Shoulder Mobility Exercises With Bands

Dr. John demonstrating how to place the band on your shoulder for the banded shoulder mobility exercises

Welcome to Part 2 of our Banded Mobility Series!  If you missed Part 1, be sure to check out last week’s blog post about banded hip mobility!  It’s time we look at one of the other major joints in the body that we love using bands on, the shoulders.  Our shoulders play a vital role, taking us through movements that range from the mundane to the extraordinary. For some, shoulder mobility can become limited slowly over time without us even realizing it, especially with internal rotation. This limitation can bring about various symptoms and discomfort, affecting many groups of individuals. This week we’ll identify symptoms, look at who is being impacted most, and share some of our favorite shoulder mobility exercises with bands.

Understanding Limited Internal Rotation:

Limited internal rotation in the shoulders can have many different symptoms.  These are your body’s way of telling you that the joint’s full range of motion is not being used. Some common symptoms include:

  • Pain or Discomfort: Individuals with restricted internal rotation often experience pain or discomfort during specific movements, such as reaching behind the back or a pinching feeling when lifting overhead or infront of yourself (like a bench press).
  • Reduced Range of Motion: Limited internal rotation restricts the shoulder’s ability to move freely, resulting in a decreased range of motion. This can hinder daily activities and impact athletic performance.
  • Muscle Imbalances: The imbalance in the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint is a frequent outcome of limited internal rotation. Certain muscles may become overactive, compensating for the restricted movement, while others may weaken over time.

Who is Most Likely to Experience Pain?

Limited shoulder mobility, especially in internal rotation, can impact anyone.  Nonetheless, some groups are more prone to experiencing pain or discomfort than others:

Crossfit athlete lifting weights while working out
  • Desk Workers: This should be no surprise!  Spending prolonged hours at a desk or in front of a computer may develop shoulder issues due to poor posture and lack of movement.
  • Athletes with Overhead Movements: Athletes in sports or activities that involve frequent overhead movements, such as swimmers or weightlifters, are susceptible to shoulder limitations.
  • Aging Population: As we age, joint mobility tends to decrease, making older individuals more susceptible to limited internal rotation in the shoulders.

Shoulder Mobility Exercises With Bands

Now that we’ve identified the symptoms and most likely candidates for shoulder discomfort, let’s dive into our favorite way to get instant relief.  Incorporating shoulder mobility exercises with bands into a regular fitness routine can significantly improve internal rotation and enhance overall shoulder mobility.

These 2 exercises are quick and easy.  Just because they’re simple doesn’t mean they’re not impactful when done properly!  There are 2 important things to make sure you keep in mind. 

  • Your Shoulder’s Position – When stretching with or without a band, it’s so important to keep your shoulder back and in its socket.  If you’re stretching and it’s pushed forward you’ll start irritating muscles and tendons in the front of your shoulder.  
  •  Relax Into It – Let the band do the work!!  The great thing about doing these banded mobility exercises is that you don’t need to rely on yourself to do the work, the band helps do it for you.  Fighting into it or pushing our shoulders forward to get tension are not effective ways to stretch the area.

The Test

Test by reaching your arm behind your back before doing your shoulder mobility exercises

First thing’s first!  We are data people so of course we want you to test before you start working on these exercises.  Our test is a very simple movement.  We want you to try to reach behind your back, bringing your fingertips up towards your upper back.  Make sure you keep your shoulder head back (not pushed forward) and that you’re not allowing your ribs to flare.

The Exercises

Banded Internal Rotation Stretch – Attach your band to something that isn’t going to move at shoulder height.  Place your arm in and step forward so you have the appropriate tension.  The first exercise is all about that last tip.  We are getting into that pulled back shoulder position and letting that shoulder head settle nicely into its joint.  

Dr. John is leaning forward with tension through the resistance band to improve shoulder mobility

With the band tension bringing your shoulder back, you want to bring your arm behind your back like in the test position.  Relax into this.  You can hold your wrist with the other arm to get more range through the stretch, but don’t pull hard!  Hold this for at least 30 seconds

Incorporate a sweeping movement into your shoulder stretch

Banded Sweeps – Keeping the band on, after your hold, start moving your banded arm in a sweeping motion.  It can start behind your back and then go towards an overhead position.  You want to continue keeping your shoulder head back and your shoulders away from your ears as you come overhead.  Do about 10 reps of this sweeping motion.


Repeat – With almost all of our exercises we ask you to repeat repeat repeat!  3 times to be exact!  It’s important to reinforce what you do, so doing this on both sides over 3 rounds will really help you open up.

Check Out Our Video on Shoulder Mobility Exercises with Bands!

Be sure to do this before every time you’re about to lift, grapple on the mat, play tennis, or whatever causes discomfort in your joint.  You can even do this every morning as a prep for opening your shoulder before working that 9-5.  Then you’re going to want to think about your sitting posture all day!  No matter where you place this, make sure it’s before your activity of choice.  

While working towards improving shoulder mobility, banded shoulder exercises emerge as a beacon of hope. Whether you’re an athlete pushing your physical boundaries or an individual seeking relief from daily discomfort, these exercises hold the potential to transform your shoulder health. Bid farewell to limitations, and let banded shoulder mobility exercises be your gateway to pain-free movement!

More Than Just A Pinch?

Are you constantly rolling your shoulders, trying to take away that dull nagging ache?  Stop ignoring your shoulders.  They’re telling you that now is time to do something about it before it becomes a real problem.  Improve the flexibility, stability, and strength in your shoulders in just 15 mins a day!  This is not a bandaid, but lasting relief built into a 4 week program.  Your shoulders will thank you for it!  Start MDRx Shoulder today.

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