Shoulder Warm-Up Tips
Summit physical therapist and shoulder expert Amanda Thielen, PT, MSPT, discusses the best ways to warm up your shoulder before exercise or activity.
What’s the best way to warm up your shoulders before starting exercise or activity? The answer may surprise you. Read on for our best shoulder warm-up ideas.
“The best way to prepare for exercise or activity is doing some dynamic warm-ups, which is moving while you stretch, stretching through a joint’s whole range of motion to prepare the muscles and joints for exercise,” Thielen said.
Whereas prolonged, static stretching of cold muscles is not a good idea, dynamic stretching promotes blood flow by increasing the circulation to muscle tissues and joints. “It helps prevent injury and helps improve your overall performance,” Thielen said. “When we’re preparing for an activity or exercise, the goal is to promote blood flow to the muscles and lubricate the joint tissues so that they’re ready for exercise.”
Three quick shoulder warm-up tips
- Start small. “When we’re preparing to exercise, we want to start with smaller movements, then increase range of motion,” Thielen said.
- Tighten your core. Engaging your abdominal muscles while warming up will help you stabilize your spine and shoulder to prepare your body for activity.
- Take your time. “Five to 10 minutes of dynamic warm-ups focused on increasing range of motion is generally enough to prepare the shoulder for activity, while gradually increasing your heart rate as well,” Thielen said.
Five dynamic warm-up ideas for shoulders
- Arm circles, starting small and increasing the range of motion
- Shoulder rolls — forward and backward
- Shoulder retraction — pulling your shoulder blades together
- Overhead motion, to the front and to the side
- Small movements that mimic the exercise or activity you’ll be doing
What to do after your workout
“After your workout, it’s a whole different ball game,” Thielen said. “The types of movement we recommend are completely different.”
After exercise, when the joint is warm, is the time to focus on improving flexibility with prolonged, static stretches. A good general guideline is to stretch and hold for 20 to 60 seconds. You should feel a gentle stretch, but no pain. But static stretches are not the right thing to do before exercise — it can overlengthen the muscle fibers, reducing performance, and it does not achieve the goals of increasing blood flow to the joint and preparing it for activity.
When to seek treatment for your arthritis
Arthritis doesn’t have to spell the end of an active life. Whether you try these shoulder warm-up ideas or not, if you are experiencing worrisome symptoms or persistent pain, the renowned arthritis specialists at Summit Orthopedics can help. We work with you to confirm a diagnosis and develop an appropriate conservative treatment plan. If nonsurgical treatments fail to support your lifestyle goals, fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons will consult with you and discuss appropriate surgical options. Summit is home to innovative joint replacement options. Our Vadnais Heights Surgery Center is one of a select few nationally to receive The Joint Commission’s Advanced Certification for Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement.
Summit has convenient locations across the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We have state-of-the-art centers for comprehensive orthopedic care in Eagan, MN, Plymouth, MN, Vadnais Heights, MN, and Woodbury, MN, as well as additional community clinics throughout the metro and southern Minnesota.
More resources for you
A clicking sensation in your shoulder could signal a SLAP tear.
Dr. Beacom offers Team USA swimmer’s shoulder protocol to local athletes with shoulder injuries.
Emergency rooms treat more people during the summer’s active months. Strengthening your core muscles can help reduce your risk of injury as you enjoy warm weather plans.