3 Simple Exercises To Mobilise Your Shoulders for Crossfit (With No Equipment)

3 exercises that take around 10 minutes per day, designed to mobilise your shoulders, improve range of motion and reduce the chance of injury.

Ever noticed how easy it is to forget your mobility work? After your workout, you realize how tight and beat up your shoulders are. But then you think, “I’m so hungry…I’ll just mobilize tonight after dinner.”

Be honest. How often do you actually end up doing it?

You don’t need to feel guilty about it. Chances are you don’t have fancy mobility bands and lacrosse balls at your disposal. And when you think about what stretches you can do for your shoulders without any equipment, you draw a blank. Maybe you can muster up one or two basic stretches.

But will it be as effective as the bands and balls?

“Maybe I’ll just wait until I get to the gym tomorrow…”

I know this vicious cycle all too well.

I’m going to show you exactly how to hit your shoulder mobility from all angles in about 7-10 minutes all while you continue to watch Netflix. That’s right. You can do this while you watch your favorite tv show.

#1: Childish Lat Stretch

Nothing feels worse than a tight front rack position. And usually it’s not your wrists that are limiting you, it’s your lats. You can’t fully express your strength in the following movements if you can’t get into a comfortable position in the first place:

  • Front Squat
  • Clean variations
  • Thrusters
  • Any overhead movements

I don’t know about you, but finding stretches that mobilize your lats without any equipment are pretty tough to find. I haven’t found anything that hits the spot like the Childish Lat Stretch.

#2: Rabbit’s Pose

Have you ever noticed how tight your upper back feels when you’ve been sitting in the car for a few hours? Or after a long flight? Or when you fall asleep on the couch while binge watching Netflix?

After I came off the plane from a 20 hour flight from Pennsylvania to Sydney, Australia — my entire upper back felt like it was about to explode. Every single thing we do in the gym, for the most part, requires us to keep our shoulders back and down.

To offset this position and restore scapular mobility, take some time to explore the Rabbit’s Pose.

Scapular Health: 4 Banded Mobility Exercises to Bulletproof Your Shoulders

If you do this correctly, it feels like a breath of fresh air. Literally…you’ll notice that you can breathe deeper.

#3: Chicken Wing

Does the bar ever float away from your body in the third pull of the Snatch or Clean?

How about your shoulders dumping forward in the Overhead Squat?

If you’re missing internal rotation, no technical cue is going to fix this for you. There’s a ton of mobilisations that address external rotation of the shoulders. But very rarely do you stumble upon the same variety that addresses internal rotation, let alone with no equipment.

The Chicken Wing is by far my favorite stretch for the shoulders at the moment.

Yes, it’s intense. Yes, it’s a little awkward to get into. But once you settle in, it’s all worth it.

Without This Piece, You Might As Well Forget It All

Let’s identify the root of what makes ANY mobilization work — no matter how basic or boring it seems.

You have to breathe if you want to release tension.

Breathing deeply signals a parasympathetic response, which is crucial for allowing your muscles to relax. This is what elicits that “feel good” factor.

And that’s why we measure the duration of the above stretches with “30 breaths” instead of saying “2 minutes.”

You know when you hit a stretch for a few minutes, yet you walk away feeling like you could’ve hung out there all day? That unsatisfied feeling where you’re not fully stretched out is like walking out of the gym thinking “Man I could’ve pushed just a little bit harder today.”

Thuri Helgadottir flexibility for Crossfitters
Mobility work paying off

I invite you to call my bluff by testing this out on your own with the Childish Lat Stretch.

We’ll use this as an example since you work each side separately.

  • On your right side (or whichever side you want to start with), just hang out at your end range for 1-2 minutes.
  • Don’t worry about breathing or anything like that.
  • Now on your other side, let’s spend 15-30 breaths at end range.
  • Fully inhale as if you’re trying to inflate the entire side of your body like a balloon.
  • Exhale by simply releasing any tension allowing yourself to fully relax.

If you don’t feel a significant difference, comment below and let me know.

The Secret To Making This Work

So that’s it right?

10 minutes of magic and you’re set for life? Wrong.

The key to improving flexibility in any area is consistency. All I tried to do today is give you a convenient way to fit this into your schedule. It’s up to you now to actually do these stretches.

10 minutes to improving your flexibility sounds a little gimmicky. But what if you multiplied that by 7 days? Or 30 days? That’s 70-300 minutes dedicated solely to improving your flexibility! All while enjoying Netflix.

Keep in mind that flexibility is only one side of the coin.

If you’re someone who has spent months endlessly stretching without seeing any long term improvement, chances are you need more stability work.

I’m on a mission to help people people continually improve their shoulders. After all, we beat them up on a daily basis.

Find more on the Airborne Mind.

Now go get ’em tiger.

7 Exercises to Build Overhead Stability for Crossfitters


Thuri Helgadottir flexibility for Crossfitters © Thuri Helgadottir

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About The Author

Misbah Haque helps recreational CrossFitters improve mobility and strength using bodybuilding and gymnastics practices. He hosts a podcast called The Airborne Mind Show, where he brings some of the smartest minds in fitness together each week. For anyone looking to improve movement quality, he’s giving away a few free gifts at theairbornemind.com.

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