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3 Essential Daily Shoulder Exercises For Ages 50+ (Only 2 Minutes)

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in April of 2023. For the original video go to

Brad: All right, today we're going to talk to you about shoulder health, particularly with people that are maybe over 50. I know because I'm actually over 60 now, and we're going to show you three particular exercises that are going to help keep your shoulder mobile, healthy, pain-free, and it only takes two minutes.

Mike: So if your shoulder is feeling tight and your job before is very physically demanding on it, we're going to show you three exercises to help improve your posture, get it unlocked and moving proper and make you feel great.

Brad: All right. Now with the shoulder, we have to keep in mind it is likely the most complicated joint in the body. Remember, it goes out to the side, up in front, behind your back, behind your head, across your chest, all directions, it's just amazing. Now if you have tight muscles, if the capsule of the joint gets tight or you have arthritis in that joint, all three of those things can really raise havoc on that shoulder and lock it up. We need to unlock it, free that joint, and get you moving.

Mike: So now we're going to walk you through three exercises you can do. They're all going to be done in a seated position and it'll only take a couple of minutes. And the most important part about these exercises is to get your scapula or shoulder blade moving properly again.

Brad: That's right. So most people think of the ball and socket, which is very critical part of the shoulder to move, but if the scapula is not moving freely across the rib cage, there's going to be big problems and the socket and the ball aspect of the joint will not work. So the scapula must float all the way up to here to approximately 60 degrees.

Brad: You don't need to remember that, but just remember, free motion of the scapula is absolutely necessary as well as the ball and socket freedom for a pain-free shoulder that is going to get you everything you want.

Mike: How you might know if you have a tight shoulder complex would be if you're trying to reach up into a high cupboard and you can't get there or experiencing pain. Another symptom would be if you're reaching back behind your head, say you're fixing your hair, or for females maybe putting on your bra, that can be painful as well. And also, if you're experiencing any type of headaches or tension on the side or your neck, or maybe even referring pain down in your arm, those are all problems saying that your shoulder complex is not functioning properly and we need to get it moving correctly.

Brad: You hit it right on the head, Mike. Good work. Okay, exercise number one. The goal for this exercise is to get your scapula, your shoulder blade, moving across that rib cage. Mike is going to bring his arms out in front of him. Now with your elbows locked and straight, think about bringing rounding your shoulders. So now your shoulder blades, my hand represents your shoulder blades are sliding forward. Now, I want you to keep your elbows locked and bring your shoulders back and you can see my hands are much closer.

Brad: Forward and back, and I'm right on her shoulder blades, forward and back. Now I'll show you how you can do this in a seated position. It's best probably to do this in a seated position at a desk or a table. You're going to sit on a chair, with good tall posture, hands on the table, and straight elbows. Do not let them move and think about sliding your hands forward. The only way you can get your hands to slide forward is by those shoulder blades sliding across the rib cage and forward. And now I'm going to go back. So I'm actually doing the exact same motion Mike was doing standing, but we're using the table as a guide as well as holding the weight of the arms, allows scapular motion, and I'm really getting a lot of motion. You will feel those shoulder blades moving and that's what you're looking for. Motion of the shoulder blades equals motion of the whole shoulder.

Brad: Okay, the second exercise, we want to unlock those shoulder blades in the vertical up and down position. So first thing you'll need to do, and we're going to do this in seated or standing. Right now, standing with good posture, but make sure you're not all tight. Good posture in a relaxed manner. Nothing real tight here. And we're going to look at the shoulder blade. Okay, let's look at the shoulder blade. Can you go up and down? So we're getting about inch and a half, two inches of motion on there, just by going up and down with those shoulders. Again, relaxed breathing posture.

Brad: Now we're going to show you how to do it in a chair, which is a little more convenient. First thing as always, good posture. Get the shoulders back, head up, everything in line but relaxed. Now simply elevate the shoulders up to the ears and then drop them down. Now actually our armrest may get in the way. Scoot forward a little bit so they don't, so we have a good free motion. Feel those shoulder blades sliding up and down across those rib cage. That's happening, whether you feel it or not. You'll know it after you concentrate on it for a little bit.

Brad: Now, if you're a more able person, stronger, and you have this motion down really well, what you can do to add a little strengthening to this is what we always used to call these wheelchair pushups or in a chair. Arms on the arm rest, push yourself up, lock the elbows and then up and down with the shoulder blades. Now again, this is going to be for those more active people, people who are the step-up as far as strength to give you a little more challenge. But always make sure you can do the first option well before moving on. That's strictly an option. Let's go on to number three.

