If you’re struggling with tight, closed-off shoulders, grab a lacrosse ball and get ready to open up.
Trainer Charlee Atkins, C.S.C.S. recommends that anyone looking to improve their shoulder mobility take a moment to get down and put the joint through its range of motion. You could try the same thing standing up, sure—but Atkins says you’ll be better off once you get down on your chest.
“If we do this exercise standing up, we tend to lose the core due to either the hips being tight or instability in the knee or ankle joints,” she says. “By laying down, we’re able to put all of our focus in the arm by eliminating all other joints. Keep the shoelaces down and press the front of the hips in the ground to further ensure core stabilization.”
Focus on your movements here—it’s not worth your time to rush. Start by lying on your belly in the prone position with the ball in hand. Reach the arm holding the ball overhead, keeping it as straight as possible, working on bringing the bicep above the ear. Once you reach the highest level, start to bring the straight arm through its full range of motion behind you. Continuously rotate the arm so that the thumb is rotating toward your body. Once the hand is by the hip (with your arm still straight), the thumb should be pointing toward the sky. From here, start to bend the elbow to bring the hand behind the back. Pause for a count, then return to the starting position.
Atkins suggests doing 8 to 10 full circles every morning (or before your workout) with each arm to improve your shoulder mobility.
But if you find yourself unable to work through the full range of motion, you’re not out of luck. “If you find this exercise challenging, try decreasing the beginning angle (when the arm is overhead, bicep near the ear) by taking the arm a little bit further away from the head,” Atkins suggests. “You can also do this exercise standing next to a wall (ball side to the wall), and as your mobility improves, eventually relocate to the ground.”
Want to learn more moves from Atkins? Check out our series full of her workout tips, Try Her Move. You can also take on her new 30 day challenge in our streaming All Out Studio app.