles, you take that stability away and may cause your symptoms to flare-up again!

If you feel that stretching your shoulder only provides you with temporarily relief for 10-15 minutes, then this may be the case for you. So instead of continually stretching your shoulder, you may benefit from trying some sort of strengthening/stability exercise for both your shoulder joint and the shoulder blade. Additionally, you may benefit from some sort of thoracic spine mobility exercise.

Instead of stretching your lower back, we recommend looking back at the Joint-By-Joint Model above and providing your lower back with some sort of pain-free and gentle movement to provide it with more stability. Additionally, you may work on mobilizing your thoracic spine and hip joints to improve their mobility.

“Should I get a massage?”

Absolutely! Massages feel amazing. Who doesn’t love a gentle, relaxing massage? Getting a massage is a great idea to help you relax. But like we mentioned before, it’s not a long-term fix because it’s not getting to the root causes of your problem: your movement.

If you find yourself continually going to your massage therapist for low back pain relief, it’s time to dig deeper to find out the true causes of your problem. And we’re here to help you do just that!

“Should I ice my shoulder?”

In general, our recommendation is to actually utilize heat instead. We’re not sure about you, but usually cold tends to tighten up muscles even more. And if your muscles are already tight and stiff, this may just contribute to the tightness and stiffness.

On the other hand, heat tends to relax your muscles and make you feel more loose. But if that’s not the case for you, then utilize what works! Everyone is slightly different, but heat tends to be our go-to recommendation for shoulder pain. But just remember, utilizing heat is not the long-term solution!

If you continue to find yourself utilizing heat (or ice) for your shoulder pain, then something isn’t working. If this is you, we highly recommend you dig deeper into finding out the root causes of your pain. Remember, we’re here to help you with this!

“What about PRP and/or stem cell injections?”

While both PRP and stem cell injections can be beneficial, they’re not very beneficial on they’re own. We like to explain to our patients that PRP and stem cell injections provide your tissues with the ingredients they need to heal, but not the instructions. What do we mean? Well, tissue healing and remodeling happens through a process called mechanotransduction. Simply put, this is the process of your cells responding and adapting to mechanical force, such as the force provided by specific rehab exercises.

Essentially, the specific rehab exercises are the “instructions” that start the mechanotransduction process.

So providing your tissues with the ingredients to speed up the healing process through PRP and/or stem cell injections is pointless if you don’t change your movement habits and provide your tissues with instructions/stimuli to change and remodel (rehab exercises).

With all this being said, we won’t leave you without a generalized game plan.

So what should you do?

First, you need to remove the movements/activities that are causing your pain. Secondly, you need exercises that are prescribed for your individual movement limitations to help you improve your mobility and stability limitations. Thirdly, you need advice on which movements and activities to modify or regress so you can stay active and moving throughout your rehab process. Finally, you need a rehab professional like ourselves to help guide you along the way, provide you with pain-relieving manual therapies, continually modify your exercises, and set you on your way for living independently.

8. What To Expect From Us.

We’re here for you along your entire rehab journey.

From the moment you walk through our office door for your initial assessment, you’ll be with us one-on-one for at least an hour. This hour will allow us to thoroughly gather a solid medical history, create personalized goals, and assess your lower back pain through a detailed movement and physical assessment.

Following the history and physical assessment, we’ll educate you on the causes of your shoulder pain and formulate a game plan to get you back to living an active, pain-free lifestyle.

We’ll also provide you with an estimated number of visits (and a time frame) for you to completely resolve your shoulder pain. This will include the number of visits you need per week, which is typically never more than 1-2 times per week.

Your treatment and care will be individualized to your personal goals, wants, and needs. Often, this looks like a mixture of hands-on manual therapies, stretching, joint mobilizations and adjustments, and of course, corrective exercises.

Following your initial visit with us, you can expect 30 minute or 60 minute one-on-one follow-ups with us. Spending this amount of time with us in an intimate, one-on-one setting is how we get the results and outcomes you’re looking for.

If you aren’t sure if we’re a great fit for you, then reach out to us!

We offer all our potential patients the option to have a free phone consultation with us to make sure we’re a great fit to work together.

9. What We Expect From You.

If you’re reading this, we hope you’re already our ideal patient, especially if you’ve made it this far through the guide.

