For such a simple exercise, shoulder rolls provide a lot of benefits. They increase range of motion in the shoulders and upper back, improve posture and release throat tension. Shoulder rolls may also be used as a stabilization and strengthening exercise when performed with light weights to make your upper back and neck stronger.
At Your Desk
Shoulder rolls are an important exercise to do when sitting for long periods of time. Sitting in front of a computer or at a desk for hours can cause tension in your neck and back. Rolling your shoulders forward and backward while sitting can release this tension to prevent pain, especially when coupled with neck stretches. To perform shoulder rolls at your desk, sit on the edge of the chair without your back touching the back rest. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart on the floor. Shift your hips until you feel both sit bones press equally into the seat. Sit up straight to place your spine in its proper posture. Your neck should align with your spine so that your head is over the center of your shoulders, not extending forward. While holding this correct posture, lift your right shoulder slowly back and then up toward your ear. Roll your right shoulder forward and down. Next, roll your left shoulder backward, up, forward and down. Alternate rolls in this direction until each shoulder has rolled three times. Roll your shoulders in the opposite directions three times each. Finish by shrugging your shoulders straight up toward your ears together and pressing them down five times.
For Your Throat
Tension in the throat may be released by performing shoulder rolls. The muscles of your throat including the upper thorax and the extrinsic laryngeal are the targets of this exercise. To perform shoulder rolls, stand up straight with your head pulled back so that your ears are in line with your shoulders. Relax your tongue on the bottom of your mouth and gently relax your jaw too. Place your feet hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly. Let your arms hang at your sides with your palms facing your legs. Then, pull your shoulders up toward your ears. Roll them backward and down. Next, roll them forward and down. Keep your head stationary during this exercise. Do 12 repetitions in each direction.
With Added Weight
The standing dumbbell shoulder rolls exercise strengthens your shoulders and upper back. You can do this exercise standing in the same manner as the previous exercise. Stand up tall with your arms at your sides and holding a dumbbell in each hand. Use light weights and keep your elbows bent slightly and relaxed during this exercise. Roll your shoulders five times in each direction. Then rest for 30 seconds and do another set. Perform a total of four sets. Over time, as your shoulders and upper back get stronger, you can use heavier weights.