The Ultimate Guide To Shoulder Dislocations

November 4, 2015 by VAHVA Fitness

Shoulder dislocation is one of the best exercises you can do for your shoulder health and to prevent injuries. ´╗┐They´╗┐ can also be a real strength builder. 

Shoulder dislocations can be done with any stick you have access to: broomsticks, exercise sticks and even barbells. They can also be done with an elastic band or with a towel.

Shoulder dislocations are the best bang for your buck exercise when it comes to developing and maintaining shoulder flexibility and strength in the shoulder girdle.

In this article we have demonstrated 3 different ways of doing shoulder dislocations, why you should do shoulder dislocations and how to make them significantly harder.

We have used a small plate in the middle of the stick, but you can also use just the stick. 

4 Reasons Why You Need to Do Shoulder Dislocations

1. Shoulder dislocations will increase your shoulder flexibility

You will notice serious improvement in your shoulder flexibility only one week after doing shoulder dislocations.

Shoulder flexibility is important in order to prevent injuries (shoulder injuries are one of the most common injuries lifters experience) and to improve your posture.

2. Shoulder dislocations will develop strength in the muscles you've never heard of

When you keep your arms straight and locked, the entire range of motion is done with the shoulder girdle (scapula). 

The tiny muscles in the rotator cuff like infraspinatus and subscapularis and other scapula muscles are developed to a great extent. If you only do exercises with bent arms, these small muscles might be underdeveloped. 

3. Shoulder dislocations will develop tendon strength

Especially the tendons in your elbows will get stronger - and fast. Tendons in wrists and shoulders are also nicely strengthened to withstand more stress.

Tendon strength in elbows and wrists is extremely important if you want to keep your joints healthy.

The most common injuries like tennis elbow and golfer's elbow can be prevented with enough preparation (which includes shoulder dislocations). 

4. Your body will be properly prepared to perform harder exercises

Many calisthenics moves such as planche, handstands and levers are done with straight arms. 

Shoulder dislocations will prepare you to tackle these exercises in the future and make sure your tendons and muscles can take the stress of the advanced exercises.  

Shoulder Dislocation Variations

There is two ways to perform every variation of the shoulder dislocation we have illustrated below.

The way you hold the stick will significantly change the nature and benefits of the exercise. 

Overhand Shoulder Dislocations

overhand dislocation shoulder

Overhand shoulder dislocations are the common way to do the exercise.

You are holding the stick in front of your body and the back sides of your hands are facing forward. 

Underhand Shoulder Dislocations

shoulders dislocations

With underhand shoulder dislocates exercise you begin the exercise with the stick behind your back. 

You are using a supinated underhand grip, where the back sides of your hands are facing backwards. Your shoulder are maximally externally rotated, which means the exercise will hit your shoulders very differently. 

3 Ways to Do Shoulder Dislocations

Standing Shoulder Dislocations

dislocation shoulders
shoulder dislocation

Overhand shoulder dislocation. 

shoulder dislocation underhand
underhand dislocations shoulder

Underhand shoulder dislocation. 

This is the most common way to perform the shoulder dislocation exercise. Take a grip you feel comfortable with and then rotate the stick until it's behind your back. If you take the supinated grip, then you start the exercise hands behind your back. 

If it feels a little bit tight, that's ok because you want to improve the shoulder flexibility. Standing shoulder dislocation will also develop your anterior and lateral deltoids and the long head of triceps. 

Many people do this exercise by using momentum, which is also ok, but the greatest benefits are gained when you do this exercise with 100% control and with a steady rhythm. 

Bent Shoulder Dislocations

bent overhand dislocations
shoulders dislocations

Overhand bent shoulder dislocation. 

underhand dislocation bent
underhand shoulders dislocation

Underhand bent shoulder dislocation. 

With bent shoulder dislocations you bent your body to a 90 degree angle and do the exact same rotation with your shoulders.

The exercise has changed significantly though, because the entire angle of your body has changed. The angle of this exercise is very easy to adjust by moving your body. 

Bent shoulder dislocations will develop the trapezius muscles to a great extent.

The bent shoulder dislocations with an underhand grip will also heavily target the posterior deltoids. The underhand dislocation will also require an immense amount of shoulder flexibility, but as a result develops it very nicely. 

Prone Shoulder Dislocations

prone shoulder dislocation
shoulders dislocation

Overhand prone shoulder dislocation. 

dislocating shoulders
shoulder dislocations underhand

Underhand prone shoulder dislocation. 

The angle of your upper body is similar to the bent shoulder dislocations, but this variation is significantly harder.

Although it seems like that the range of motion is cut in half when compared to the bent shoulder dislocations, prone dislocations are a much harder exercise.

Your trapezius muscles need to flex from a muscle length they are weak at, and you cannot create any momentum with your front deltoids like you would with bent shoulder dislocations. 

Prone shoulder dislocations are an amazing exercise to develop real raw strength in the upper trapezius muscles. Like with the other shoulder dislocation variations, the shoulder mobility is also developed amazingly well.

Shoulder Dislocations Programming

You can do shoulder dislocations in the end of your workout or as an effective way to warm-up your joints and shoulders for your workout. 

You can do 3-5 sets and 5 to 20 repetitions per each set. You'll notice that 5 repetitions will be enough with the bent and prone shoulder dislocations.

You can do each of these variations both in underhand and overhand fashion. The variations will hit the muscles very differently, hence it's recommended to do them all.

You should begin with an empty stick and a grip you feel comfortable with. After you learn the correct form, you can make the dislocations harder by: 

  • Using a narrower grip. The goal is to make your grip narrower while your shoulder flexibility progresses. 
  • Adding weight. With weights, shoulder dislocations can be a serious strength building exercise. 

Start cautiously. Tendons and joints take significantly longer time to recover compared to muscles.

If you want to do shoulder dislocations only once a week - that's ok. You can also do them many times a week if you feel your tendons and shoulder can take it.

Train hard, stay safe.


samuli jyrkinen

About the author 

Samuli Jyrkinen

Samuli is the ninja behind the scenes (photography, videography, websites, program platforms and more). He has been training religiously for over a decade and has a firm grasp of physical and mental fitness. You will find our story here.

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  • I dislocated my shoulder 7 months ago. I’ve kept up my exercises. But, no one mentions that muscle spasms occurs from the exercises. The muscle spasms were as painful as when the dislocation happened. This happened at midnight! Painful. My arm was sore the next day and I did only light exercises. Then, I’ll increase the exercises and build up my strength again!

    • I would advice to recover well and work within your limits. Fitness is a long game and progress is not made or lost very fast.

      • mr. Eero. first to thank for your great material. Im trying to do the shoulder dislocates …the basic one (overhand shoulder dislocates) but when trying to go back (from top to back motion ) i cant….what can i do to improve that range of motion to complete the shoulder dislocate motion….regards from Panama…Gabriel

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