How to Do Wall Slides: A Hinge Health Guide

Learn how to do wall slides to increase shoulder and upper back strength and mobility, plus modifications to make this exercise easier or harder.

Published Date: Mar 27, 2024
Table of Contents

Got upper back or shoulder pain? Many of us spend the majority of our day sitting, whether in a car, at a desk, or somewhere else. While it’s not always possible to control how much you have to sit, being sedentary for long stretches can be a major contributor to upper body aches and pains. 

The good news is that there are many ways you can alleviate discomfort and promote general health, including frequent movement breaks and simple stretching and strengthening exercises. Among these exercises, wall slides shine as a prime example. 

Here, we’ll delve into how wall slides can strengthen your back and shoulder muscles and alleviate pain, and discuss how incorporating this exercise into your routine can improve your overall well-being.

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.

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What Are Wall Slides?

Wall slides are a type of exercise that helps to increase strength and mobility in your shoulder and upper back muscles. It involves pressing your forearms against a wall and sliding your arms up and down. 

What Muscles Do Wall Slides Work? 

Wall slides primarily target the muscles of your upper back, shoulders, and arms. Here’s a closer look: 

  • Upper back: Your upper back muscles, especially the trapezius, stabilize the shoulder blades and help you maintain an upright posture. They also help you lift, carry, and pull objects, reach overhead and behind your back, and do activities like playing tennis, doing push-ups, swimming, and throwing. 

  • Shoulders: The deltoid and rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders contribute to shoulder stability and control. They help you extend your arms in front of you (like when you brush your hair or get dressed). They are also engaged during cleaning, gardening, and carrying groceries, and they help you maintain balance during activities like walking and running. 

Wall slides also engage your forearm and core muscles to a smaller extent, including the abdominal muscles, erector spinae, and obliques, as they assist in maintaining your posture and stability throughout the exercise.

Benefits of Wall Slides 

Wall slides help to build strength and flexibility in your shoulders and upper back. This helps you sit and stand upright and do activities like lifting and reaching for objects overhead. It also helps with upper body stability and core activation, which helps you stay balanced in everyday activities. 

Plus, wall slides can be done virtually anywhere with a wall. They require minimal equipment or space, making them a convenient ‘movement snack’ option. They are a great way to stretch your upper body during your workday or during times where you haven’t moved much and feel a little stiff. 

Wall Slide Exercise Variations

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.

Wall Slides

Wall Slides

Wall Slides

Wall Slides

To do a wall slide: 

  • Stand with your forearms at shoulder height and press your arms against a wall in front of you to round your upper back. Your fingers should be pointing up and the pinky side of your hand should touch the wall so your palms face one another. 

  • Slide your forearms up toward the ceiling as you gently push your forearms into the wall. 

  • Hold this position at the top as you continue to gently push into the wall.  

  • Slide your forearms back down the wall to return to your starting position. 

You should feel your shoulder, arm, and upper back muscles working with each repetition. 

Everyone is different, which is why you may need to modify wall slides to meet your needs.

Wall Slides Modifications

Wall Slides Modifications

Wall Slides Modifications

Wall Slides Modifications

To make wall slides easier:  

  • Limit how far you slide your forearms up the wall. 

To make wall slides harder: 

  • Hold a resistance band between your hands — keeping a slight stretch in the band as you do so — to increase resistance. 

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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  1. Thoracic Spine Major Muscles. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from

  2. Deltoid. (n.d.). Physiopedia. Retrieved from