Effectively Improve Shoulder Mobility for Both Long-Term and Short-Term Relief

Did you know that shoulder mobility decreases as you get older? From the age of 55, the average person will see a drop of six degrees in shoulder flexibility every decade. For many people, its issues start long before then — but they don’t have to! With the right approach, you can effectively improve it to reduce discomfort today and prevent future issues.

Shoulder mobility is essential for everyday activities, but it’s also important for preventing sports injuries. If you’re experiencing pain or stiffness, it’s important to seek pain management to prevent further injury. One of the best things that you can do is to create a long-term sustainable approach to shoulder health. To help you get started, let’s look at the fundamentals of shoulder flexibility and mobility.

Visit our sports injury clinic if you are seeking treatment for various injuries due to sports or overexertion.

Shoulder Flexibility vs Mobility

Before we dive into the best ways to safely and effectively improve it, let’s define a few fundamental concepts. While flexibility and mobility are often viewed as interchangeable, they are actually two different concepts.

When your shoulder is flexible, it’s able to lengthen passively. Mobility, on the other hand, is the ability to move with control. Flexibility is one component of mobility but it doesn’t describe the entire idea. Mobility is the movability of your shoulder, while flexibility is the elasticity of your muscles. Mobility is what gives you control over your muscles and joints. This control is paramount because it’s what prevents injuries.

What Causes a Lack of Mobility in the Shoulder?

Wondering why you’re experiencing shoulder pain? There are three core causes.

  • Inactivity: Having a sedentary lifestyle has head-to-toe consequences and inactivity is one of the most common causes. Without movement, your muscles get tight. Over time, you have less stability in your joints and your mobility continues to drop over time.
  • Bad posture: When you sit or stand with bad posture, you can create internal rotation. This is why it is important to pay attention to your posture when you’re working in the office or at home to also prevent lower back pains. Your humerus bone may shift and cause a displacement in your socket. This can escalate to impingement, which causes your shoulders to rub or catch on tissue and/or bone when you lift your arm.
  • Instability: For athletes who build on shoulder muscle more than others, like baseball or cricket players, instability is common. This happens because your shoulders has unequal forces acting on either side. Bad form during workout sessions like deadlifting can also cause an internal rotation that leads to muscle imbalance.

Why Is Shoulder Mobility Important?

One of the core reasons why doctors worry about it is because it increases your risk of injury. When you have immobility, you also lack strength, coordination, and stability.

During workout sessions, a lack of mobility can cause you to make incorrect and dangerous movements. This is why fitness experts stress the importance of it as you are building muscles.

And, it’s not just a concern for serious athletes. During every moment, a lack of mobility creates excess stress on other muscles and joints. This means that you are continually more prone to injuries such as shoulder dislocation or rotator cuff tears.

It is important to understand that doctors take it seriously because it can be a sign of something more, even if you yourself consider it a minor injury. When you have serious mobility issues, there is a good chance that you have muscular imbalances or poor postural alignment.

How Do You Test for Shoulder Mobility?

So, how do you know if you’re having issues? If you think there may be an issue, the first step is to see a specialist. There are three tests for that are commonly used. 

  • Neer Test: For this test, the specialist will stand behind you to press down on the top of your shoulder. Your arm will be rotated towards your chest as you raise your arm as high as you can.
  • Hawkins-Kennedy Test: With this type, you’ll be asked to position your elbow at a 90-degree angle and then raise it to your shoulder level while sitting. The specialist will put their arm under your elbow and then press down on your wrist to rotate your shoulder.
  • Yocum Test: In this exam, you’ll put one hand on your opposite shoulder and then try to raise your elbow without moving it.

How Do You Fix Low Shoulder Mobility?

To improve your mobility, it’s essential to create a long-term consistent routine. Paying close attention to your posture and establishing a training routine is the foundation of everything.

Improving with good posture is one thing that you can do right this moment. It’s all too easy to get into the habit of slouching or hunching. When you do this, the subacromial area (that space at the top of your shoulder bone) becomes smaller and there is less space for the muscle tendons. This can cause your muscle tendons to get pinched.

Bad posture is easy to correct but requires ongoing effort. Get into the habit of checking in with your body. Are your shoulders relaxed? Are they lifted toward your neck? Take a deep breath, raise your them, and then let them fall. This is an easy and relaxing way to scan over your posture. These posture check-ins are the perfect place to start with a smart routine. Over time, you will realize that the pain in your shoulders and neck will reduce.

