How to Do Forward Shoulder Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a forward shoulder raise exercise to help with shoulder and arm strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
forward-shoulder-raise-claudia-hold-other

How to Do Forward Shoulder Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a forward shoulder raise exercise to help with shoulder and arm strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
forward-shoulder-raise-claudia-hold-other

How to Do Forward Shoulder Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a forward shoulder raise exercise to help with shoulder and arm strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
forward-shoulder-raise-claudia-hold-other

How to Do Forward Shoulder Raise: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do a forward shoulder raise exercise to help with shoulder and arm strength, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Oct 5, 2023
forward-shoulder-raise-claudia-hold-other
Table of Contents

Ever feel a twinge of shoulder pain or discomfort when you reach up to shampoo your hair or grab something from a high shelf? This is something that many people experience from time to time. It’s also something that can usually be addressed with some stretching and targeted exercise, like a forward shoulder raise. This simple exercise can help provide better support and stability to the shoulder joint, which can also help with joint pain and muscle soreness.

Here, learn more about the benefits of the forward shoulder raise and how you can incorporate it into your routine — plus ways to modify it to be easier or more challenging. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is a Forward Shoulder Raise?

The forward shoulder raise, sometimes referred to as a "front raise," is an exercise that targets the front part of the shoulder. It involves raising your arm in front of your body and overhead to help improve shoulder strength. 

What Muscles Does the Forward Shoulder Raise Work? 

The forward shoulder raise primarily targets the muscles in the shoulders, specifically the: 

  • Deltoid, especially the front deltoid. This is the muscle that’s responsible for flexing the arm at the shoulder joint, which is the main movement when you raise your arm in front of you.

  • Rotator cuff muscles, a group of muscles and tendons that provide stability and range of motion to the shoulder. They start at your shoulder blade and connect to the head of the humerus (arm), forming a cuff as they wrap around your shoulder and upper arm.

  • Serratus anterior, which is the muscle that runs along the side of the ribcage and helps stabilize the scapula (shoulder blade). 

  • Biceps, an upper arm muscle. The biceps helps stabilize your shoulder when raising your hand above your head, especially when holding a weight or working against resistance. 

  • Upper chest muscles, including the pectoralis major and pectoralis minor (pecs). Strong upper chest muscles help support your shoulder joint.

Benefits of the Forward Shoulder Raise

The forward shoulder raise strengthens the front deltoid and several other muscles, which can make a variety of everyday activities easier and reduce the risk of injury. For instance, you may notice that lifting objects — like a box from the ground, something from a low shelf, a heavy bag, or a child — may be easier. Pushing and pulling can also be more comfortable. This might include pushing a lawnmower, wheelbarrow, cart, stroller, or heavy door. And raising objects overhead — like when putting dishes away in upper cabinets or stowing luggage in overhead compartments on planes — may also feel better.  

Another bonus: A forward shoulder raise is a simple exercise you can do just about anywhere with minimal to no equipment, making it an excellent “movement snack” you can add to your day.

Forward Shoulder Raise: Exercises and Modifications 

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

Forward Shoulder Raise

Forward Shoulder Raise

Forward Shoulder Raise

Forward Shoulder Raise

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To do a forward shoulder raise: 

  • Start by standing with your arms resting comfortably at your sides. 

  • Raise one arm up in front of your body and toward the ceiling while keeping your arm straight.  

  • Hold this position at the top for a few moments and then return your arm to your side.

Forward Shoulder Raise modifications

Forward Shoulder Raise modifications

Forward Shoulder Raise modifications

Forward Shoulder Raise modifications

To make a forward shoulder raise easier:  

  • Bend your elbow a bit when raising your arm. 

  • Limit how far you lift your arm toward the ceiling, reaching only as far as is comfortable for you. 

To make a forward shoulder raise harder: 

  • Stand on the end of a non-looped resistance band and hold the other end of the band while you raise your arm to add resistance. 

  • You can also hold a weight, like a dumbbell or a pint or gallon of milk, while you do this exercise. 

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program. 

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.  

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you. 

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Lowe, R., O'Reilly, N., Pavaskar, S., Jackson, K., Knott, C., & van Niekerk, W. (n.d.). Therapeutic Exercise for the Shoulder. Physiopedia. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Therapeutic_Exercise_for_the_Shoulder  

  2. Lee, D. Y., Nam, C. W., Sung, Y. B., Kim, K., & Lee, H. Y. (2017). Changes in rounded shoulder posture and forward head posture according to exercise methods. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(10), 1824–1827. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.1824

  3. Botton, C. E., Radaelli, R., Wilhelm, E. N., Rech, A., Brown, L. E., & Pinto, R. S. (2016). Neuromuscular Adaptations to Unilateral vs. Bilateral Strength Training in Women. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 30(7), 1924–1932. doi:10.1519/jsc.0000000000001125