The shoulders are the most flexible joint in the entire body, yet shoulder pain affects nearly 18 to 26 percent of adults—and there’s no one reason for it.
To help you get your shoulders in shape and reduce pain, complete this shoulder workout designed by Liles. “If you’re training for strength and hypertrophy (gaining size), go for six to 12 reps, but if you’re training for muscular endurance, lower the weights or just use your bodyweight with higher reps,” Liles says. “Keep in mind that the heavier the weights, the more efficient your muscles become at utilizing calories and improving your metabolism.” As always, check-in with your doctor if you’re experiencing shoulder pain to get exercise recommendations.
Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Reps: 6 to 12 reps per exercise for 3 to 5rounds
Equipment: 1 set of medium-weight dumbbells and a yoga mat
While this classic yoga pose might look simple, it’s actually one of the best shoulder openers and also helps lengthen the spine and brings more awareness to your core.
How to do child’s pose: On a yoga mat, come to tabletop position with your hands shoulder-distance apart. Bring your two big toes together and separate your knees hip-distance apart. Press your hips back into your heels and straighten your arms, reaching your palms toward the top of the mat. Feel free to use a yoga block under each hand to help you deepen the stretch. Hold the pose for at least three breaths.
You’ll work your back, butt, and lower abs as much as your shoulders in this bodyweight exercise.
How to do swimmers: Lie face down on a yoga mat with your arms overhead straight out in front of you and your legs behind you. Engaging your shoulders, back, glutes, and core, lift your right arm and left leg off the mat. Lower them back down to the mat and then alternate between opposite hands and legs. Remember to keep your neck and spine long, as well as your shoulders down to avoid putting pressure to your neck.
Scapular winging happens when there’s limited function of the upper body, which can prevent you from lifting, pulling, and pushing heavy objects. But scapular push-ups can help winging by strengthening your back and shoulders.
How to do scapular push-ups: Get into high plank position with your shoulders directly over your wrists. Imagining that there’s a ball between your shoulder blades, pinch your shoulder blades together as if you’re clutching the ball on your back. Then, lower your body towards the mat until your arms form a 45-degree angle.
Your obliques, aka your love handles, will get as much attention in this shoulder-opening exercise. The key to nailing down this exercise is to keep your hips square and in a straight line as you twist your torso.
How to do side planks: Lie on your right side on a yoga mat. Stack your left leg on top of your right and lift your body off the mat by pressing your right forearm into the mat. Reach your left hand to the ceiling, straightening your arm. Keeping your legs and feet stacked and, squeezing your inner thighs, thread your left arm under your torso and then bring it back up to the ceiling. This is one rep. Repeat on the other side.
Pike Plank Walks
Another example of how engaging your core helps strengthen your upper body, this pike plank walk forces you to recruit your abs, shoulders, and legs to keep your body from sagging to the sides and maintain a straight line.
How to do pike plank walks: Get into a plank with your right forearm stacked in front of your left forearm. Without moving your hips from side to side, bring your right forearm under your left and then your left forearm under your right until you drive your butt up toward the ceiling as a high as possible. Then, walk your forearms back up to the top of the mat, returning to the starting position.