Open Up Your Shoulders: 5 Stretches You Can Do With a Broomstick


We’ve been doing a lot of handstands around here lately and if you’re anything like me, your shoulders are feeling super tight as a result.

Handstands and other exercises like push ups, planks, and pull ups put a ton of pressure on your shoulders, and keeping your shoulders mobile and flexible is super important to help you maintain good form and prevent injuries.

Unsurprisingly, open shoulders are also important for good posture, so if you don’t want to appear hunched over, make sure to keep your shoulders nice and flexible!

We’ve already touched on warming up the wrists during our Handstand Challenge, and now it’s time to focus on the shoulders.

You can do the following exercises with a PVC pipe or a pilates stick, but the easiest thing to use is a simple broomstick. Everyone has one at home, so put it to good use!

When To Do These Shoulder Stretches

You can do these shoulder stretches before you start your handstand practice, but they also make a great warm-up before your HIIT workouts. You can also add a few of those shoulder-opening movements to your simple three-minute warmup.

Also, if you’re glued to your computer for several hours a day like most of us nowadays are, you may find these exercises extra helpful. Your shoulders most likely get tight as a result of basically not moving them for hours and being in a forced position all day long, so doing these stretches once or twice a day can help counteract the effects of constant sitting.

My office worker clients who do some of these shoulder opening exercises and wrist stretches even just once a day say that they make a really big difference, reducing tightness and improving flexibility. Plus, they’re so simple to do that you won’t even break a sweat if you do them at work or while watching TV at night.

Open Up the Shoulders: 5 Exercises to do With a Broomstick

Here are five simple shoulder opening exercises that you can do anywhere, as long as you have a simple broomstick:

Broomstick Leans

What It Does: Helps to warm up and stretch the muscles in your shoulders, arms, and back. Your hamstrings also get a nice stretch with this one.

How to Do It: Extend the arms straight in front of you. Hold the broomstick from one end and put the other one down. Lean forward, tuck the stomach in, then slightly rock up and down, moving just a few inches.

Next, take the stick in your right hand and repeat. This will make you will feel more of a stretch in your sides. Repeat with the left side.

Back and Front Raise

What It Does: Improves shoulder mobility and stretches the chest and arm muscles.

How to Do It: Start with a pretty wide grip with your hands holding each end of the broomstick. Keep your elbows straight and lift the broomstick up and over your head. Bring it as far back as you can while keeping your elbows straight. Ideally, you want to go all the way down so that the broomstick touches your lower back.

Once you feel comfortable with this width, move your hands a little closer to each other for deeper stretch, as is shown in the video.

To stay safe and prevent hurting your shoulders, be sure to very gradually move your hands closer. Don’t rush it!

Flex and Stretch Behind the Back

What It Does: Stretches the shoulder, arm, and chest muscles and improves elbow joint mobility.

How to Do It: Hold the broomstick in front of you on both ends, keeping your hands pretty wide. Keep your elbows straight and bring the broomstick overhead and back (but not down). Next, bend your elbows and flex them so that the broomstick ends up close the back of your neck. Finally, extend them back to the starting position.

In this exercise, you only move the elbow joint. You should feel the stretch in your shoulder, arm, and chest muscles.

Figure 8

What It Does: Improves shoulder mobility and stretches the chest and arm muscles.

How to Do It: Start with a pretty wide grip on each end of the broomstick. Keep your elbows straight.

Lift up one arm and first bring it up overhead, then down at the back side of your body. Imagine you’re drawing a circle with the stick. At the same time bring your left hand to the back side of your body, close to your lower back.

Next, lift up the left hand and do a similar circle so that the broomstick ends up at the front side of your body, close to your quads. Then, do the right side.

Now tie those movements together into one fluid motion.

When you start feeling comfortable with a wide hold, you can start gradually moving your hands closer together. To stay safe and refrain from hurting your shoulders, be sure not to go narrow too quickly!

“Back Scratcher”

What It Does: Stretches arm and shoulder muscles and improves shoulder mobility.

How to Do It: Hold the middle of the broomstick with one hand. Lift the stick overhead and behind your back and grab it with the free hand from the front side of your body.

Slightly rock the arm by pulling with the lower hand, moving it up and down. Make sure your elbow of your upper arm is pointing to the side.

Open Up Those Shoulders!

Keeping your shoulders healthy and mobile is super important to be able to do so many exercises, including handstands, planks, overhead squats, among others. These five simple shoulder stretches will improve your shoulder mobility and flexibility in only a few minutes a day.

When doing these exercises, don’t try to push too much through the tightness! You should feel a nice stretch when you do them, but never push yourself so far that it causes pain. Rushing can cost you an injury.

Take it slow at first, especially if you know that you’re super tight or if you’ve had problems with your shoulders in the past. Don’t try to hold the broomstick with the narrowest possible hold right from the beginning—get narrower and narrower as you practice.

Happy training!


Kersten Kimura is a NASM PT, kettlebell enthusiast and a fan of HIIT workouts. After relocating from chilly Estonia to California, she has taken full advantage of the area and works out outdoors whenever possible. You can find her throwing around her sandbag or swinging kettlebells at local parks, or sprinting along the gorgeous Bay Trail.

Find out more about Kersten here and sign up for her newsletter to get her one week equipment free workout plan and seven simple dinner recipes.

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