These Exercises Will Fix Your Tight, Aching Shoulders

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Building shoulder strength is essential to do everything from whitewater rafting a Class IV rapid to stowing luggage in the overhead compartment. But the same workout that targets the area—overhead and bench presses, muscle ups, etc.—can give your shoulders trouble. The following moves, designed by New York City–based trainer Adam Rosante, will help bolster shoulders to make them stronger and less injury-prone, or ease you back into things after a shoulder injury (with an orthopedist’s blessing, of course). Do the mobility moves as often as daily, and strength build two or three times a week.

Expert Tip: All-Around Training for Healthy Shoulders

When people work their shoulders, they often break it up into push-pull exercises. For example, they’ll offset sets of pushups with cable pulley rows. Start to consider all the planes of motion that shoulders are capable of, and test them. Think up and down, with cable pulley pulldowns and biceps curls. Go rotational with wood choppers. Use battle ropes, where the load is constantly shifting with each thwack of the nylon. After all this movement, make sure to stretch and do shoulder circles.

1. Mobility and Activation: T-Spine Rotation (shown above)

The thoracic spine, which runs behind the rib cage, is major for mobility. “Your t-spine needs to flex, extend, and rotate to support healthy shoulder mechanics,” Rosante says.

How to do it: Start on hands and knees, right hand cupping right ear. Rotate torso so right elbow reaches toward left hand, then reverse until elbow points toward ceiling. Do this for 2 minutes, switching sides halfway through.

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