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More than any other joint in your body, your shoulders are designed to move in many planes of motion. Good shoulder mobility is necessary if you want to lift weights overhead, throw or catch a ball, or simply reach for something without injury.

For most of us, problems start with our everyday routines — sitting at a desk and driving a car put our shoulders in a problematic position, says Miguel Aragoncillo, CSCS, a Boston-based strength coach. Flared ribs, tightness in the arms and chest, and difficulty raising your arms overhead signal limited range of motion.

Here are Aragoncillo’s top exercises for improving shoulder mobility.

Myofascial Release in Pecs and Anterior Shoulder

myofascial-releaseIllustrations by Kveta
1. Stand next to a wall and place a tennis ball, baseball, or lacrosse ball between the front of your shoulder and the wall, about 2 inches below your collarbone.

2. Press the front of your shoulder or chest with the ball against the wall and locate an area where you feel tightness. Gently roll the ball in a circular motion across the tight area for about 30 seconds.

3. Move the ball slightly to locate any other areas that are tight. Repeat as needed on both shoulders.

Forearm Wall Slide With Y Arms

wall-slideIllustrations by Kveta
1. Stand with toes touching a wall, your back in a neutral position, and ribs squared over your hips.

2. Start with your elbows bent at your sides and pinky fingers against the wall.

3. Slide your hands upward and slightly to the sides until both arms are straight.

4. Lift your hands and arms away from the wall, aiming to get your biceps in line with your ears, without shrugging, and maintain a neutral posture.

5. Return hands to the wall and slowly lower them. Repeat for three sets of eight to 10 repetitions.

Deep Squat Breathing With Lat Stretch

  • Locate a stable bar or other secure object that you can hold on to and that stands about midheight between your knees and hips.
  • Stand about an arm’s length from the bar. Push your hips back slightly and reach your hands forward to grip the bar, keeping your spine neutral. Tuck your chin slightly to look down.
  • Still holding the bar, sit back into a squat until you feel a stretch in your lats.
  • Drop down even lower so that your belly rests between your thighs.
  • Breathe deeply through your belly, thinking about exhaling toward your thighs. Continue breathing in this position for about 20 seconds.
Illustrations by: Kveta

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  1. Thank you. Will try this tonight. Very helpful. Last week I used a tennis ball on back of shoulder. It worked. By time I got to my massage therapist the pain was gone. Thank you for this Tip!

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