We expect all of our patients to be invested in their health. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, you need to prioritize your health above all things. We can only do so much as your healthcare and rehab provider to help you overcome your shoulder pain.

To get the most out of your rehab (and actually achieve your goals), you have to be invested fully in the rehab process as well. We must work as a team and you must hold your own with your at-home homework and lifestyle modifications. After all, there are 168 hours in a week and you will only be spending 1-2 hours with us each week.

That’s only 0.6-1.2% of your weekly time spent with us!

As you can see, you have to put in the work. You can’t expect us to “magically” fix you. You must be invested in the process. And if you’ve had your shoulder pain for months or years, you must not expect it to magically disappear after 1-3 visits. It’s just not plausible for a long-term strategy.

10. Will I Need Diagnostic Imaging?

Believe it or not, diagnostic imaging is overutilized in the physical medicine field. All too often people are running straight to their medical doctor for an MRI for their shoulder pain. Unfortunately, all they’re doing is wasting their time and money.

Instead, your best bet is to see a physical therapist or chiropractor first. They’ll be the one to decide whether or not you’d benefit from having imaging performed based upon the results of your physical examination and history.

In most cases, you won’t need any diagnostic imaging. But if things aren’t adding up in your physical exam, then we may send you out for further imaging and testing.

Here’s when we think it’s a good time to have diagnostic imaging performed:

  • If there are any red flags found in the physical exam.
  • If a solid trial of conservative care has been performed without much success and we feel we need more information.
  • If things just don’t add up in your first visit.

11. Finding A Good Doctor/Therapist.

You should look for a few things when trying to find the right healthcare provider for you. Especially a rehab provider to help you overcome your shoulder pain.

These are the qualities we possess ourselves and feel that all healthcare providers should possess as well.

  • They should spend plenty of time with you to find a solution.
  • They focus on your concerns, priorities, and goals.
  • They actually perform physical tests.
  • They allow you to be independent.
  • They find ways to keep you active and moving.
  • They continually progress and modify your rehab game plan as you improve.

Schedule Appointment

If you're ready to eliminate your pain and get back to the active lifestyle you want, schedule your initial appointment online. We'll provide you with the help, knowledge, and tools you need to overcome your complaints and do anything you love, better.

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If you want to discuss your health concerns before scheduling, book a free 20-minute consult at our office. We'll give recommendations and guidance, as well as the next best steps to allow you to address your health concerns.

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Address: 3420 W Main St, Tampa, FL 33607

Phone: (813) 563-7301


Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain

If you are struggling with shoulder aches and pains or recurring shoulder injuries, then this article is for you. When it comes to being strong at the push and pull movement patterns such as the bench press, pull-up, push-up, dumbbell row, or any other movement that involves the shoulders, it is imperative to have adequate shoulder mobility and strength.

Many people injure their shoulders with the above listed movements. And it is not because the movements are “bad” exercises. It is because these people are not prepared for the exercises they are performing. Their muscles and joints are not prepared for the exercise, or the combination of exercises at hand.

  • Injury = demands placed on tissues > tissue capacity
  • Rehab = demands placed on tissues < or = tissue capacity
  • Prevention = tissue capacity >> demands placed on tissues

Taking a quick look at the above equations should really shed light on how injuries and aches/pains occur. However, just “getting strong” and building tissue capacity is not enough. You must train smart and through your entire ranges of motion. You cannot just get strong in one part of your range of motion and expect to be strong in other parts of that range. That is just not how our body works. Strength is angle specific.

So to really mitigate your chance of injury, you must make sure you have full ranges of motion in your joints. Secondly, you must create strength, control, and stability throughout all of those ranges of motions. This is the recipe for bulletproofing your shoulders and overcoming your shoulder pain.

Here are 5 of our favorite shoulder exercises for combatting achy and painful shoulders, especially stubborn anterior shoulder pain.

1. Sleeper Stretch for Shoulder Internal Rotation

Shoulder internal rotation is the most common shoulder joint range of motion lost. Normal range of motion for shoulder internal rotation is 70-90 degrees. Having a lack of this internal rotation range of motion puts your shoulder at a greater risk for injury. This range of motion is necessary for various movements and without it, compensations often occur throughout the shoulder girdle. Most commonly seen is tipping/dumping of the shoulder blade forwards, compromising the anterior structures of the shoulder joint. This is especially true in vertical pulling exercises such as the barbell clean.

