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Shoulder Mobility

Shaun Pownall's picture

Importance of Shoulder Mobility and why injuries/pain occurs due to poor shoulder mobility


Shoulder positioning is a huge factor as to why we have shoulder injuries or pain found around the shoulder region. 


The most common issue a lot of people have is when their shoulder’s round forward, and pain can be felt in the centre of the ball and socket joint, or around the rotator cuff (group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint) and traps (upper back muscle). 


What’s the big culprit?

A lot of jobs require people to work at a desk.  So after time, the shoulders begin to creep forwards, and the rotator cuff and trap muscles become weaker as they aren’t being engaged. 

This means the pectorals and anterior deltoids (front shoulder muscle) are taking over and overworking. 

Also, in sports that require using the shoulder’s a lot, this can lead to these issues occurring as well. 

Mainly repetitive strain can take over in sports that use a lot of the same movements over and over.

This can include sports such as: cycling (forward shoulder position), swimming, tennis, and golf etc. 


If shoulder mobility isn’t trained regularly, these conditions can occur: 

  • shoulder impingement, 
  • frozen shoulder and 
  • arthritis 


How do I know if I have poor shoulder mobility?

  • Pain in shoulder
  • Limited range of movement
  • Discomfort lifting your arm
  • Unable to lift arm above shoulder
  • General weakness in the shoulder
  • Pain when you move, especially when you reach overhead
  • Grinding sound in your shoulder
  • Pain at night
  • Possible bruising on your shoulder


What is Shoulder impingement?

A shoulder impingement is where a tendon in the shoulder rubs against any surrounding soft tissue and/or bone, which causes discomfort when lifting your arm overhead. 

Some of the common symptoms of shoulder impingement are: 

  • pain on the top and outer-side of shoulder, 
  • weakness in arm, 
  • pain lifting arm overhead and 
  • pain or an aching feeling when sleeping.


With mobility exercises, the effects from the shoulder impingement should ease down within 1-2 weeks, if these are done correctly.  Avoiding repetitive overhead movements such as swimming and tennis e.g., for a few days or a week can help to increase the recovery time. However, you shouldn’t completely stop moving your shoulder either, which is where the mobility exercises come in.

  ** Want more information on Shoulder Impingement? Read our  **

Are you getting the frozen shoulder?

Like shoulder impingement, you may feel a lot of the same symptoms as you would for frozen shoulder. The main difference being that your shoulder will feel stiff and the range of motion in the joint will be a lot less. 

Frozen shoulder can also last much longer than shoulder impingement, anywhere from months to even years. It’s best to go to a medical professional such as a doctor to get this diagnosed if you feel you have these symptoms. 

Shoulder mobility exercises can be introduced when the shoulder is able to move again but this may take a while. Like shoulder impingement you need to try to get some movement in the joint, so that the condition doesn’t worsen.


Arthritis is not just for older people!

Although more commonly found in older people, arthritis can come to anyone as there are many different forms of this condition. For instance, rotator cuff tear atrophy, is a type of arthritis which forms after a severe tear to any of the tendons which connect the rotator cuff muscles to the shoulder blade. To prevent the occurrence of any type of arthritis, mobility can help a huge amount by keeping the joints healthy. 


Should I worry about the Clicking in my shoulder?


Most of the time, when people say their shoulders click, grind or crack a lot but don’t feel any pain, this is known by the process cavitation. This is similar to cracking our knuckles, in which trapped air/gas inside the joint is suddenly released because the joint has opened up. This isn’t a major thing to worry about it, as this can happen over an over again and doesn’t cause any direct damage to the joint but should be avoided if possible. By using a variety of mobility exercises and strengthening exercises, to the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint, the clicking should decrease. 


How do I improve my Joint Health?


There are a few ways to improve overall joint health to prevent any conditions from coming up. 

First of all, movement is the key to better range of movement and joint health. 

Involving mobility, strengthening, and stretching exercises can all help to increase the range of movement in a joint.

The joint can then naturally secrete a synovial fluid (like WD40 acts on a door hinge e.g.) to improve joint health.

For this process to happen, you need to keep yourself hydrated. So by drinking plenty of water can also aid towards overall joint health.


Let the healing begin!


Posture while going about our daily lives are always important whether that is in our jobs or leisure activities.  Our bodies work at optimal level when the correct posture is maintained and an effective way to minimise injuries.


By working on retraction of the shoulder blades, can help a huge amount to keep the shoulders in a neutral position and central in line with the body from a side view.


Using a wide full range of motion when doing mobility exercises means the muscles can work together more equally. 


Using stretches and movement together will help to increase the range of usability of a muscle. Moving through different planes of motion (forward/back, up/down, left/right), is the best way to allow for the muscles involved with shoulder movement to work in different ways, rather than focussing on one movement path. 










And of course, listen to your body.  Allow for rest when it is needed.  

Up your activity levels when you’ve not moved for a while! Start small and work your way up.

If the movement is painful or uncomfortable, stop!


Last, but not least, we are here to offer advice and help!




















Shaun Pownall's picture
About Shaun Pownall

Level 5 Advance Sports, Injury and Rehabilitation Therapist.  

He is interested in any Strength Sports and does Powerlifting in his free time.

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