Upper Body Mobility -Seychelle SIC Talk Stories

Upper Body Mobility for SUP

Hello and welcome to the monthly “How to” blog on Seychelle SUP!

Today we’re going to be doing some upper body mobility moves and stretches!

This blog post is adapted from my popular SIC Maui Talk Story series. If you would rather watch the video and follow along with the live demos, you can view the video on the Seychelle SUP app by clicking here:

Upper Body Mobility


What You Need:

  1. A yoga mat
  2. A foam roller or yoga blocks or a pillow or a big towel rolled up
  3. A doorway

Grab these items and let’s do some stretching and moving together!

Start lying down on your back with knees bent. Arms down by your sides.

Take a couple of nice deep breaths.

Feel the ribcage and the low back lift off the mat as you inhale and then relax back down as you exhale, pressing the whole back flat onto the mat .

Take some more breaths like this, expanding and lifting on the inhale, then relaxing and pressing down, grounding the whole back down into the mat on the exhale.

Main Set

1. Shoulder Slides

Find a neutral spine. Not in that arch position, but also not pressing the back flat into the mat. It’s gonna be right in between those two. When you find that right in between, you’re going to reach the arms up overhead while trying to keep the ribcage in that position.

Notice if as you reach the arms up overhead, the ribcage starts to flare and the back wants to arch and come up. Try to keep that neutral position with the ribcage drawing down as you reach the arms overhead, thumbs down. Take a nice big reach and then lengthen, lengthen, lengthen the sides of the body.

Take a couple of deep breaths here. We’re going to drag the thumbs down along the body trying to keep the thumbs down. Keep the ribcage down.  Reach up overhead. Drag the thumbs. This is going to automatically, naturally, externally rotate in your shoulder. Just doing some nice reach ups, thumbs down. Let’s go a few more times. Nice, soft and relaxed in the elbows and in the wrists.

Now reach up and over head and place the back of the hands flat down onto the ground. Keep the backs of the hands on the ground as you pull the elbows down. Draw the elbows down towards the hips, keep the backs of the hands pressing down / keep the backs of the hands sliding along the floor. Go as far as you can with the backs of the hands down. You’ll notice even more of an external rotation in the shoulders.

Reach back up. Keep the ribcage down as you reach up. Keep the back of the hands down as you reach the elbows down.

Inhale, reach up. Exhale, draw down.

Perform several more of these floor shoulder floor slides. You don’t need to reach so that your hands are touching. The hands can stay comfortably shoulder width apart. You want to also make sure that when you reach up, the shoulder isn’t hiking up towards the ear. As you reach up, the shoulders stay pulling back. Drawing down away from the ears.

Let’s do a couple more slides here.

2. Knee Over Shoulder Slides

Now, you’re going to take one knee over. One leg goes straight, the other knee stays bent and goes over and across your body.

Circle the arm on the same side as the knee that’s bent and over, up overhead as you draw that shoulder blade down. Drag your thumb along the ground.

If it feels good, take your opposite hand can to the top of the bent knee and encourage it down.

Make a few really big circles with your arm here.

Think thoracic mobility, rotational mobility. This movement is really big for paddlers. And this stretch is a nice, gentle way to improve it. If you cannot drag your thumb along the ground, you know you might need to work on your thoracic mobility.

If this is too deep of a twist for you, place a little bit of extra support underneath that bent knee to help reduce the twist. If you have a block, bolster, pillow, or rolled up towel, it can make this a little bit easier for you.

Do about 8 big arm circles on each side, dragging the thumb. Then go ahead and bend both knees, pull them into your chest and rest here.

3. Thoracic Rotational Stability

Roll on to one side. Knees bent. Knees together. Elbows together.

Keeping the knees and one elbow over to one side,  on an inhale, take the top elbow up and across the body as you open and twist. Bringing the shoulder towards the ground.  Deep inhale. Big twist.

Exhale and bring the elbows back together. Back to one side. Inhale, open and twist bringing the top shoulder to towards the ground on the opposite side. Exhale and close. Bring it all back together. Move with your breath. The breath is really important because you want to think about lengthening and expanding. Lengthening through the torso, expanding through the ribcage on the inhale when you open.  As you expand and as you create more space with your breath in your torso, in your ribcage, that’s what’s gonna help open you up to find more range of motion in this thoracic rotational mobility.

Do a couple more on one side.  Bring both knees back to center and over to the other side.

Inhale to open. Exhale to close. Nice deep breaths. Opening up space in the ribcage, in the diaphragm, in the torso, lengthening, each time you take a deep breath. Don’t force it. Gentle. As deep as you can open with each breath is how deep you want to go. Not forcing the movement here.

Do an equal amount on each side of your body.

4.  Repeat Shoulder Slides

Let’s go back onto our backs. Knees bent. We’re going to do a couple more of those shoulder slides, or floor angels. This time we are going to add to it.

Reach arms up overhead. Shoulders down, backs of the hands down, elbows down. Draw the elbows down and stop at 90 degrees.

Then rotate the arms internally so the palms go face down.  With the palms face down, try to slide the palms up underneath you.

Come back out, rotate palms up, then reach overhead once more. Keep your ribcage down.  Nice long reach. Exhale.

And repeat. Elbows draw down. Arms rotate. Palms down. Slide your hands underneath you as much as you can. If need be, you can push your back up a little bit here too, so that if you’re able to, slide your hands up underneath your body.

Keep the bend in the elbows at 90 degrees. Exhale  as you reach up. Inhale as the draw down and underneath you. Let’s do several more.

