Shoulder Flexibility & Mobility

Shoulder flexibility is essentially being able to lift your arm above your head however many people suffer from not being able to do this without some sort of discomfort because of a variety of reasons, particularly amongst people who lift weights. If you have inflexible shoulders, it can negatively impact a whole host of exercises from the obvious bench press but even the squat, the reason as to why a lot of weight lifter suffer from poor shoulder mobility is because of the fact that a lot of people tend to use bad form when doing exercises.

However, it can be quite an easy task to improve your shoulder flexibility, one of the reasons as to why a lot of people who go the gym suffer from these problems is because of the fact that they focus on more pushing exercises such as the bench press but neglect training their back muscles.

Some things that you can do for your shoulder flexibility include wall extensions, and an exercise called around the world. For the wall extensions, make sure that your back and heels are against a flat wall, put your arms flat against the wall so that your palms are facing away from the wall and put your arms at a 90 degree angle. Slowly lift your arms above your head whilst keeping your palms faced away from the wall and maintaining the position of your forearms against the wall.

If you want to do the around the wall exercise, lay flat on your back with some light dumbbells in each hand with your palms facing the ceiling with your arms by your sides and your elbows bent slightly. Move the dumbbells to create a semi-circle shape so that they end up above your head, your arms should be parallel to the floor throughout the whole movement and it is crucial to do the exercise in a controlled manner.

It’s difficult to say a specific one thing that is impacting upon shoulder mobility. The more common issues include tight muscles (usually the pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, teres major, subscapularis, and rhomboids), bone-on-bone impingements, improper shoulder blade movement (scapular dyskinesis), or poor thoracic spine mobility, and all can contribute to limiting the shoulder’s range of motion. Particularly, we often see a limitation around rotator cuff mobility, which can be improved through specific resistance training and mobility exercises.

While it’s difficult to provide a precise diagnosis and suitable solution to the problem within this article, we suggest specific mobility drills that can help relieve you of poor shoulder flexibility and mobility. Try adding the suggestions in this article to your upper-body warm-up routine!


  1. Around the World Shoulder Exercise – YouTube. 2015. Around the World Shoulder Exercise – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 July 2015].
  2. Paradiso CrossFit – Wall Extensions – YouTube. 2015. Paradiso CrossFit – Wall Extensions – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 July 2015].
  3. Rotator Cuff Workout – Rotator Cuff Exercises for Injury Prevention – YouTube. 2015. Rotator Cuff Workout – Rotator Cuff Exercises for Injury Prevention – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 09 July 2015].