Learning how to warm-up your shoulders isn’t rocket science, but remembering to do it before your run can feel like it.
As runners, we often focus on our legs and forget about our upper body. After all, our legs are getting all of the impact, right? While this is true, our shoulder muscles and entire upper body help us move along with every stride–your legs can’t do it alone.
That’s why proper shoulder warmup is one of the key parts of injury prevention. Learning how to warm up your shoulders is critical for efficient running and preventing shoulder joint injuries, such as a rotator cuff muscle injury.
This article will walk you through shoulder warmup exercises, mobility exercises, rotator cuff warmups, and more.
Proper Shoulder Warmup Is Mission-Critical
One of my favorite things about running is that it’s easy to get out the door without having to put on a lot of equipment or even having to drive anywhere. Simply put on your clothes, lace up your shoes, and get out the door, right?
However, if you want to enjoy running and reap the benefits of the sport long-term, you have to do the simple things to take care of your body and stay injury-free.
That means taking five to ten minutes before and after your runs to stretch and build muscles that fuel every run. Having a warm-up routine can help keep you pain-free, and strong!
After all, your legs can’t do it alone. Focus on having a strong core infusing your training runs with upper-body workouts that keep you going strong on a regular basis.
In addition to your leg maintenance, here’s what you’ll need to focus on before and after your runs:
- Shoulder warmup and mobility
- Upper body warmup
- Rotator cuff warmup
- Core warmup
How to Warm-Up Shoulders
I’m going to share my best shoulder mobility exercise and explain why it’s so helpful. You may a stiff upper back resulting in shoulder pain, but it certainly doesn’t have to that way.
So, take a couple of minutes to warm up your shoulders with 5 of my favorite PVC pipe exercises which can also be done with a broomstick at home.
Why is this important? Your day-to-day lifestyle forces you to round forward over the steering wheel, phone, keyboard, and computer screen.
Your upper back (thoracic spine) and shoulders lose the all-important range of motion and fluidity of movement required to run upright, to rotate smoothly, not to mention to safely and effectively load, lift, hang, swing, and carry.
In this video done for Reebok, I share with you my 5 FAVORITE shoulder exercises that I use daily to improve shoulder range of motion, posture, arm swing, increase blood flow, AND ultimately run technique.
Achy, stiff, cranky shoulder blades? Adding these best exercises into your running program or your daily routine will make a huge difference in getting them back to health!
We hope you enjoy them!
#1 Shoulder Pass
20 regular shoulder passes
#2 Reverse-Hand Shoulder Pass
20 reverse-hand shoulder passes
#3 Around the World
10 “around the worlds” each side
#4 External Rotation Holds
10 x 2-3″ holds external rotation
#5 Shoulder Rolls
Don’t have a broom (who doesn’t have a broom?)? Do shoulder rolls instead. Front and back—20 reps each.
Rotator Cuff Warm-Up
It's important to warm-up all of your shoulder muscles, but you might have a troublesome rotator cuff that deserves extra attention. Have no fear—we have just the thing. Here's how to warmup your rotator cuff before a run:
Extend your arms out to the sides so they are parallel to the ground. Start by making small forward circles, gradually increasing the size of the circles. After 15-20 seconds, reverse the direction and do backward circles. This warms up the shoulder muscles and increases blood flow.
Cross-Body Arm Stretch
Bring your right arm across your body at shoulder height. Use your left hand to gently press it closer to your chest. Hold for 15-20 seconds and switch arms. This stretches the posterior part of the shoulder.
Simply shrug your shoulders upwards towards your ears and then relax them down in a smooth motion. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions. This targets the trapezius muscles and helps in relaxing the upper back and neck.
Internal and External Rotations
Stand with your right elbow at a 90-degree angle, and your arm against your side. Hold a light resistance band or even a towel with both hands. Keep your right elbow pinned to your side, rotate your forearm towards your body (internal rotation) and then away from your body (external rotation). Repeat 10-15 times and then switch arms. This directly targets the small muscles of the rotator cuff.
Stand arms-length away from a wall. Place your palms on the wall at shoulder height. Lower your body towards the wall by bending your elbows, then push yourself back to the starting position. Do 10-15 repetitions. This engages the chest, front of the shoulders, and the core.
Stand in an open doorway. Place your hands on the door frame at about shoulder height, with elbows bent. Lean forward slightly until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulders and chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds. This stretches the front of the shoulder and the pectoral muscles.
Stand or sit with a straight spine. Pinch your shoulder blades together as if you're trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for a few seconds, then relax. Repeat 10-15 times. This activates the muscles between the shoulder blades and helps in maintaining an upright posture during the run.
Remember, the purpose of this warm-up is to get blood flowing to the area, increase joint mobility, and prepare the body for the dynamic movement of running. Even though the primary focus for runners is the lower body, ensuring the upper body is warmed up can lead to a more comfortable and efficient run.
Make Your Shoulders a Priority
Try using these shoulder warmup exercises before your next workout for strong, healthy shoulder muscles. Plus, don’t forget to check out our new mobile app for running tips, videos, injury prevention guidelines, and more! Take a look at our training programs and decide which one is best for helping you reach your fitness goals today!