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A Closer Look at Stick Mobility Exercises

This video demonstrates some movement patterns that you can do with a long stick or dowel. I shot this video indoors with hope that closer positioning to my tripod allows for easier viewing of these movements.

Using a stick to take your shoulders through these and other movements can help you identify and work through restrictions in shoulder, trunk, and hip mobility.

The most basic movement is called a shoulder dislocate, commonly used in gymnastics training. To do a shoulder dislocate, start with your hands spread wide apart on your stick, then slowly raise it overhead and if your shoulders allow, finish with the stick behind your lower back, as demonstrated. Then, bring the stick back along the same arc.

The wider your grip on the stick, the easier it is to do a shoulder dislocate. It's best to be ultra conservative when you are first starting.

Ideally, you want to prevent your elbows from bending while you work with a stick in this fashion. If your elbows bend a bit, this is fine, as over time, working through these arcs of movement will improve joint mobility and tissue health to a point where you will find that your arms can remain straight. I have longstanding issues with both of my shoulders and still have to bend my elbows here and there, but since working regularly on my shoulder mobility, I feel active and passive range of motion of my shoulders have improved a lot.

To use a long stick to further improve shoulder mobility by improving shoulder capsule flexibility, start with the stick behind your neck along your upper back. Hold onto the end of the stick with your right hand, then curl your left elbow around the stick so that it is resting in your elbow crease. From this position, you can flex your trunk forward, keeping your knees straight and pulling the stick down toward the ground with your right hand - this will stretch your left shoulder capsule and its surrounding rotator cuff muscles and tendons.

Then, with your hands and arms in the same positions, bend forward from your waist again but tuck the bottom of the left end of the stick through your legs - this will provide an excellent stretch to your right shoulder joint and surrounding soft tissues.

You can repeat this routine on the opposite side.

For an overview of exercise progressions that you can work at to improve your mobility and balance in a systematic way, please feel free to visit our Mobility Exercise Progressions page here:

Mobility Exercise Progressions

For some suggestions on how to set up a simple workout area at home, please feel free to view:

Suggested Resources for a Home Gym


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