These 6 Simple Shoulder Exercises Can Help Improve Your Mobility

These 6 Simple Shoulder Exercises Can Help Improve Your Mobility

As the world moves online, many of us are finding ourselves sat in front of a screen for work, shopping and even dating! Hunching over your phone or laptop and sitting for long periods of time without exercise can cause serious mobility issues in your back, neck and shoulders. 

Here are just some signs which indicate that you are overdue for some shoulder mobility exercises!

  • Do you have a stiff neck?
  • Do you experience pain when turning your head?
  • Are your muscles tight in your upper back and shoulders?
  • Do you find yourself hunching over your phone/laptop, or slumping in your chair?

Why is it important to exercise?

It has been scientifically proven that if you exercise frequently, your physical and mental health can drastically improve. We become more attuned with our bodies, more alert and focussed, and most beneficial of all, we can slow down the ageing process by keeping our joints mobile!

What does mobility mean?

Technically speaking, mobility is the joint’s ability to perform a range of movements. When we haven’t exercised, or our joints are feeling stiff, this range of motion is adversely affected and we can end up hobbling around like Julie Walters in the 1986 Victoria Wood’s ‘Two Soups’ sketch!

Why is shoulder mobility important?

Our shoulders are fundamental when carrying out our day-to-day activities, however they are notoriously neglected. Imagine trying to clean your home, or weed your garden, or carry your shopping without being able to move your shoulders! That’s why it is essential that we care for our shoulders - because they’re a nightmare to replace!

6 shoulder exercises to improve mobility

Nodding Bear Stretch

  • Whilst sitting or standing, cross your arms over your chest and place your hands on opposite shoulders-  as if you are giving yourself a big bear hug!
  • Slowly tuck your chin all the way down into your chest. Let your head go heavy and relax your jaw.
  • Slowly draw a vertical line with your nose as you look up to the ceiling, taking care not to crunch at the back of the neck, then nod your head down again, tucking your chin into your chest. Repeat this motion 6 - 8 times.

This hugging action will open up the shoulder blades to relieve tension, and the nodding action provides a great stretch for the bass of the neck and tops of the shoulders.

Shoulder Circles

  • Sit/stand up tall with your arms relaxed down by your sides. Concentrate on keeping your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. Focus on having a long slender neck like a beautiful swan, and puff out that feathery chest!
  • Slowly bring your shoulders forward and up to your ears, then back and down in circular motion, taking care to return to your lovely long-necked position.
  • Repeat this 10 times, then circle your shoulders the opposite way for another 10.

This exercise can help to improve your posture, relieve muscle tension, and counteract that dreaded slumped position we so often find ourselves in!

Cactus Wave

  • Imagine you are a cactus in the Mexican desert (stay with me here!), with your arms raised either side of you with your palms facing forwards and your elbows bent at 90 degree angles. Again, keep your back nice and straight and keep your shoulders down and away from your ears.
  • With one arm, gently rotate your shoulder so that your forearm and palm are now facing the floor, then return to the original position, facing your palm forward.
  • Repeat with movement with the other arm, taking care to keep the movement controlled and steady.

This movement may feel robotic, but it is fantastic for increasing your shoulder mobility! It can be enhanced by holding a weight in each hand such as a bottle of water or a dumbbell. This will engage the muscles around your shoulder, increasing muscular strength.

Standing Arm Swings

  • Whilst standing tall, take care to keep your back straight, your head facing forwards and relax your arms down by your sides.
  • Keep your elbows straight as you swing your arms forward and up, then back and down in a circular motion.
  • After repeating this circular swing 10 times, repeat your arm swings in the opposite direction for another 10 repetitions.

This exercise is particularly good for increasing blood flow to the shoulder joint, and you can adjust the speed of your swings to increase or decrease intensity.

Cross-arm Stretch

  • Whilst standing or seating, cross your right arm horizontally across your chest, keeping your elbow straight.
  • With your left hand, pull your elbow towards your body to feel a yummy stretch in your right shoulder. Hold this stretch for 6-8 seconds, then release.
  • Repeat with your left arm crossing over your chest, and your right hand pulling your elbow into your chest.

This stretch is wonderful for releasing tension from the muscles around the back of your shoulders, and increases your shoulder mobility and flexibility.

Doorway Stretch

  • Standing in a doorway, flex your elbow and forearm to make a 90 degree angle. Take care to keep your feet about a shoulder-width apart for a steady stance.
  • Rest your forearm against the doorway then lean into the stretch. Make sure you only stretch as far as is comfortable!
  • Hold this stretch for about 30 seconds, then repeat with the other arm. This process can be repeated 2 or 3 times.

This movement stretches each side of the chest individually, allowing you to focus on one side at a time. This is particularly helpful if you are experiencing problems with just one shoulder, and it increases the range of motion.

Can taking collagen increase joint mobility?

In our joints is a thick liquid which acts as a lubricant to keep our joints moving: It’s called synovial fluid - posh, eh? This fluid is full of nutrients and minerals which keep our joints mobile and healthy, including collagen! I know what you’re thinking: ‘Collagen is just for skin right?!’ But oh no, collagen is also incredibly important for our joint health! It nourishes our synovial fluid and can help to prevent arthritis!

The results speak for themselves…

An independent user trial was carried out by Cue Consumer to assess the efficacy of Reverse Life Marine Collagen 10,000mg supplement. 120 participants were required to take a capful of collagen daily for 20 days. An impressive:

60% reported that their joints were less and achy and their movement and flexibility significantly improved

Taking a regular collagen supplement, in conjunction with doing simple shoulder exercises and keeping the body moving, has been positively shown to help reduce inflammation and stimulate collagen synthesis. Something that an ageing body struggles to do. It may help promote pain relief among sufferers of common joint disorders such as osteoarthritis.

So if you’re struggling with shoulder pain and mobility, be sure to try out our recommended exercises and consider taking a daily collagen supplement like Reverse Life Marine Collagen.


This blog post was guest written by Holly Everett. Holly holds a BSc in Exercise and Sport Science along with an MA in Exercise and Sport Science: Coaching Studies. Look out for more great exercise and mobility tips from Holly coming to the Reverse Life blog.