Arm & Shoulder Warm-Up Exercises

Sporty woman stretching her arm in forest
A woman stretching her arms and shoulders on a hiking trail. (Image: DenizA/iStock/Getty Images)

Proper warm-up and stretching of the arms and shoulders will 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 regular exercise to stretch and tone your arms and shoulders.

Arm Circles

Step 1

Stand straight with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold your arms straight out to the sides with palms facing up.

Step 2

Rotate your arms from back to front 10 times, then rotate them from front to back for 10 times.

Step 3

Reverse your hands so your palms face the floor and repeat the sequence.

Dynamic T-Arm Swings

Step 1

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.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Overhead Shoulder Stretch

Step 1

Raise one arm overhead. Bend the elbow and place your hand with the palm between your shoulder blades.

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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

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.

Warning

If you have questions about your ability to do these 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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