My Top 3 Shoulder Mobility Drills

The importance of having great shoulder mobility is far reaching.  Lack of shoulder mobility can have an affect on the neck, elbow/wrist, upper back and even the lower back.  For athletes, lack of shoulder mobility can even have an effect on the lower body where the lower body may have to go into larger ranges of motion to compensate for lack of motion higher up at the shoulder.

Here are My Top 3 Favorite Shoulder Mobility Drills.

1. Bench T-spine Mobilizations

Key Points:

-Place elbows shoulder width apart on a bench.

-Keep low back flat, don’t arch or excessively round through low back.

-Sit hips back towards heels and then bend elbows.

-Stretch should be felt in the triceps, lats, or upper back.  No pain or pinching in the shoulder.

Now, by the name of this, it technically isn’t a shoulder mobility drill.  It is a thoracic spine mobility drill. But, the areas that you are targeting either directly affect the shoulder due to the muscles that cross it or indirectly by addressing thoracic spine extension.

The two muscular areas that the Bench T-spine Mobilization address are:

Latissimus Dorsi

Long Head of Tricep

lat and long head of tri.jpg

The Bench T-spine Mobilization also addresses thoracic spine extension as well.  All 3, the lats, triceps, and thoracic spine all directly or indirectly affect the shoulder and how it can function and perform.  

If someone presents with limited shoulder mobility into shoulder flexion or shoulder flexion with elbow flexion, I will superset this into their program or place it in their warm up for 10 reps x 10 sec hold.

2. Sidelying Rib Roll
Just as the ability to flex and extend through the thoracic spine is important, the thoracic spine also rotates and it is very important to be able to rotate through the thoracic spine.  For day to day life, rotation is needed, but for the majority of athletes in sport, rotation is key for power transfer and sports performance.

Limited thoracic spine rotation can affect performance, but also delegate increased stress to the shoulders, low back, etc.

To address thoracic spine extension and rotation, I like to use the Sidelying Rib Roll.

Sidelying Rib Roll

Key Points:

-Lie on your side with your top knee above hip height and resting on a foam roller/ball.

-Grasp knee with bottom arm hand.

-Grab underneath rib cage with top arm hand.

-Use hand to pull and rotate as shown in the video.

-When you hit a sticking point, take a deep breath in, breathe out and continue to rotate.

-Hold for 10 seconds x 10 reps ea. Side.

Then repeat on the opposite side.  I will either place this in a warm-up or superset it in during a training session.

3. Modified All Fours Belly Lift with Press Off

Key Points:

-Start on your hands and knees.

-Press the ground away from you.

-Do not round the entire back over.

-As you bring your hips up into the air, think of pressing the ground away from you.

I don’t typically think of the Modified All Fours Belly Lift with Press Off as a mobility drill, but some see it as that.  It is quite similar to the Downward Dog pose in yoga.

I like using this drill to train the body to get into overhead ranges of motion as well as training the body to control these new ranges of motion.

One of the main key points when performing this is to not just think of bringing your hips up into the air and feeling a hamstring/calf stretch.  You want to make sure you are keeping your back in a flat position and actively pushing the ground away from you.

There are My Top 3 Shoulder Mobility Drills.  They may not seem like shoulder mobility drills from first glance, but they either address muscles that cross the shoulder or address the thoracic spine, which is a major player when it comes to shoulder health.

If you are dealing with limited shoulder mobility or pain, try giving these a try!

Andrew Millett