Top 5 Shoulder Stretches You Need

Reminder- You can perform each stretch statically, dynamically, and isometrically. Variety is key in functional fitness, so make sure you employ a variety of different ways in which you hold and perform each stretch. Although these are some of the best shoulder stretches available, there are many more that you should also employ. Static holds are best held for a minimum of 30 seconds, and remember to breathe and listen to your body first and foremost. Always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program.


1. Dive Bomber Shoulder Stretch

To do the dive bomber shoulder stretch- Stand up, then clasp your hands behind your back near the glutes. With the hands clasped, lift the hands away from the glutes as you fold forward. The hands will stick up into the air and can even reach up and over the head if your shoulders are open enough. From here, move side to side to stretch different insertion and attachment points of the various muscle groups in and around the shoulders. If you have trouble getting the hands to clasp, you can use a strap or belt to keep the hands together. It is important to do this stretch with the right pointer finger on top of the left, and then switch it and take left over right so that the shoulders, wrists, and hands are evenly stretched.

2.  Cow-Face (Ardha Gomukhasana) Shoulder Stretch

This shoulder stretch can be done seated or standing. Find a comfortable position for you, and then take one hand behind your back near the glutes, bend the elbow and crawl that hand up the back between the shoulder blades. Take the other hand up over the head, bend the elbow and then crawl that hand down between the shoulder blades. Get the fingertips to touch and then interlace the fingers. Once here, move the spine in variety of directions and gently move the shoulders every possible direction. As with the dive bomber shoulder stretch, if you need a strap or belt to get the hands together, use one. Make sure to do both sides.

3. Eagle Arms (Ardha Garudasana) Shoulder Stretch

The simplest version of this stretch is to wrap one arm on top of the other and give yourself a big hug. Hug yourself with one arm on top, then switch and have the other arm on top. If you feel ready to do more, then proceed to eagle arms. To achieve the eagle arms, straighten both arms out, then cross one arm on top of the other getting the elbows past each other. Once there, bend the elbows 90 degrees until the backs of the hands touch. You may stay here if this is intense, or if your body still has space to move, then wrap the hand of the arm that is on top in front of the bottom arms hand. Once here, make circles, windshield wiper movements, and attempt to straight the arms again while keeping the wrap. Do both sides.

4. Straight Jacket Shoulder Stretch

Sit down, bend your knees halfway and set your feet flat on the floor about two feet in front of you. From here, give a thumbs up with both hands, then turn the thumbs down to internally rotate the humerus. Spread all of the fingers wide, then bend the elbows and tuck the backs of each hand alongside your ribcage on either side. Begin drawing the knees towards each other and hook the inner elbows inside of the knees. Continue to draw the knees towards each other until your flexibility is limiting. Eventually, we want to get the elbows to touch together in front of the chest. Be careful not to press too hard, and always stay within your limits.

5. Prone Shoulder Roll

Lay down on your belly, and extend one arm straight out to the side, perpendicular to the body. You can choose to bend the elbow or not, and you should also try working with different angles of the arm away from the body to stretch different shoulder musculature. Once you have found a satisfactory arm position, keep the front of the shoulder on the earth, and kick the leg opposite that arm over the body like a scorpions tail towards the hand of the arm being stretched. For example, if your right arm is extended, you will kick the left leg foot up and over the body towards the right hand. This should provide a deep stretch in the shoulder, chest and neck. Do both sides, and then play with different angles and keeping the arm straight vs. bent. 

Good luck,

-Andrew Morris