senior doing shoulder strengthening exercises

5 Easy & Gentle Shoulder Exercises For Seniors (With Video)

How to get your range of motion back & free yourself from pain by unlocking your shoulders

Are you ready to (comfortably) wave goodbye to shoulder pain & stiffness? With just 15 minutes of these gentle & easy shoulder exercises for seniors you can get stronger, unlock stiffness and stop letting pain limit what you can do. If you want to be able to comfortably reach behind your head, lift your arms all the way and get your shoulders moving freely… keep reading to see how easy it can be to make it a reality!

Benefits of doing shoulder exercises for older adults

  • Unlocks stiff joints
  • Stabilizes supporting muscles
  • Improves length of your reach
  • Fights osteoporosis
  • Increases upper body strength
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves spine & neck mobility
  • Reduces nerve pain in neck & upper back
  • Improves shoulder joint mobility

5 Easy & Gentle Shoulder Exercises For Seniors

Simply follow along step-by-step with the shoulder exercises in the instructional video to see how to do each exercise properly (Click Or Tap Video) or get the written instructions below.

Neck Retraction / Chin Tuck To Strengthen Deep Neck Flexor Muscles

How to do it:

  • Sit upright and put one hand across your lower ribs and one hand just below your nose on your upper lip. 
  • Draw your head straight back as if attempting to make a double chin.
  • Hold in this retracted position for 2-3 seconds then release your neck back towards your starting position.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Pause. Then repeat for 10 more reps.

Why do it: This exercise brings your neck into proper posture and makes sure it has the mobility it needs for your shoulders to function well. 

Seated Cat Cow For Upper Back And Shoulder Socket Mobility

How to do it:

  • Sit upright with feet flat on the ground and hands on your thighs.
  • Inhale and arch your back by pushing your rib cage and belly straight forward, opening the chest and lifting the chin slightly.
  • Exhale and round the back, pushing your rib cage and belly straight backwards, and drawing your chin towards your chest.
  • Repeat both motions for 10 repetitions. 

Why do it: Because your rib cage and upper back is what your shoulders sit on, you need to make sure these areas are moving freely in order to get your shoulders to move properly as well. 

The No Money Exercise To Strengthen And Loosen Your Rotator Cuff & Shoulder Blades

(Fun fact: It’s called this because it looks like you’ve taken your hands out of your pockets and are looking at them like you have no money!)

How to do it:

  • Sit upright with your elbows bent at 90 degrees so your forearms are parallel to the ground with your palms facing the ceiling.
  • Make a loose fist with your thumbs pointing out the sides.
  • Keep your elbow close to your torso, but not touching and move your hands laterally out to your sides as wide as you can by rotating your shoulders.
  • Reverse the motion to bring your hands back in.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • Take a break and repeat 10 more times.

Why do it: This exercise strengthens your rotator cuff to maintain the stability of your shoulder joints & muscles.

Standing Row To Increase Upper Back Muscles

How to do it:

  • In a standing position, loop a resistance band through a sturdy structure at approximately doorknob height.
  • Take one end of each band in each hand.
  • Start with arms straight out in front of you.
  • Pull your shoulder blades and elbows back at the same time, keeping your chest upright.
  • Hold for a moment then return to starting position.
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions.
  • Take a short break then repeat for 12 repetitions.

Why do it: Increases upper back strength for controlling where your shoulder blades go and it’s one of the main things that will make you feel better in the long run. 

Internal Rotations To Improve Rotator Cuff Function

How to do it:

  • In a standing position, attach one end of a resistance band to a sturdy structure at doorknob height.
  • Stand so your body is in line with the band (not facing it).
  • Bend your elbow at 90 degrees and hold your hand out directly in front of you (as if you’re about to shake someone’s hand).
  • Bend at the elbow, pulling your knuckles towards your belly button. 
  • Hold for a split second then let it slowly return to starting position.
  • Repeat for 10 positions.
  • Switch sides and repeat with other arm for 10 more repetitions.

Why do it: This exercise works a different part of your rotator cuff than the other exercises so doing it ensures you’re strengthening and improving your entire rotator cuff.

These 5 simple shoulder exercises for seniors will more than help you on your way to regaining range-of-motion and mobility in your shoulder joints while strengthening your supporting muscles. If you want to keep progressing, be sure to check out the full 5 day program!

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