Featured image of post Shoulder Stretches for Runners: Maintaining Upper Body Flexibility

Shoulder Stretches for Runners: Maintaining Upper Body Flexibility

Unlock your running potential with these effective shoulder stretches. Improve shoulder flexibility, reduce injury risk, and enhance your running form by incorporating these stretches into your routine. Discover the benefits of dynamic and static stretches, injury prevention exercises, and mobility exercises for optimal shoulder health.

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Shoulder Stretches for Runners: Maintaining Upper Body Flexibility


As a runner, you know that flexibility is crucial for maintaining optimal performance and reducing the risk of injuries. While much of the focus is often on the lower body, the importance of shoulder flexibility should not be overlooked. Strong, flexible shoulders not only improve your running form but also contribute to overall upper body strength and stability.

Incorporating regular shoulder stretches into your training routine can provide a host of benefits. Improved shoulder mobility can enhance your running technique, allowing for a more efficient and powerful arm swing. Additionally, well-stretched shoulder muscles are less prone to tightness and soreness, which can interfere with your training and recovery.

Pre-Run Stretches

Before hitting the pavement, it’s essential to prepare your shoulders for the demands of running. Dynamic stretches are an excellent way to warm up the upper body and increase range of motion. Start with arm circles, gently rotating your arms forward and backward to loosen the shoulder joints. Next, try shoulder rolls, rolling your shoulders up, back, and down in a smooth, circular motion.

One of the most effective pre-run shoulder stretches is the cross-body arm stretch. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend one arm across your body, and use your other hand to gently pull the arm closer to your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.

Post-Run Stretches

After your run, it’s time to focus on static stretches that target the shoulder muscles and improve overall flexibility. The overhead triceps stretch is a great option – stand tall, raise one arm overhead, and gently pull your elbow behind your head with your other hand. You can also try the chest stretch by standing in a doorway, placing your forearms on the frame, and leaning forward to feel the stretch across your chest and shoulders.

Another beneficial post-run stretch is the doorway stretch. Stand in a doorway, place your hands on the frame at shoulder height, and step forward, keeping your arms straight to feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest.

Injury Prevention Stretches

Certain shoulder stretches can also help prevent common running-related injuries. The sleeper stretch targets the posterior shoulder, an area that is prone to tightness and imbalances. Lie on your side with your bottom arm extended, and use your top hand to gently pull your arm across your body.

For the external rotation stretch, stand with your arm at a 90-degree angle, elbow tucked in, and use a towel or resistance band to apply gentle pressure, rotating your arm outward. This stretch helps maintain healthy shoulder mechanics and reduce the risk of impingement.

The wall slide is another excellent exercise for improving shoulder mobility and stability. Stand with your back against a wall, arms raised overhead, and slowly slide your arms up and down the wall, keeping your back in contact with the surface.

Mobility Exercises

In addition to stretching, incorporating shoulder mobility exercises into your routine can further enhance your range of motion and overall shoulder health. Try shoulder flexion and extension by raising your arms overhead and then lowering them behind your back. Shoulder abduction and adduction involve moving your arms out to the sides and then back across your body.

Shoulder rotation exercises, such as arm circles or controlled rotations with a resistance band, can also improve shoulder mobility and stability, which are crucial for maintaining proper running form and reducing the risk of injury.

Stretching Benefits

Consistent shoulder stretching and mobility work can provide a multitude of benefits for runners. Improved flexibility and range of motion can lead to a more efficient arm swing, reducing strain on the shoulders and upper body. This, in turn, can enhance running performance and help prevent muscle soreness and stiffness.

Additionally, well-stretched shoulder muscles are less prone to injury, as they are better equipped to handle the repetitive stress of running. By prioritizing shoulder flexibility, you can reduce your risk of common issues like impingement, rotator cuff strains, and bursitis.

Flexibility Training

Effective flexibility training requires consistency, patience, and proper form. Aim to incorporate shoulder stretches and mobility exercises into your routine at least 2-3 times per week, allowing for gradual progression and improvement over time. Pay close attention to your body’s cues, and never push a stretch to the point of pain.

Remember, flexibility is a journey, not a destination. By making shoulder stretching a regular part of your training, you’ll enjoy the long-term benefits of improved upper body mobility, reduced injury risk, and enhanced running performance.

Running Warm-Up

Incorporating shoulder stretches into your pre-run warm-up routine is an excellent way to prepare your body for the demands of running. By spending a few minutes focusing on your upper body flexibility, you’ll help ensure that your shoulders are ready to handle the repetitive motion of your arm swing, reducing the risk of tightness or discomfort during your run.

A well-rounded warm-up that includes dynamic shoulder stretches can also improve your overall running form, allowing for a more efficient and powerful stride.

Running Cool-Down

Just as important as the pre-run warm-up, the post-run cool-down and stretching routine should not be overlooked. After a challenging run, your shoulder muscles may be tight and fatigued, making them more susceptible to injury.

Taking the time to stretch and cool down your shoulders can help alleviate muscle soreness, improve recovery, and maintain the flexibility gains you’ve worked hard to achieve. By making shoulder stretches a consistent part of your running routine, you’ll be well on your way to improved upper body mobility and a reduced risk of injury.


Shoulder flexibility is a crucial, yet often overlooked, aspect of running performance and injury prevention. By incorporating a variety of shoulder stretches and mobility exercises into your training routine, you can enjoy the benefits of improved upper body flexibility, enhanced running form, and a reduced risk of shoulder-related injuries.

Remember to be consistent, patient, and attentive to your body’s needs as you work to maintain and improve your shoulder flexibility. With a little dedication, you’ll be well on your way to running stronger, more efficiently, and with greater confidence in your upper body strength and mobility.

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