Top 3 Shoulder Exercises to improve External Range of Motion

Working with a lot tennis players and overhead throwing athletes  means that we are usually dealing with shoulder issues and reducing the risk of rotator cuff injuries.

There is a lot of  “stuff” to look for when dealing with overhead athletes and shoulder issues. Generally, you want to take a look at T spine rotation range of movement, internal and external rom and scapula stability issues like winging.

For more information on  training athletes and clients with shoulder issues check out Optimal Shoulder Performance, by Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold. There is  a ton of info regarding training the injured shoulder and specific shoulder pathologies such as internal vs external impingement and manual techniques to improve dynamic stability of the  rotator cuff.

Alright now to get into the importance of  external range of motion.  Basically the service motion, specifically the cocking phase requires the athlete to externally rotate the shoulder through an extreme range of motion. This is also similar to throwing a baseball.

Take a look at the images  of the service and throwing motion.

Without the flexibility to externally rotate the shoulder the athlete is predisposed to myriad of potential injuries.

Below is a list of our 3 favorite exercises to improve external range of motion.

1. Wall Slides. These are great for lower trap activation and since you are improving external range of motion you will also lengthen the pecs if they are tight.

2. Side Lying extension with rotation

This exercises helps to stretch out the pec minor while also improving thoracic extension with rotation.

The pec minor internally rotates the shoulder so stretching it out helps improve your external range of motion.

Check out the video on how to perform the exercise.

3. No Money Drill with bands.

In addition to performing these drills, make sure to stretch out your pecs and lats as they work to internally rotate the shoulder. When these muscles are tight they reduce the external range of motion of the shoulder and also affect the ability of rotator cuff to stabilize the humerus. When you stretch out the internal rotators you end up gaining motion into external rotation and this works similarly with  the hips and  how tight hip flexors limit hip extension from the glutes. By strengthening the hip extensors you end up improving flexibility in the hip flexors.

Here’s a great lat stretch that we use with a jump stretch band.

Stay healthy and train hard.



5 thoughts on “Top 3 Shoulder Exercises to improve External Range of Motion

Add yours

  1. These are excellent exercises for improving external rotation. How often do you recommend doing them? If an athlete has a shoulder injury, are there any limitations?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    1. Thanks for the comment Chris and those are great questions. I usually recommend doing the wall slides for 20-30secs 2-3 sets. I use the no money drill with a 5 sec isometric hold at the end range with the band for a set of 10 making sure you don’t go to failure and regarding the side lying extension and rotation a set or two of 8-10reps on each side works well. These are just guidelines and the client should feel free to add more or less sets depending on how restricted they are. If someone is really tight and is pretty limited in external rom, I recommend doing the exercises multiple times a day especially the side lying rotation and extension and doing them at least 4 times a week.

      As far as limitations, there isn’t a short answer to that question but if the client experiences pain in the front of the shoulder I recommend that he go to qualified sports chiro or physical therapist to get it checked out and diagnosed. Depending on whether the client has external impingement, internal impingement, sub acromial impingement we would address the situation differently. Also I highly recommend getting soft tissue work in addition to the exercises to rip up the pec minor, scalenes,upper traps etc.

  2. Pingback: Nibiru News

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: