13 Stretches for Tight Shoulders

13 Stretches for Tight Shoulders
13 Stretches for Tight Shoulders

Are you looking for stretches to relieve tight shoulders? Whether your shoulder tightness is from sitting at a desk all day, working out intensely, or from your daily activities (like too much texting), these easy moves will loosen up tight shoulders.

Even if you don’t have a full-time desk job, chances are you spend the majority of your days sitting, carrying weighted objects, texting, watching TV, or on the computer for hours. These are all part of modern life, and they can all lead to shoulder pain.

Although we can’t always avoid shoulder pain, there are many simple ways to treat and relieve your muscles. Here are 13 of my favorite shoulder stretches that you can use to create length, relief, and increased mobility in the shoulders. These moves will also help to improve your posture – something we all need!

Block Assistance

Elbow Butterfly | 5 breaths

You can do these stretches anywhere, you just need a pair of yoga blocks or a foam roller to get started.


  1. Place one block at mid-height running vertically between your shoulder blades and the other block at low height running horizontally to support your head and neck.
  2. Touch lightly behind your head with your fingertips.
  3. Open your elbows as wide as you can (ideally resting them on the ground).
  4. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Tip: If this stretch is too intense, you may lay the first block down flat (on lowest height) or just do this stretch lying flat on the ground without the blocks.

Goal Post Stretch | 5 breaths

  1. In the same position as the stretch above, place the backs of your hands down on the ground with elbows bent at 90 degree angles, like a goal post shape.
  2. Relax as you allow your shoulders and chest to stretch.
  3. Hold this position for 5 breaths.

Side Shoulder Stretch | 2 breaths per side x 3

  1. In the same position as before, reach both arms straight with one above your head and the other down by your hips.
  2. Hold each one for about 2 breaths before switching.
  3. Keep switching sides to stretch each side overhead 3 times.

Rotator Cuff Stretch | 5 breaths

  1. In the same block position as above, place the backs of your hands down on the ground by your sides.
  2. Tuck your elbows in close towards the block that’s between your shoulder blades.
  3. Make sure to keep your thumbs pressed down into the ground and your wrists rotating open.
  4. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Overhead Shoulder Stretch | 5 breaths

  1. In the same position as above, reach your arms straight overhead and face your palms up.
  2. Reach as high as you can.
  3. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Elbows Stretch | 5 breaths

  1. Arrange the blocks so that they are both on the lowest height with about 6 inches between them.
  2. Kneel on the ground facing the blocks.
  3. Place your elbows on either block and put your palms together in a prayer position.
  4. Lower your head into the gap between the blocks and rest your prayer position hands behind your neck.
  5. Press your chest towards the floor to intensify the stretch.
  6. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Single Arm Shoulder Lengthen | 2 breaths per side x 3

  1. Stack the two blocks on top of each other.
  2. Kneel down in front of the blocks, far enough away that your hand can barely reach them.
  3. Place one hand on the stacked blocks and the other on the ground for support.
  4. Stretch your shoulder long and rotate towards your support arm.
  5. Hold this stretch for 2 breaths on each side, switch sides to stretch each shoulder 3 times.

Standing Shoulder Stretch | 5 breaths

  1. Stand tall with your feet about hip distance apart.
  2. Clasp your hands together behind your back.
  3. Press your knuckles down towards the ground as you lift your chest.
  4. Keep your neck in a neutral position.
  5. Roll your shoulders back and down.
  6. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Wrist Pull Shoulder Stretch (High-Mid-Low Angle) | 2 breaths each angle x 2 per side

  1. Take a comfortable kneeling position.
  2. Straighten your right arm and make a fist.
  3. With your left hand, grab onto your right wrist and pull it towards the left; first overhead, then at a mid angle, then down low.
  4. Look towards the opposite direction of the pull.
  5. Hold each stretch for 2 breaths, complete each of the 3 angles on one side, then switch sides. Repeat 2x on each side.

Thread the Needle | 5 breaths per side

  1. Start in an all-fours position.
  2. Thread your right arm through the middle until you can lay your head and shoulder down on the ground.
  3. Prop your left hand up on the fingertips and press into the ground to further the rotation.
  4. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.

Puppy Pose | 5 breaths

  1. Start in an all-fours position.
  2. Walk your hands forward as far as they can go without changing the position of your hips (right above your knees).
  3. Lay your forehead down on the ground.
  4. Press your chest down to the ground to intensify the stretch.
  5. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Down Dog | 5 breaths

  1. Start in a forward fold position with feet about hip distance apart.
  2. Walk your hands out until your body forms a triangle shape.
  3. Plant your hands firmly into the ground then lift your hips up further to stretch your shoulders.
  4. Press your chest down towards the ground to intensify the stretch in the shoulders.
  5. Hold this stretch for 5 breaths.

Posterior Shoulder Opener Stretch | 3 breaths per side

  1. Lie belly down on the ground.
  2. Reach your right hand across your chest underneath you with your palm faced down.
  3. Use your left hand, propped up on fingertips to create space.
  4. Rotate your chest towards the ground to intensify the stretch across the back of your shoulder.
  5. Hold this stretch for 3 breaths, then switch sides and repeat.

Now that you have learned these stretches to fix and relieve tight shoulders, it’s just a matter of remembering to use them.

I recommend following these stretches at least once a week to keep your posture right and your shoulders loose and pain free.

The best strategy to make sure this happens, is to build it into your routine. For most people, adding it in first thing in the morning is the best way to ensure it doesn’t get skipped.

So, try adding this shoulder stretch practice to your weekly routine once a week, first thing in the morning!

source: 13 Stretches for Tight Shoulders

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