Insider tip: Did you know that an incredible 92% of working people in Singapore are stressed? That is higher than the international average and it’s having a profound effect on each and every one of us. Many people carry this tension and it can lead to chronic pain.

Learning a few simple, one-minute relaxing techniques can make a real difference in your physical and mental health. Whether you’re rushing through that famous Singapore commute or trying to unwind after a long week, a few little relaxing tricks will go a long way.

Should I Do Shoulder Mobility Exercises?

How do I unlock my shoulder mobility? It is a question asked daily to countless physical therapists such as Chiropractors and orthopaedic surgeons, and sports medicine specialists around the world. The correct answer always involves exercises.

While there is no one-size-fits-all training programme, workout sessions such as running, F45, pilates and yoga are integral to any good routine. In recent years, spinning and bouldering have also become popular activities to improve overall health. Remember to do some stretches before each workout to prevent unwanted muscle cramps. Here are a few helpful exercises to try.

Quadrupled Shoulder Overhead Reach

Doing quadrupled shoulder overhead reaches will help you control your lumbar spine (lower back) and support your overall mobility.

  1. Get on all fours with both hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders while your knees are stacked under your hips. It is important to maintain the correct position to avoid injuries to your wrists.
  2. Push into the ground as you spread your shoulder blades apart.
  3. Arch and tuck your lower back then go into a neutral position. You should feel like you’re somewhere between the arch and tucked positions with your back.
  4. Now, stretch one arm outwards and slowly reach overhead. As you reach up, rotate your thumb towards the ceiling.
  5. Keep repeating as you make sure that your lower back doesn’t droop. After a few repetitions, switch sides.

L-Arm Stretch

Doing L-arm stretch exercises is great for stretching your rotator cuffs and the back.

  1. Lie on your stomach and place one arm by your side.
  2. Extend your other arm across your chest with your palms facing upwards, and make sure that you don’t shrug towards your ear.
  3. Using your shoulder muscles, pull your chest towards the floor and hold for several seconds.
  4. Repeat a few times, then change sides.

Open Book Stretch

Your thoracic spine (upper and middle part of the back) will be actively stretched with open-book stretch exercises.

  1. Lie on your side and extend both arms in front of you.
  2. Bring your top hand towards the ceiling and stretch it all the way to the floor on your other side. Follow the motion of your hand with your head.
  3. As you move your head and hand in sync, make sure that your hips stay still.
  4. Repeat a few times then switch sides.

If you’re experiencing frozen shoulder or rotator cuff discomfort, you can do some simple stretches in this video by Ray of Health. Alternatively, it is best to visit our orthopaedic doctors at Ray of Health for rotator cuff injury treatment if the pain is severe.

Keep these workouts as part of your daily routine if you want to improve. Remember, a single workout is not enough. The real key is to build a sustainable stretching programme that fits into your everyday life. Spending the time to relax and stretch will make a profound difference over time. For better injury recovery from rotator cuff tears, you might consider platelet-rich plasma treatments.

Consult a Trusted Orthopaedic Doctor in Singapore

Are you dealing with chronic discomfort? It’s time to get tested. Whatever your age or fitness level may be, you don’t have to live with limited mobility. In addition to shoulder pain, our team at Ray of Health also specializes in treating other musculoskeletal conditions, such as golfer’s elbow and knee arthritis treatment to help manage pain and stiffness in the knee joint. A simple test and consultation with an expert will get you on a path to a brighter, healthier future.

When finding a suitable expert, you should know the difference between a chiropractor, osteopath and physiotherapist and the difference between physiotherapy and orthopaedic surgery in order to receive the best treatment.

Ready to chat? To get started, you can book an appointment online with our specialists in orthopaedics treatment in Singapore and ask for Dr James Tan. Prefer to chat? Call us at +65 6235 8781 or message us on WhatsApp at +65 8028 4572 or via email hello@quantumortho.com.sg.

If you’d like to find us directly, visit one of our clinics below:

Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre

3 Mount Elizabeth, #13-14

Singapore 228510

Mount Alvernia Hospital

820 Thomson Road

Medical Centre D #05-60

Singapore 574623

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We can help you with anything from serious chronic pain to a nagging distraction. Call us now to get started.

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