How to Get Full Range of Motion in Shoulder

What is full range of motion in the shoulder?

An important question to establish before we tackle the title of this blog, namely ‘how to gain full range in your shoulder.’

‘Full range of motion’ in medical terms is 180 degrees of shoulder flexion, and abduction, 45-60 degrees for shoulder extension, 30-50 degrees for adduction (across your body), 70-90 degrees for medial/internal rotation, and 90 degrees for lateral/external rotation. In reality, it is often sensible to take off 10-15 degrees off the flexion and abduction value – as if we were to try to attain these, it would possibly lead to injury!


How to gain full range of motion in the shoulder


(scapular and thoracic position)

I would not be a Physio if I did not address this foundational truth. If we adopt poor positions of our shoulder, neck and spine for long periods of time, it will almost always lead to a change in muscle length and strength.

It is important to say though, that research has found zero correlation between poor sitting posture in the short term for neck pain. “Short term” is the keyword here.


Regular flexibility exercises

Static stretches

Stretch until you feel a strong stretch, then hold the position for 30 seconds. Repeat x3.


Find your maximum range, then move in and out of it through leg or arm swings.

PNF (proprioneurofacilitation)

See our other blog on How to improve range of motion in shoulders for how to conduct PNF flexibility exercises.


To offset muscle tightness – imagine tug of war and one team is pulling, the other is not.


In conclusion

To get full range of motion in your shoulder we would encourage a triad of interventions. Firstly, ensure that you do not adopt poor posture for prolonged periods of time, secondly, actively engage in regular flexibility exercises and finally, complete specific strengthening exercises. If you require some guidance, you can book in for a free Physiotherapy call today.