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How to Increase Knee and Shoulder Mobility

November 14, 20235 min read

We all have joint troubles to some degree. It could be something simple like an inability to drive your elbows forward on a hang clean, or something more debilitating like not being able to raise your arm over your head.I have knee and shoulder issues myself so I decided to research exercises for these two joints in order to increase my mobility and reduce pain. I figured I’d share my findings with y’all!

The Shoulder:

One of the most common shoulder issues is stiffness in the muscles surrounding the back of the shoulder joint. This is because almost everything we do on a daily basis requires our shoulders to be in the front of the socket. When we type on the computer, open and close doors, or drive, our shoulders are at the front of their sockets. Maybe the only applicable time you are using your posterior muscles would be reaching for items on high shelves (hopefully, not cookies). Now you might ask why does posterior stiffness matter? Well, have you ever had trouble holding the front rack position when squatting? How about getting those elbows out during a hang clean? Even something simple like the overhead press gives people issues. When you fully extend your arm overhead, a lot of people have trouble keeping their bicep next to their ear, this is all due to posterior stiffness.

 But don’t worry. There are stretches and exercises to help with this stiffness. We all know the stretch where we pull our arm across our body, but most people actually do it wrong and it leads to more problems. Rather than pulling it straight across, you need to rotate your shoulder so your forearm is at about a 45-degree angle. Then, you pull it across. This rotation of the shoulder before pulling allows the shoulder to move into the back of the capsule.

Next up is a great way to achieve mobilization in the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint with a heavy kettlebell. This exercise resets your shoulder into proper positioning and stretches the back of the shoulder joint. Not only that, it will also help you get a better understanding for what position we want your shoulders in when we say “break the bar” during bench press and other movements. In order to get set up you need one heavy kettlebell.

You will start in the fetal position just as we do with the Turkish get up.

Then roll onto your back and press that kettlebell straight up as if you were doing a single arm floor press.

After that you will elevate your hips in order to spread those shoulder blades and move that shoulder to the back of the socket.

You will then bring your hips back down to the floor and reach across with your empty hand bringing your arm across your chest and cup your elbow.


You will then externally rotate your arm then bring it back to the baseline and continue this process for about 30 seconds to one minute.

This exercise helps ‘reset’ your shoulder joint as well as reduce stiffness in the muscles surrounding your shoulder joint. This will help you with movements requiring your shoulders to be in the back of the socket such as the front squat and hang clean.

The Knee:

Alright enough about the shoulder let’s move onto some useful knee exercises. The most common cause of knee stiffness or knee pain in general is when one of the structures around your knee is tight or not working properly. The structures in question are most likely your quads, hamstrings, or calves. A great way to knock out two birds with one stone would be the Gap and Smash Mobilizations. This movement reduces tension where your calf and hamstring cross just behind your knee. It is especially great for tight calves which will not only reduce knee problems, but ankle problems as well. With this movement all we will need is a lacrosse ball!

 First you will sit down on the floor with both legs extended.

Next we will bend the knee in question and place a lacrosse ball at either the medial side or later side under the knee.

After that we will sandwich the lacrosse ball behind our knee by bringing our heel as close to our butt as we can while pulling with both hands on our leg. Once in this position begin to move your foot around in all directions.

 If you would like to create extra pressure, plant your foot into the ground and begin scooting your butt towards your heel.

Another common knee issue is pain while bending the knee. A great way to test this is to sit butt to heel, curl your leg so that your calf and hamstring touch each other. If this causes pain or if you feel restriction, then this is the correct exercise for you. All you will need is a small dish towel!

First roll up the small towel and place it behind your knee.

You will then grab the base of your shin and pull your heel towards your butt.

Scoot your butt forward in order to create maximum pressure. Once in this position pulsate in and out of that max pressure point.

 I hope these movements are able to help those of you who have shoulder problems or knee pain. If you have any questions about these movements or would like to learn more feel free to ask me before or after a session, I can walk you through each movement!

Thanks for reading!

-Coach Nick

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Breakaway Fitness & Performance

Breakaway Fitness & Performance focuses on strength training, weight loss, and a healthy lifestyle in their blogs.

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