PRO TIP: The sleeper stretch is often criticized, but when executed properly and safely, it is a phenomenal exercise to normalize shoulder internal rotation. Do not push through pain or pinching with this exercise. You should only feel a deep stretch on the outer part and back part of your shoulder.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds 3-4 days/week. This is a safe exercise to perform in your warm-ups prior to upper body pushing or pulling days.

2. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder External Rotations

Those with anterior shoulder pain often have “weak” or under-trained shoulder external rotators. Relatively speaking, most training programs do not implement much (or any) accessory training exercises for the shoulders. They target the large prime movers of the shoulders, but neglect the smaller shoulder stabilizers, especially the shoulder external rotators (the teres minor and infraspinatus). Seated dumbbell shoulder external rotations are a fantastic way to isolate these muscles and build strength and endurance. Go light with this exercise and do not use momentum to power through this exercise.

PRO TIP: Keep your elbow that is resting on your knee slightly lower than shoulder height. Do not push into any pain or pinching at any time during this exercise. Additionally, you can slowly lower the dumbbell to work on eccentrically stretching the posterior shoulder to improve shoulder internal rotation range of motion. At no time during this exercise should your shoulder blade tip/dump forwards (keep your shoulder blade stable and immobile).

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 rounds of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This exercise is safe to perform in your warm-up, during rest breaks in betweens sets/exercises, or on its own.

3. Banded Face-Pulls

The banded face-pull combats that nasty posture we all exhibit throughout the day, especially those of us that work desk jobs: internally rotated, adducted, and protracted shoulders with an overly flexed thoracic spine. By working the upper back and posterior shoulder with the banded face-pull, you are working on maintaining an upright/extended spine, while pulling your shoulders into external rotation, horizontal abduction, and retraction. As with all exercises, you should feel no pain or pinching with this.

PRO TIP: While pulling the band towards your face, also think about pulling the band apart horizontally. Keep your elbows high throughout and really focus on hammering your posterior shoulder and upper back. Go light with these. Again, we are working accessory movements and shoulder joint stabilizers, so we are training for endurance with this exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. This is a fantastic exercise to implement into your warm-ups to prep your shoulders for upper body days, or to superset with a heavy pushing exercise.

4. Band Pull-Aparts

Banded pull-aparts again are a great exercise to hammer the posterior shoulder and upper back musculature. They again help reverse that poor posture we all unfortunately exhibit by training shoulder external rotation, horizontal abduction, and scapular retraction. Hold on to the band in a supinated grip (palm facing upwards) to really target shoulder external rotation. From here, you can vary your grip width to make the exercise easier or harder. Pull the band apart only until it taps your chest. Slowly and controllably return to the starting position.

PRO TIP: Keep tension in the band at all times. Perform these slowly or you are short-changing yourself. There is no need to pull your arms back farther behind your back, just tap the band to your chest.

PROGRAMMING: 4-5 sets of 15-20 repetitions, 3-4 days/week. Like the banded face-pull, this is a fantastic exercise to utilize in your warm-ups or to superset with heavy pushing exercises.

5. Kettlebell Arm-Bar

The kettlebell arm-bar is fantastic for improving shoulder joint stability, especially reactive stability due to the offset weighted nature of the kettlebell. This exercise really works on maintaining shoulder joint centration (joint alignment/spacing from optimal co-contraction of all the shoulder joint stabilizer muscles). Once holding the kettlebell in this position becomes easier and more second-nature, you can add in axial shoulder joint rotations to further challenge your shoulder joint reactive stability.

PRO TIP: Do not go too heavy with this exercise. This is a common fault we see and contradicts the purpose of the exercise. Remember, we are training reactive stability and endurance of the shoulder joint, not brute strength.

PROGRAMMING: 3-4 sets of 5-6 repetitions, holding each repetition for 15-30 seconds. Perform 3-4 days/week. This is fantastic for prepping the shoulders in your warm-ups or performing it on its own.

There you have it! 5 of our favorite exercises to combat painful and achy shoulders.

