Arm & Shoulder Warm-Up Exercises

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Make sure to properly warm up your arms and shoulders before working out.
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Proper warm-up and stretching of the arms and shoulders will improve your flexibility and help you through a range of activities. When you swim or play baseball or tennis — or the piano — you must keep your arms and shoulders strong and flexible.

Desk-bound activities, such as talking to customers on the phone or typing away at a computer keyboard, put their own set of stresses on the arms and shoulders. No matter what kind of upper body activities you do, you will benefit from including your arms and shoulders in your list of warm-up exercises.

Read more: Stretches for Subscapularis

Tip

Include some arm circles, swings and stretches in your list of warm-up exercises.

1. Arm Circles

Stand up straight and perform arm circles slowly to maximize your range of motion during this shoulder warm-up exercise.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out to the sides with palms facing up. Rotate your arms from back to front 10 times, then rotate them from front to back for 10 times. Reverse your hands so your palms face the floor and repeat the sequence.

2. Dynamic T-Arm Swings

Dynamic T-arm swinging shoulder warm-up exercises also target muscles in your chest and upper back.

HOW TO DO IT: Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out in front of you with your palms together and fingers pointing forward. Rotate your body to the left by pivoting your right foot on the toe, heel up. As you do this, move your left side back and keep your right hand stable in the starting position. Keep your hips, shoulders and head aligned as you rotate.

Stop the movement when you are facing 90 degrees from your starting position. Your arms will be straight out to the sides and your right foot will be in the pivot stance. Immediately rotate your entire body back to the starting position with both arms pointed straight ahead, palms touching, and both feet flat on the ground. Repeat the rotating movement to the right, bringing your right arm back and pivoting on your left foot. Repeat the entire sequence a total of 10 to 20 times.

Tip

If you have difficulty with the overhead shoulder stretch, hold a hand towel in the overhead arm. Grasp the towel with both hands behind your back and use the towel to help you bring your hands closer together.

3. Overhead Shoulder Stretch

Perform shoulder stretches in your arm warm-ups for lifting — particularly if you plan to do overhead exercises.

HOW TO DO IT: Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow and place your hand with the palm between your shoulder blades. Bend the elbow of your other arm, moving the arm behind your back with the elbow down and the hand pointing up. Keep the palm of this hand facing away from your back.

Bring your hands toward each other so the fingers touch. For a deeper stretch, grasp the fingers of both hands. Hold this position for five to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Read more: 10 Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises to Prime You for Your Workout

Warning

If you have questions about your ability to do shoulder warm-up exercises, check with your doctor. Working with a physical therapist or trainer will help you learn to move correctly and avoid injury.

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