5 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Por Brittany Risher |

These simple moves will improve posture, increase mobility, and ease tension in your upper body.

Exercises for healthy shoulders

Maybe you slept in a not-so-restful position, waking up with a crick in your neck and your shoulders feeling tight. Or maybe you have a low-level ongoing ache in those areas most days. Whatever is causing your neck and shoulder pain, it's likely affecting your posture and how well you move all day long.

If our shoulders roll forward, it causes the neck and upper back to shift forward, leading to pain and discomfort. The domino effect continues by shifting our balance and gait and ultimately closing off the rib cage, making it harder to breathe. To help counter these effects, we turned to fitness expert David Jack for his favorite shoulder exercises.

A team of researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine recently looked into the ways shoulder pain contributes to quality of life for older adults. No surprise, they found that an achy upper body limits the ability to move and function with ease. (Their results were published in 2023 in the journal Frontiers in Aging.)

Another team of researchers found that the prevalence of shoulder pain increases after age 50 (again, not too surprising) and that it can have a profound effect on an individual’s overall function.

Even if you don't experience shoulder or neck pain often, strengthening the muscles in your shoulders, upper back, and neck can help prevent tightness and improve your range of motion. With that in mind, here are five strength exercises to add to your fitness routine.

Stay active, have fun, get fit — with SilverSneakers! Classes and events are happening right now at participating gyms, online through SilverSneakers LIVE, and at community centers near you. Activate your free online account to get started.

How to Do the 5 Exercises for Healthy Shoulders 

Como siempre, la clave es la seguridad. Get your doctor’s OK before beginning a new exercise program. If you have a chronic condition (including osteoporosis and arthritis), balance issues, or injuries, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Choose two or three of the moves below to work into your daily routine, or add all five to your exercise warmup. You can also pepper them into your day if you find you're doing a good deal of activity that tightens your shoulders and neck, such as working on a computer, gardening, or concentrating on a craft project that keeps you hunched over a table. If you feel any pain doing a movement, adjust by slowing down, or stop and choose a different move.

What you need:

  • Space to move
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Sturdy chair for support
  • Water to sip, as needed

¿Listo para comenzar? Here's how to perform each shoulder exercise.

Shoulder Exercise #1: Out, Return, Down, Up

This movement works your shoulders through multiple planes of motion to strengthen several muscles.

How to do it: Stand tall with good posture, arms by your sides. Using slow, controlled movements, lift your arms out to the sides with palms facing down, forming a T shape with your body. Next, bring your arms in front of you. Reverse the movement back to the T shape, and then lower your arms to the starting position. Haga 10 repeticiones.

Make it harder: Hold light weights for added resistance.

Shoulder Exercise #2: Out, Return, Down

This movement also works multiple shoulder muscles but targets the trapezius, the muscle at the top of your back.

How to do it: Stand tall with good posture, arms by your sides. Using slow, controlled movements, lift your arms in front of you with palms facing down. Bring your arms out to the sides, forming a T shape with your body. Pause, then lower your arms to the starting position. Haga 10 repeticiones.

Make it harder: Hold light weights for added resistance.

Shoulder Exercise #3: Kneeling Reverse Fly

This movement strengthens the muscles that help open the shoulders and pull them back, giving you better posture. It also works your core since it requires stability.

How to do it: Kneel on your right knee with your left foot flat on the floor in front of you. With a straight back, lean forward slightly but keep your front knee behind your toes. Engage your core, and extend your arms toward the floor with palms facing down. Using slow, controlled movements, lift your arms out to the sides, rotating your palms to face up. Haga una pausa, luego regrese a la posición inicial. Haga 10 repeticiones.

Make it easier: Use a mat, folded towel, or small pillow to cushion your knee.

Make it harder: Hold light weights for added resistance.

Conexión
Elegibilidad
Centros
Suscríbase a nuestro boletín informativo
Es rápido y fácil: Usted podría estar entre las 13 millones de personas elegibles.
¿Ya es miembro? Haga clic para descubrir nuestros más de 15,000 centros participantes.

Síganos

Shoulder Exercise #4: Forward Butterfly Circles

This movement is deceiving. It may not seem like an exercise at first, but it fires up your deltoids and improves range of motion in the shoulders.

How to do it: Stand tall with good posture, and engage your core. Keeping your arms extended as much as comfortable and palms down, make large forward circles with your arms. Haga 20 repeticiones.

Make it easier: If you feel any pain, bend your elbows more so your arms aren’t as extended. You can also make smaller forward circles until you get a feel for the movement.

Shoulder Exercise #5: Diamond Down, Y Up

This two-part movement works the muscles in your upper back and shoulders (scapula, trapezius, and deltoids) in different but equally important ways.

How to do it: Stand tall with good posture, and engage your core. Keeping your back straight and your neck neutral (don’t stick your chin out), hinge forward slightly at the hips. With palms facing down, extend your arms toward the floor and hands toward each other so that your pointer fingers and thumbs form a diamond shape. Using slow, controlled movements, retract your shoulder blades and bend your elbows to form a W shape with your arms. Haga una pausa, luego regrese a la posición inicial. Do five reps.

For part two of this exercise, stand tall with good posture, and engage your core. With hands up and palms facing forward, bend your elbows by your sides to form a W shape with your arms. Extend your arms toward the ceiling to form a Y shape. Haga una pausa, luego regrese a la posición inicial. Do five reps. Repeat both movements four times for a total of 20 reps each.

See our sources:
Impact of shoulder pain on quality of life: Frontiers in Aging
Prevalence of shoulder pain increases with age: Archives of Physiotherapy

Verifique su elegibilidad para SilverSneakers al instante

SilverSneakers members can go to thousands of nationwide gyms and fitness locations, plus take SilverSneakers LIVE online classes that are designed for all fitness levels and abilities. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it may include SilverSneakers — at no additional cost. Verifique su elegibilidad al instante aquí.

Already a member? Get your SilverSneakers member ID and exclusive fitness and wellness content by activating your online account here.

¿No es elegible para SilverSneakers? todavía puede obtener gratis más de 200 videos de SilverSneakers On-Demand y mantenerse en contacto con nosotros, creando su cuenta en línea.