As always, we do not recommend you taking this information as medical advice. Always consult with your doctor before implementing strengthening exercises or starting a training program. For optimal results, we recommend consulting with a qualified physical therapist or chiropractor who understands human movement and strength training. This is because musculoskeletal pain requires a thorough physical/movement-based assessment to identify your individual limitations and needs before specific rehab exercises are prescribed.

Frustrated with your painful or achy shoulders and have tried these exercises without much success? Reach out to us for help! We can even help find you a qualified healthcare professional to help you in your area.

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Top 5 Shoulder Mobility Exercises

Poor shoulder mobility is one of the most common mobility restrictions we see, second to poor hip mobility. While shoulder mobility is definitely of utmost importance for overhead athletes and overhead lifting, it is also extremely important for the everyday person. In fact, a lack of shoulder mobility can lead to issues up and down the kinetic chain, in particularly neck and mid-back pain.

Unfortunately, we see far too many athletes, weekend warriors, and everyday gym-goers waste their precious time foam rolling and performing drills that only result in temporary neurological changes in their shoulder mobility. We do not want temporary changes. We want long-term changes. Changes that translate into our everyday lives and improve our performance and lifting. Thus, the exercises we perform should provide these benefits.

If you want these long-term changes that translate into improved long-term mobility, performance, and pain-relief, the exercises should be active in nature. These 5 shoulder mobility exercises are active mobility exercises that will take you to the next level.

1. Shoulder Internal Rotation Sleeper Stretch

The sleeper stretch has been around for quite some time and is often demonized by some healthcare and rehab professionals for its “safeness” and effectiveness. However, with the proper set-up and execution of the exercise, the sleeper stretch is an extremely safe shoulder mobility exercise to utilize to improve the mobility of your posterior shoulder joint capsule. The sleeper stretch will not only improve your shoulder internal rotation, but will also improve your overhead mobility (shoulder flexion).

If you lack of shoulder flexion, and also lack shoulder internal rotation, this is the place to start. Work on improving your shoulder joint capsule mobility and your overhead positioning often clears up.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching with this stretch. You should feel the stretch in the posterolateral part of your shoulder. You should not feel anything in the front of your shoulder. The isometric contractions within this exercise are the game-changer and provide strength in your newly acquired range of motion. These isometric contractions provide the long-term changes in your shoulder internal rotation mobility.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions per side, 3-4 days/week

2. Shoulder External Rotation Americana Stretch

The Americana stretch, like the sleeper stretch, is one that you must execute safely and properly to get the benefits you are looking for. When done properly, it is one of our favorite drills to improve shoulder external rotation by working on the anterior shoulder joint capsule.

Again, if you have a lack of shoulder flexion and external rotation mobility, then this is the place for you to start. Target the shoulder joint capsule and overhead positioning often improves.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching with this stretch. You should feel a stretch in the anterior shoulder. You should not feel any pain or pinching in the back of your shoulder joint. As with the sleeper stretch, the isometric contractions are the game-changer to improve your shoulder mobility for the long-term.

PROGRAMMING: 2-3 repetitions, 3-4 days/week

3. Elevated Prayer Stretch on Bench

The elevated prayer stretch on a weight bench works shoulder flexion mobility while simultaneously improving thoracic extension mobility. Both are pivotal for shoulder mobility and shoulder joint health for the overhead athlete, weightlifter, and everyday person.

PRO TIP: Do not push into any pain or pinching in the back of the shoulder or even in the spine. Really use your thoracic spine paraspinals (the muscles along your upper back) to pull yourself into extension. Do not shove or jut your neck forwards, keep it in line with the rest of your spine.

PROGRAMMING: 12-15 repetitions, holding at the bottom for 2-3 seconds, 3-4 days/week

4. Scapular Joint Circles

Abnormal scapular rhythm, or a lack of scapular control altogether can greatly affect your shoulder mobility. In fact, too many people still adhere to the “keep your shoulder blades down & back” myth that is plaguing the fitness world. Your shoulder blades HAVE TO MOVE and upwardly rotate for you to achieve full shoulder flexion that is pain-free. Working on controlling your scapulae by rotating them around your ribcage in open and closed-chain positions will help you get some movement and motor control back into your scapulae.

