If you hope to build strength in your upper body to counteract the implications of a sedentary occupation, brace against injury or discomfort in recreational activity, or simply contribute to whole body strength and health, you should consider incorporating the shoulder stability exercises we describe in this article into your daily routine.

FAQ

1. Why Are Shoulder Stability Exercises Important?

2. Who Should Be Building Shoulder Mobility?

3. How Should I Approach the Need to Build Shoulder Stability?

How We Reviewed

In compiling our list, we consulted information proffered by occupational and physical therapists and recommendations published in major periodicals that cover the health and fitness industry.

What We Reviewed

  • Scaptions
  • Diving dolphin
  • Shoulder Retractions
  • Plank raise tap crunch
  • Wall Angels
  • Dumbbell lateral raise
  • Wall Push-ups
  • Reverse fly
  • Quadripeds
  • Shoulder Extensions (straight arms)

Scaptions

Benefits


Scaptions are a great exercise for you if you equally value mobility and strength. Scaptions build muscle quickly compared to other shoulder stability exercises and they improve flexibility.


How to Do It

  • Begin with straight arms at your sides holding a pair of dumbbells
  • Elevate your arms in front of you until they are parallel with the ground
  • Slowly return your arms to the starting position
  • Be sure to keep your arms straight throughout the motion
  • Use dumbbells as desired

Diving dolphin

Benefits


Like the other yoga-inspired shoulder stability exercises below, the diving dolphin is a great way to strengthen your shoulders while concurrently exercising your entire body. The diving dolphin engages the pectoral muscles, triceps, abdominals, obliques, and the back.


How to Do It

  • Begin in a quarter downward dog position with forearms on the floor
  • Press yourself forward while flattening your back
  • Touch your chin to the ground between and just beyond your hands
  • Slowly return to the starting position

Shoulder Retractions

Benefits


Like a few of the other shoulder stability exercises on our list, shoulder retractions, also known as scapular retractions, are great for building muscle and expanding range of motion in people who spend their days in an office hunched over a computer. Shoulder retractions are not particularly rigorous, thus they are a great exercise for patients with limited strength and/or flexibility.


How to Do It

  • While standing upright, rotate your hands so they face forward
  • Raise your arms to a 45-degree angle, halfway between straight out and at your sides
  • Pinch your shoulder blades together to the greatest possible extent
  • Slowly return to the starting position
  • Be sure to keep your arms at a 45-degree angle throughout the exercise

Plank, Raise, Tap-Crunch

Benefits


In addition to being one of the most rigorous shoulder stability exercises, the plank, raise, tap-crunch is a whole body workout. This exercise strengthens the abs, obliques, triceps, pectoral muscles, shoulders, and lower back. If you are looking for shoulder stability on top of whole-body strength and awareness, do some plank-based exercises.


How to Do It

  • Begin in a plank position with only your toes and hands touching the ground
  • Raise one arm directly in front of you until it is parallel to the ground
  • Raise the same arm directly to your side, at a 90-degree angle from your torso, until it is parallel to the ground
  • Reach the same arm beneath you while bringing the opposite leg, off the ground, toward your waist until your hand can tap the opposite foot
  • Return to a plank position
  • Repeat the process on the opposite side

Wall Angels

Benefits


Wall angels are particularly useful for building stability in the rotator cuff muscles meaning it's a great exercise for anyone who has experienced a rotator cuff injury. Wall angels also reduce tension in the neck and high back, helping to expand the shoulder's range of motion; therefore, this is another great exercise for anyone who sits in an office chair throughout the day.


How to Do It

  • Begin with your heels 3-6 inches from the wall and your pelvis, back, and head touching the wall
  • Ensure your spine is fully extended
  • Bring your arms up against the wall so your elbows are at the same height as your shoulders and your forearms extend straight up from your elbows
  • Slowly raise your arms until they are fully extended above your head
  • Be sure to keep your elbows and the backs of your hands against the wall throughout the motion
  • Slowly bring your arms back to the starting position

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

Benefits


As a shoulder stability exercise, the dumbbell lateral raise is singular in that regular performance of the lateral raise simultaneously builds strength, which contributes to stability with great efficiency while simultaneously increasing mobility and range of motion. You should do lateral raises regularly if your priorities are divided between stability and flexibility.


How to Do It

  • Hold a pair of dumbbells at your side in a shoulder-width stance with hands facing toward your body
  • Keeping your arms straight, raise your arms out to your sides until they are at the same height as your shoulders
  • Pause before slowly returning your hands to their starting position without bending your elbows

Wall Push-ups

Benefits


Many people lack the strength in the shoulders and throughout the upper body to complete any appreciable number of traditional push-ups. If you are in this category, wall push-ups are a great way to build strength in the shoulders and elsewhere in the upper body. With regular application, wall push-ups are a great way to work up to traditional push-ups.


How to Do It

  • Stand slightly farther than arms-length from a wall which you are facing
  • Lean slightly forward and place your hands flat against the wall
  • Slowly bend your elbows allowing your body to approach the wall, keeping your feet flat on the floor
  • When your arms reach a 90-degree angle at the elbow, pause
  • Push against the wall until you return to the starting position

Reverse Fly

Benefits


If you are regularly experiencing pain in the shoulders and the high back based on recreational or day-to-day activities. Reverse flies are a great way to counteract pain and build strength and balance in the shoulders and back that will mitigate future pain that would have arisen from the same or similar activities.


How to Do It

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart hinged at the waist with a straight back nearly parallel to the ground
  • Hold a pair of dumbbells straight down with palms facing one another
  • Raise both your arms straight out, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your hands reach the level of your back
  • Actively prevent your shoulders from hunching forward throughout the motion
  • Slowly let your arms fall until you return to the starting position

Quadrupeds

Benefits


Quadrupedal exercises are fantastic for shoulder stability; however, this is only one facet of the numerous benefits of this variety of exercise. Practitioners of quadrupeds will increase their core strength and their stability in the wrist and elbow, as well as empowering the hips and the knees.


How to Do It

  • Begin on all fours with your hands beneath your shoulders and arms fully extended and knees on the ground beneath your hips and toes on the ground directly behind your knees
  • Extend one arm straight out in front of you until it is parallel with the ground, simultaneously extend the opposite leg straight out behind you until it is parallel with the ground
  • Raise both your arms straight out, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your hands reach the level of your back
  • Repeat the process with the other arm and opposite leg

Shoulder Extensions (Straight Arms)

Benefits


Shoulder extensions are a great way to increase the range of motion in individuals who struggle to extend their arms fully in front of themselves, above themselves, or laterally. This unique benefit makes shoulder extensions one of the best shoulder stability exercises if you lack the flexibility to complete other shoulder exercises that require a more dexterous physique.


How to Do It

  • Wrap a resistance band around a pole or other sturdy object at the level of your hips
  • Face the pole in a shoulder-width stance with one end of the resistance band in each hand
  • With straight arms, pull your hands back by squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Pause before slowly returning to starting position

Featured Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash