What can I do to increase the range of movement in my shoulders (in any or all directions)?

Is it even possible to significantly increase the range of movement in young adulthood?

And what sorts of exercises and movements should I definitely avoid that will further restrict or "lock in" the shoulders' range of movement?

  • 2
    No exercise will "lock in" a joints range of motion. For safe shoulder stretches, look at modern swimming stretching. The shoulder is mainly held together with ligaments/muscle, there isn't much defined structure, so the ROM of the shoulder will come from muscle flexibility more than anything.
    – JohnP
    Oct 14, 2013 at 15:08
  • Perhaps of interest: wilfleming.com/2013/10/eric-cressey-snatch Oct 23, 2013 at 11:58

2 Answers 2


When you do military presses, the optimal way to activate the entire shoulder and even trapezius is to shrug when you're at the top of the movement.

So as you go up, you normally press the weight until your arms lock out. If you're familiar with the shrugging movement, you can do this one trick to really push your shoulders, by activating your traps with the shrug motion. Essentially when your arms are at the top, extend them maybe an inch further and pull your traps in. Guaranteed to build you up.

Also, consider internal and external rotations for shoulder mobility and warm-ups, this will help with your rotator cuffs during lateral and front raises.

External Rotations

Swimming is also a big one for shoulders. +1 @JohnP

Stay thirsty my friends

  • +1 right back at you for the recommendation on the internal/external rotation and the rotator cuff plug.
    – JohnP
    Oct 18, 2013 at 14:49

When I hear you say “lock in” that make me think of people who have had shoulder surgeries where the ligaments where intentional attached in a manner to reduce shoulder mobility in order to speed recovery and reduce the chances of injuring the shoulder again. I know next to nothing about the topic of shoulder surgery.

Increasing the range of motion in a joint does not necessarily make it less prone to injury. Proper flexibility should be chosen base on the fitness goals of the individual. For my own part my shoulders need to be flexible enough to do overhead squats. The main way I maintain this flexibility is by doing overhead squats.

I would recommend overhead squats for many reasons. In order to overhead squat properly you need decent flexibility in your ankles, hips, and shoulders

  • How does this answer address any of the OP's questions?
    – JohnP
    Oct 22, 2013 at 20:32

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