Mike: Exercise number three is a stretch for the lats or the latissimus dorsi muscle. And if this muscle is tight, it can actually pull your scapula down and depress it causing more pain and not allowing your shoulder to move properly. So to stretch the Lat muscle, we're going to show you a version seated first, which Brad is going to demonstrate now. So he's leaning forward, he's going to put pressure through the palm of his hands, and he's going to slowly bring his upper body back as his hands don't move much. This is going to put a nice stretch on the latissimus dorsi, getting that shoulder to function properly later on. Do you have anything else to add about the Brad?

Brad: No. Just keep those hands still and slide your butt back in the chair and I can feel that muscle stretch and that scapula moving upward. This is a real critical exercise, probably the most critical exercise of the three. Now, Mike is going to show you how to do it on your hands and knees, either in bed or on the floor.

Mike: So this is another option for exercise number three. It is going to be the same stretch but in a different position. So if that position worked for you, what Brad was just showing, stick to that. If you want to get a little more stretch and you're able to get on your hands and knees, then this is the version you can try. So I'm going to get in a quadruped position, meaning I'm on all four limbs here. For me personally, it's better if I bring my feet together so I can sit back easier. It's going to depend on your specific anatomy, what feels best for you there.

Brad: So Mike, I just want to interrupt. You can do this on your bed possibly or on the floor. And we're going to first show it as if it's on a bed, a softer surface.

Mike: Yes. So I'm going to push down through my hands and I'm going to slowly sit back towards my heels with my buttock. As I'm doing this, I'm pushing down through my hands. You may not be able to get down to this full range of motion, and you can just do little rocking motions to start feeling the stretch. Once it becomes easier, you can push down and try and hold this. Is there a certain amount of time they should do this for, Brad?

Brad: Well, I want to emphasize this shoulder blade is going forward, stretching that latissimus dorsi muscle, that big muscle in the back. Feel the stretch. I would hold it for five to 10 seconds to start with. As you get used to it and you feel like you want to get a more aggressive stretch, 15 seconds, maybe up to 30 if you can tolerate that. And if you have a tight shoulder, say on the left side, it feels tighter than on the other side, you're going to take the left arm and cross over to the other hand. And Mike, you feel an intensity of that stretch right there?

Mike: Yes.

Brad: There you go. That's the way to advance it. Three to five times probably to start with. As you do it more and more, you'll feel if you want to go more than that or not, or just hold it longer.

Mike: So if your bed is too soft and you want to do this exercise on the floor, a simple suggestion would be to put a pillow underneath your knees to begin with and start there. If say the top of your ankle is getting problematic, you can also put a pillow there as well and take some pressure off of those joints. The point of the stretch is to stretch the shoulder blade and get it back in its proper place. So we're not too worried about what your legs are doing here.

Brad: We just want them to feel comfortable and enjoy the stretch. If you're in pain down in the ankles, things are not fun. You do not relax so well. So Mike, I have to say, you're doing an outstanding job.

Mike: Thanks.

Brad: I do want to say overall, do all these exercise three to five repetitions. There's no repetition set in stone. Do them as comfort. Start out with less time and less repetition. As you do a more, you'll get a feel for how long you need to do that. We're not going to spend five or 10 minutes. Again, two minutes is on the title. That's what it will condense down to once you do them five or 10 times.

Mike: It is important to start slow with these exercises. You don't want to do too much too soon and be overly aggressive. So start gentle with each stretch. Maybe only do one or two a day and build up over time.

Brad: That's right. So again, consistency and we all know things don't happen magically. You may find a great benefit in that first day or two, but you want to continue with it. Even if you do or you don't, after a week or so, you're going to start to notice, I can reach into that cupboard higher. I can comb my hair without that pain and tightness. Things happen over time. Continue, continue and you will find the results very helpful. I feel better already, don't you?

Mike: Yes.

Brad: Yeah. Okay. So you're going to have good results with these exercises, I'm sure. Again, do them throughout the day. Unlock those shoulder blades, get some mobility going, and be happy.

Mike: Let us know in the comments section what worked for you. If you would like to find more videos on reducing shoulder pain, search our YouTube channel and maybe if this video didn't work, some of the tips and tricks from another video might work for you.

Brad: Excellent.

Mike: Goodbye.

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