The Stiff Shoulder Solution

How Older Adults and Masters Athletes fix their shoulders and improve performance


Our shoulders take a licking and keep on ticking…until they don’t. Sometimes it starts with some shoulder stiffness, maybe some aches and pains. However, the underlying issue is present long before symptoms appear, and that is immobile shoulder blades, or scapulas. In the majority of our senior fitness or masters athlete clients we see this stiff shoulder syndrome where the scapulas don’t move as they should.

According to Dr. Mike Reeder (a shoulder orthopedic doctor), most shoulder issues can be improved through scapular training (movement and mobility). I got these 3 exercises from him and want to share them with you. They are the bent-over T, Y, and Scarecrow. One fringe benefit from these series that I love, is that it trains you to brace your core and back in this bent-over or deadlift position.

In case you didn’t catch all the phases of the exercises, below are the 3 distinct positions: the starting position, the shoulders moving, and the arms moving into position.

Bent-Over T’s

1a. Bend over, black flat.
1a. Bend over, black flat.
1b. Pull shoulders together (retract)
1b. Pull shoulders together (retract)
bent-over-t-top
1c. Raise arms to plane of the body while still squeezing shoulders together.
bent-over-t-aerial
1c. Raise arms to plane of the body while still squeezing shoulders together.

Bent-Over Y’s

2a. Bend over, back flat and braced core
2a. Bend over, back flat and braced core
2b. Pull shoulders together into the spine (retract).
2b. Pull shoulders together into the spine (retract).
2c. Raise arms up into a ‘Y’ overhead. (Remember to pull the shoulder blades back down and together as you reverse the movement)
2c. Raise arms up into a ‘Y’ overhead. (Remember to pull the shoulder blades back down and together as you reverse the movement)

Bent-Over Scarecrows

3a. Bend over, brace core, back flat
3a. Bend over, brace core, back flat
3b. Pull shoulders together (retract) while bringing elbows up to plane of the body. Keep 90 degrees at the shoulder and elbow.
3b. Pull shoulders together (retract) while bringing elbows up to plane of the body. Keep 90 degrees at the shoulder and elbow.
3c. Rotate the arms to raise the wrists to the plane of the body. Shoulder shouldn’t move-just arms.
3c. Rotate the arms to raise the wrists to the plane of the body. Shoulder shouldn’t move-just arms.