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, shoulder mobility issues start long before then — but they don’t have to! With the right approach, you can effectively improve shoulder mobility to reduce discomfort today and prevent future issues.

One of the best things that you can do to improve shoulder mobility 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.

Here is your expert guide to pain-free shoulders.

Should Flexibility vs Shoulder Mobility

Before we dive into the best ways to safely and effectively improve shoulder mobility, 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 shoulder 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 might be having trouble with shoulder mobility? There are three core causes of shoulder immobility.

  • Inactivity: Having a sedentary lifestyle has head-to-toe consequences and inactivity is one of the most common causes of shoulder immobility. Without movement, your shoulder 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 of your shoulders. This is why it is important to pay attention to your posture when you’re working in the office or at home. Your humerus bone may shift and cause a displacement in your shoulder socket. This can escalate to shoulder impingement, which causes your shoulder to rub or catch on tissue and/or bone when you lift your arm.
  • Instability: For athletes who build one shoulder muscle more than the other, like baseball or cricket players, shoulder instability is common. This happens because your shoulder has unequal forces acting on either side. Bad form during workout sessions 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 shoulder mobility is because it increases your risk of injury. When you have shoulder immobility, you also lack strength, coordination, and stability.

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

It is important to understand that doctors take shoulder mobility seriously because it can be a sign of something more. 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 have shoulder mobility issues? If you think there may be an issue, the first step is to see a specialist. There are three tests for shoulder mobility 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 your shoulder.

How Do You Fix Low Shoulder Mobility?

To improve your shoulder 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 your shoulder mobility 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 your shoulders. 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 shoulders, 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 shoulder-improving 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 in their shoulders 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 shoulder mobility exercises.

While there is no one-size-fits-all training programme, workout sessions such as HIIT workouts, F45, pilates and yoga are integral to any good shoulder mobility routine. Remember to do some stretches before each workout to prevent unwanted muscle cramps. Here are a few helpful shoulder mobility 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 shoulder 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.
  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 of your shoulders.

  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 your shoulders 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 injuries, you can do some simple stretches in this video by Ray of Health.

To improve shoulder mobility, keep these workouts as part of your daily routine. 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 in your shoulder mobility over time. 

Consult a Trusted Orthopaedic Doctor in Singapore

Are you dealing with chronic shoulder discomfort? It’s time to get tested for shoulder mobility. Whatever your age or fitness level may be, you don’t have to live with limited mobility. 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 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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