Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

Keep your shoulders flexible, strong, and healthy!

*Perform up to 25 repetitions of each exercise below:

Sword Draw: Work through a full range of motion with slow and controlled movements.  This is to increase blood flow to the shoulder joint.


    1. Dowel Shoulder Flexion:  First hold dowel in front of you down by your hips with palms facing down (not shown). Slowly bring your arms up as high as you can without shrugging your shoulders.  If your arms go all the way back, that is fine, but don’t force any movement.
    2. Dowel Shoulder Extension (Palms Up):  a) Start with palms up holding dowel behind your back; b) slowly bring arms up as high as you can without shrugging.  c) For a deeper stretch, take your upper body into a forward fold with your abdominals contracted and knees soft.
    3. Dowel Shoulder Extension (Palms Down):  Repeat Exercises #2 with your palms facing down on the dowel.  Notice the difference felt in the shoulders.


  1. Dowel Shoulder Roll: With arms extended overhead, attempt to roll the right shoulder forward and back as much as possible. You may need to look in a mirror to get the hang of it. Perform up to 25 reps; repeat on left.
  2. Dowel Passive Rotation (External Rotation): Hold onto dowel with your left hand. Press the end of the dowel into the right palm and rotate the right arm out as much as possible while keeping your right elbow close to your side and as relaxed as possible.
  3. Dowel Passive Slide (Internal Rotation): Pull (slide) the dowel to the right using your right hand while lightly holding down in the left hand. Guide your left hand being you as much as possible which will bring the left shoulder into rotation.
  4. Horizontal Rotation with Tubing: Lie on your back with your elbow bent at 90 degrees facing away from the tube anchor point (see pictures below on the two separate ways to anchor resistance tubes). Slowly pull the tube down feeling the rotation in the shoulder. The only joint in motion is the shoulder joint. Perform up to 25 reps per arm for 1-2 sets. Next turn body 180 degrees with feet towards anchor point. Pull tube up by rotating through the shoulder joint.

When performing standing external rotation (#2 picture above), keep your elbow close to your body. This exercise targets the back of the shoulder (the deep stabilizers of the shoulder). When performing internal rotation (#3 picture above), you will target the deep muscles that stabilize the front of the shoulder.

If you don’t think you will lay on the floor to perform the horizontal rotation exercises, then a secondary option is to do them standing (shown below). Even better is resting your elbow on a stable surface.

Do this shoulder workout at least two days per week to help your shoulders stay healthy and injury free! I do mine while watching my reality tv shows.

* Consult your physician before starting any new exercise program.

4 thoughts on “Exercises for Healthy Shoulders

  1. Some of these look familiar and others are new and I can add to my weekly routine. My frozen shoulder has completely thawed, but I still do strengthening and stretching exercises for my shoulders to keep my range of motion. Thanks for sharing these!

    • Hi Becky,

      I’m so glad your shoulder has healed AND that you are still doing your exercises. If you have any questions on the new ones, let me know.

      Hope all is well in the wild west. 😉

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