Fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana demonstrates shoulder mobility exercises including arm extensions on her yoga mat at home.

Stretching: 5 mobility stretches for shoulder pain

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These simple mobility stretches will loosen up tight shoulders from desk work or workouts

There’s a lot of talk about the problem of being desk bound when it comes to your back and your hips, but what about your shoulders? It’s these that often end up rolling forward or hunching up to your ears and becoming tight and sore

Good posture is so important because it has knock-on effects on the rest of your body’s mechanics and how it moves. Tight shoulders can lead to back pain, neck pain and weak abdominals,” says Emma Obayuvana from the Strong Women Collective. 

In fact, a study from 2020 found that neck pain worsened in 50% of home workers throughout the year and lower back pain was experienced by 41.2%. 

Shoulder mobility is also hugely important when it comes to training. “Anything that involves lifting overhead or pulling your arms back requires a good range of motion in your shoulders to perform movements with greater efficiency and without making any mistakes to your alignment, which could lead to an injury,” Emma explains.

Mobility work is the answer to creating “efficient and effective movements”, according to Emma. Mobility training simply means doing dynamic stretches that strengthen the joints and muscles in their end ranges. Rather than just stretching the body out, mobility focuses on improving how it moves through different shapes, which is much more practical. 

Five move shoulder mobility sequence

“This stretch sequence takes a top-to-bottom approach, moving slowly through individual planes of movement and muscle ranges from the neck down to the back of the shoulders and lat muscles,” says Emma. 

Ensure that your movements are dynamic rather than static, as you are trying to train your body to move well through the postures, rather than just stretch the muscles. 


CARS stands for controlled articular rotations which simply means creating circles with the joint. “It’s really important to move the neck in this way as it’s designed to move in a circular motion. We need to move the joints through their natural ranges to improve their range and to notice where we feel tightness or difficulty,” says Emma. 

Clasped hand extensions

“By holding your hands together you allow for stability through the shoulders as you actively pull through your range,” says Emma. “It also pulls your shoulders down to counteract that common rounded posture, as well as opening into the pecs which are really influential muscles on the shoulders.” 

Shoulder mobility stretches demonstrated by fitness trainer Emma Obayuvana
Shoulder mobility stretch: clasped hand extensions.

Side to side reaches

This stretch uses a belt, resistance band or towel to put the muscles under tension while stretching. “Working into the back of the shoulders and the lats, which sit under your armpit, is really important for stabilising the shoulder joints,” says Emma. “If these are tight it can affect your whole upper body mobility.” 

Arm raises

“Using the belt helps to develop strength in the muscles and joints while they move through their full range of motion. If you’ve been lifting weights in the gym then this will feel really good right now,” says Emma. This is really important for people who work out, teaching you to open and activate the muscles when moving through any overhead exercises. Ensuring you’re working through the correct movement patterns when extending is crucial,” says Emma.

Full shoulder extension

“This is the final exercise for a reason – it takes your shoulderd through their entire range of motion, incorporating all of the muscles we’re warmed-up and mobilised before,” says Emma. 

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Images: Getty 

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Chloe Gray

Chloe Gray is the senior writer for's fitness brand Strong Women. When she's not writing or lifting weights, she's most likely found practicing handstands, sipping a gin and tonic or eating peanut butter straight out of the jar (not all at the same time).

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