Addressing Your Shoulder Pain | Shoulder Extension Integrated Mobility

Many of us suffer from more and more shoulder pain as we get older. Shoulder mobility is important for your health and fitness, and we have found that almost all of our clients are lacking in certain areas of their shoulder health.

Integrated mobility work performed before and/or after each working set of strength work helps to develop and maintain healthy connective tissues and serve to help keep us injury and pain free.

In this blog post we will focus on shoulder extension, which is one component of shoulder health most often overlooked, especially in our adult population. Simply put, shoulder extension is bringing your arms behind your body. 

Most adults are not at all comfortable in this position due to tight shoulders, pecs, and biceps. 

Focusing on this movement and area of your body will make you less prone to shoulder injury and prepare you for more advanced and “fun” exercises.
Here is a list of our basic Shoulder Extension Integrated Mobility Movements that serve about 95% of our clients well for the first 6 months of their mobility journey: 

Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch
Standing Shoulder Extension Reps
Bent Shoulder Extension Pull
Feet Assisted German Hang

The Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch and Standing Shoulder Extension for Reps are the first 2 steps, and should be mastered before moving on to the Bent Shoulder Extension Pull and more advanced progressions.

The Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch helps to train and develop proper shoulder extension.

From a seated position on the floor, reach your arms behind you with your palms down.

Try to do two things here:

1) Get your hands as close together as possible (ideally pinky fingers touching)

2) Walk your hands as far back as possible.

Your goal here is to get your shoulders closer to the ground, thus demonstrating full shoulder extension range of motion.

Holding the position, try to get lower as you hold. This will be an intense stretch on your biceps (which you will feel in your elbows), so be sure to only push to a mild sense of discomfort.

Pain when stretching is not a good thing, as that can be a sign that the body is not quite ready to use that range of motion yet.

The Standing Shoulder Extension movement is a great preparatory movement to help prepare the shoulder for shoulder extension movements.

Keep the chest up tall, and squeeze the back muscles as you attempt to elevate the bar as high up as possible.

Aim to increase shoulder angle to 45 degrees initially, and eventually 90 degrees.

Pause 3-5 seconds at the “top” of the movement, with no forward lean of the chest and/or hinge at the hips.

Each repetition should take you 6 seconds to complete.

Stand in front of a wall to keep you honest if appropriate.

The Bent Shoulder Extension Pull is a great mobility movement we use to help develop and maintain healthy and capable shoulders.

It is important that we spend months conditioning the muscles and connective tissues on movements like the Seated Shoulder Extension Stretch and the Standing Shoulder Extension for Reps before we begin to add in this movement.

The Feet Assisted German Hang is our first step into introducing the rings, and an important preparatory movement before we move into the German Hang, which is performed from the high rings with your feet off of the ground.  

The emphasis should be on opening of the shoulder angle (should extension), using a reduced percentage of your own bodyweight as the resistance.

Other movements that you can play around with that we have found have also helped to develop shoulder extension mobility and stability:

Use these movement videos as resources to help establish and implement a plan to develop better strength and mobility in your shoulders, specifically with shoulder extension movements.

You can add these in as integrated mobility work performed before and/or after each working set of strength work helps to develop and maintain healthy connective tissues and serve to help keep us injury and pain free.