| Food & Diet

Movements Of The Shoulder Joint

By Jayton Miller

The shoulder is one of the most important yet easily damaged joints in the upper body. From rotator cuff issues, poor shoulder mobility, and torn ligaments, shoulders tend to take a beating throughout a person’s life. In this article, we are going to take a look at the movements of the shoulder joint, some shoulder anatomy, and some ways to keep the shoulder healthy. Let’s dive in...


General Function Of The Shoulder:

General Function Of The Shoulder Joint


The shoulder joint is what is known as a ball and socket joint that allows for 360 degrees of movement. This amount of movement leads to relatively large amounts of flexibility relying on the pectoral girdle for a lot of its stability.

There are several ways that the shoulder joint is said to move about:

  • Adduction - moving towards the body
  • Abduction - moving away from the body (think being abducted away from our planet by aliens)
  • Flexion - forward movement
  • Extension - backward movement
  • Lateral Rotation
  • Circumduction - moving the arm in a full circle

The main muscles involved in the movement of the shoulder are:

  • Deltoid Muscles
  • Pectoralis Major
  • Biceps Brachii
  • Brachioradialis
  • Subscapularis
  • Coracobrachialis
  • Teres Major and Minor
  • Latissimus Dorsi
  • Triceps Brachii
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus

These muscles are mostly attached to the clavicles and scapulae helping with the support of the shoulder joint. There could be other smaller muscles or muscles further away that can play a role in shoulder movement (like the trapezius), but these are the heavy hitters.

Read More: Is Stretching Useless?

Shoulder Joint Stability:

Shoulder Joint Stability

Shoulder joint stability is crucial for anyone. Without should joint stability we probably wouldn’t be able to to pick up hardly anything that weighs more than 5 pounds. Keeping the shoulder joint healthy by knowing which muscles are responsible for this and how to take care of them is extremely important for anyone looking for healthy shoulders.

The rotator cuff is the main part of the shoulder joint muscles that are responsible for its stability during movement. The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that pull the humerus into the socket leading to stability.

The four muscles that make up the rotator cuff are:

  • Subscapularis
  • Supraspinatus
  • Infraspinatus
  • Teres Minor

When these muscles are damaged or weakened we then begin to see “rotator cuff problems” which seems to be an epidemic, especially in active individuals. This can lead to disability and if severe shoulder joint dislocation.

Read More: Movement Is Medicine | A Guide To Moving Better

How To Keep Healthy Shoulders With Full Mobility:

How To keep Your Shoulder Joints Healthy

Like I have said previously, keeping healthy should joints is a must if you want to remain even remotely capable as a human being. Injuries to the shoulder joints are crippling and surprisingly affect [4 million people](https://www.prolianceorthopedicassociates.com/news/how-many-us-citizens-suffer-shoulder-problems#:~:text=According to the American Academy,citizens suffer shoulder problems yearly.) in the U.S. alone EVERY YEAR!

In general having a healthy diet and remaining active is going to play a massive role in the health of your shoulder, especially in the long term. Taking steps to strengthen the muscles that are responsible for the movement of the shoulder is another crucial piece to the puzzle.

Here are 5 exercises that you can do to keep your shoulder joints healthy:

  • Arch Up - This one has several exercises layered into one since you don’t have to move anything but the angle of your arms. Lying face down on the floor making sure that your lower back is not over arched, reach your arms over head and with your thumbs facing the ceiling simply lift them as high as you can and then go back down. After doing that for about 10 reps, move your arms straight out to the side like you are making a t with your body and with your thumbs up reach as high as you can and then go back down in a controlled fashion.
  • Banded Y-Raise - Find a thin band (or use a cable) and set it underneath your feet and move your arms up overhead into a Y-shape. 
  • Banded W-Raise - Find a thin band and hold either side with your hands and spread your hands out into a W shape.
  • Shoulder CARs (Controlled Articular Rotation) - Take the shoulder through a full range of motion (click here)
  • Swimmers - Lie down into a prone position with your hands at your side and lift them as high as you can behind your body. Then move the arms around in a clock-like motion around your body to up over your head, then drop the arms to the floor and reverse the motion.


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Overall, the movement of the shoulder joint is complex, and has many pieces that play role in it. Knowing the anatomy of the shoulder joint, how it works, and ways your can strengthen the muscles involved in the movement of the shoulder joint will help you keep healthy shoulders for the rest of your life.