PRO TIP: Make sure you are only moving your scapulae around on your ribcage. Do not substitute thoracic spine flexion for shoulder blade protraction. Also, keep your elbows locked out/straight during the entire exercise.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 joint circles in each direction in both open & closed-chain positions, 5-6 days/week

5. Shoulder Joint Circles

Ever wonder why you have to stretch to regain ranges of motion in the first place? Likely because you “overuse” one part of your range of motion and “underutilize” the opposing ranges of motion. For example, we often take our hands in front of us and overhead (shoulder flexion), but when is the last time you took your heads to your sides and reached straight back and upwards as far as you could (shoulder extension)? If you have not used your shoulder extension range of motion in 6 months, 5 years, or 20+ years, why would you expect to still have that range of motion?

Shoulder joint circles are a great way to not only maintain your shoulder joint ranges of motion, but also work on expanding and strengthening the outer limits of those ranges.

PRO TIP: This is something that should be done daily to remind your brain and body that you have access to all of these ranges of motion. If you do not use them, you lose them. Make sure you are not just haphazardly going through the motions; create tension throughout your entire arm and fight through your ranges of motion.

PROGRAMMING: 10-12 joint circles in each direction, 5-6 days/week

6. BONUS: Supine Kettlebell Pullover

The supine kettlebell pullover is one of our favorite shoulder mobility exercises for a couple reasons: 1) the movement is an eccentric-dominant one that really elongates the tissues while simultaneously building strength & mobility and 2) it incorporates core strength/stability and really hammers the core-shoulder-connection in the overhead position.

PRO TIP: Perform the kettlebell pullover with a properly pressurized and braced core. Slowly pull the bell over your head as far back as you can, stopping before your back starts to arch off of the ground. Each eccentric pullover should be at least 3-5 seconds in duration.

PROGRAMMING: 5-10 repetitions, 3-4 days/week

And there you have it, 6 of our top favorite shoulder mobility exercises.

As always, if you continue to have trouble improving your shoulder mobility after diligently utilizing these exercises, then reach out to a qualified healthcare professional who understands movement, mobility, and strength training. Again, none of these exercises should cause any pain at anytime. If you need help finding a local physical therapist or chiropractor, or you want to schedule an online consultation with us, send us an email. We are happy to help!

Shoulder Extension End Range Strengthening

Shoulder Extension End Range Strengthening


Shoulder extension is an often neglected range of motion when it comes to shoulder health.

Probably because in today’s world we don’t do much that involves us needing to take our shoulders into extension. But that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Shoulder extension is largely important for overall shoulder health.

Many times, our patients have plenty of shoulder extension range of motion, but aren’t able to control it. We’ll check their passive range of motion and then at their end range, say “hold this right here.” And guess what? The majority of people lose a lot of that range.

This exercise is a great way to strengthen your shoulder extension end range of motion. If you have the passive range, you better have control and strength over it!

Shoulder Flexion End Range Strengthening

Shoulder Flexion End Range Strengthening


Do you want to bulletproof your shoulders?

If yes, then this is a great exercise to work on creating strength at your end range of motion in shoulder flexion!

It’s also a great way to work on shoulder flexion while minimizing compensations from occuring in your mid-lower back.

Assume a child’s pose/lumbar-locked position. This position puts your lower back into flexion, preventing you from being able to extend through the lower back to compensate. Reach your arms straight out overhead, keeping your elbows locked out. From here, trap air in your belly, create full-body tension, and attempt to lift your hands about 1 inch off of the ground. Hold this for 3-5 seconds and repeat for 5-10 reps.

Too easy? Were you able to lift more than 1 inch off of the ground? Then try elevating your hands off of the ground by placing an object such as a yoga block under them.

Shoulder Flexion Mobility

Shoulder Flexion Mobility


Building yet again off of our last two posts!

If you want to work on shoulder flexion mobility, you better first have assessed your shoulder joint capsule. AKA, do you have normal internal and external range of motion at the shoulder? If no, then that’s your starting point. Review our last few posts to get caught up!

But who’s to say you can’t simultaneously work on shoulder flexion? That’s the purpose of today’s post. This exercise is an amazing exercise to work on alongside restoring your shoulders’ rotational capabilities.

Really focus on feeling a stretch in your lats/armppit area. You shouldn’t feel any pinching on the back side of your shoulders at any time during this exercise. The only thing you should feel on the back side of your shoulders are your muscles contracting to try and pull your arms farther into shoulder flexion.


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