The next level here would be try to lift the elbows up. That’s a pretty big rotation for the internal rotation for the shoulders. It’s okay if that elbow lift is not available for you.

Try not to let the shoulders come up towards the ears.

5. Cat & Cow

Let’s roll on to all fours in the table top or cat and cow position. Hands and knees. Hands underneath your shoulders. Knees underneath your hips.  Spread your fingertips out wide.

Let’s just do a few cat cows here. As you inhale, arch the back. Push the tailbone up. Let the belly button drop down. Let the chest drop down. Pull the back of the head up. Look up.

Exhale and drop the chin all the way to the chest. Press the floor away from you. Round the spine. Pull the belly in and up. Curl the tailbone under.

Repeat. Starting from the tailbone, ripple through the spine as your arch the back.  The mid back, the upper back, the shoulders, and then pull the back of the head up coming into your cow.

And reverse it. Exhale. Let the chin drop down. Try to move one vertebrae at a time. Round through the neck, through the upper back, through the middle of the back, all the way down to the lower back and the tailbone. and repeat this rippling, undulating, cat/caw, with your breath. one vertibrea at time. Arch and round.

Go through about 8 rounds here.

6. Puppy Dog Pose

Coming into puppy dog pose. Stay right here on hands and knees. Keep the hips right above the knees as you walk the hands out and away from you.

The chest comes down towards the ground.  If you’re really tight in the chest and the shoulders, having a block, roller, or pillow underneath your chest could feel really good for some extra support. You can also use a prop underneath your forehead.

Walk your hands out as far your you are comfortable. Keep pressing the hips up and back. Pressing the tailbone up and back.

Rest the forehead down on something. Whether it’s the ground or a block, towel, or pillow. Keep exhaling your chest towards the ground. A nice deep arch through the upper back. Each time you exhale, the chest comes just a little bit closer to the ground.

If you’re super flexible and you feel like your your nose is getting in the way, go ahead and let the chin come down towards the ground and look forward.

A couple more nice deep breaths in, long breath out.

Walk the hands slowly and gently back underneath you. Stop when they are about six inches further forward than they would be for your cat cow. So you’re hands are a little bit forward from being underneath the shoulder blades.

Curl the toes under, press the hips back, and press up into a downward facing dog.

7. Downward Facing Dog

Curl the toes under, press the hips back, and press up into a downward facing dog.

Feet are hip to shoulder width apart. Keep a nice bend in your knees to begin. As you breath, drop the chest towards the ground just like you were doing in your puppy dog pose. Lengthen the tailbone up and away from you. Let the chest fall down.

Now let’s pedal the feet, straightening one at a time. Remember we are working on the upper body today. So if your legs and the backs of the legs don’t go straight and you keep a bend in your knees, that’s okay. I’d rather you focus on this nice opening in the chest and the shoulders. Let the neck relax. Maybe you want to gently shake the head from side to side.

Let’s bring in a little external rotation to the shoulders here.  Draw the elbows down towards the ground and create more space in between the neck, the upper back, the shoulders. Pull the shoulders pull down and away from the ears.

Now bend the knees and walk the feet on tippy toes towards the hands. Sloooooooly roll up one vertebrae at a time to standing.

8. Doorway Stretch

Now let’s transition to your doorway. We’re going to do a tricep stretch.

Bring one elbow up to the doorway. The back of the hand goes to the back of the shoulder blade. Stand in a little baby lunge here.

Elbow goes into the doorway as you gently press the elbow up. As the elbow goes up, the hand slides down the back a little bit.

Gently lean in and breathe. Five deep, slow breaths and slowly release.

Now extend the arm and grab the side of that doorway.  Press that same side hip back and out so that you feel a stretch in the lat and all along that side, from hip all the way up into the armpit, all the way down through the tricep still, and all the way down to the wrist as well.

5 deep, slow breaths. Open. Soften. Slowly release and let’s do the other side.

9. Laying Down Bolster Stretch

Transitioning back down onto the mat once more, grab your foam roller, your blocks, your bolster, your rolled up towels, whatever it is that you have.

Place your prop between and behind your shoulder blades and lay down on top of it. I’m like to lay down with my foam roller  between my shoulder blades so that my back of my head is supported.

You can keep the knees bent or you can let them out straight. Whatever feels more comfortable for you and your back.  You can even have  the knees out wide in a butterfly position if that feels nice.

As you are laying over top of a bolster, a rolled up towel, the blocks, or a roller, think about the chest and the shoulders really being heavy and opening up so you should feel a nice stretch along the whole front of the chest and body.

The palms are face up, the elbows are down. This should feel relaxed. Like you can really let go and breathe softness and openness into the body here.  Try to keep the elbows nice and comfortably down on the ground and the shoulders relaxed.

Relax your face, your jaw, your neck. Deep, slow breaths. Let gravity do the work here.

Stay here as long as you like. You can stay here for up to 10 minutes. Feeling really comfortable and relaxing.

This is SUCH a great counter pose for paddlers!

When you are ready to come up, slowly roll on to one side and use your hands to push you back up nice and slow.

Or you can simply move your prop to the side and just lay back flat down on the ground for a few minutes after you finish.


I hope that this was the most enjoyable upper body mobility session for you.

For more free videos on Mobility, Stroke technique and Training for SUP athletes, download and join the Seychelle SUP app for free today! 

Thank you so much for being here! I appreciate you!

Stoked and Grateful,