Exercises for Shoulder Pain


Shoulder pain can affect people of all ages. Repetitive motions, especially movements that a person doesn't regularly perform, can cause discomfort in the shoulder. Activities such as painting, lifting, or playing a sport can cause soreness in the tendon of the rotator cuff. The rotator cuff is the part of the shoulder that helps circular motion, made up of four muscles surrounding the arm bone. Rotator cuff injuries can be identified by pain in the front or outside of the shoulder and typically worsens when the arm is raised.

Range of Motion

  • One exercise that can help relieve shoulder pain involves exploring a shoulder's range of motion. The easiest way to perform this exercise is to stand facing a table or chair. Bend at the waste and let the arm and shoulder in question dangle toward the floor. Your other arm can hold onto the table or chair in front of you for balance. With the dangling arm, begin to draw small circles in the air. Repeat slowly and continue to move the arm in larger and larger circles. Repeat the exercise five to ten times daily. If you have major discomfort, stop the exercise and try again later.

Strengthening the Rotator Cuff

  • Another exercise to strengthen the shoulder can be performed with the help of a strength band or rubber tubing. Stand sideways next to a closed door, with the shoulder in question facing the door. Attach or tie the strength band to the door knob, and with your elbow locked at your hip at 90 degrees, pull the tube across your stomach. To start, do just one set of 10 repetitions. Over time, increase the number of sets and repetitions as your shoulder pain lessens. If you have pain, stop and try again later.

Strengthening Upper Extremities

  • After your shoulder pain begins to lessen, it is a good idea to begin a weekly free-weight or weight-machine workout routine to keep the shoulder strong and healthy. One exercise that can help is to lie on your side with the shoulder you are exercises facing upward. With a free weight on your hand -- start out with a very light weight, of course -- keep your elbow locked at 90 degrees on your side and rotate your arm so the weight is in the air. Bring the weight down across your stomach in the same motion as the rubber tube/door knob exercises above.

Other Options

  • An aerobic exercise program will also help to improve blood flow in the shoulder. Also, if the shoulder pain persists, it may be a tear in the rotator cuff tendon and may require surgery. Try icing the shoulder and pain relief medications such as Tylenol in addition to exercise.


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