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Every task that involves the upper body uses the shoulders. Whether you drive, eat or type on the keyboard, you use your shoulders. They’re often overworked and they become sore and painful over time. It’s essential to take good care of your shoulders. One of the ways to reduce pain is through shoulder exercises.
Stretches can help relieve pain, tightness and soreness around the shoulder area. Here are some of the less strenuous shoulder pain exercises to do at home. Before you try them, consult your doctor if you have an injury or shoulder condition.
These easy stretches provide shoulder pain relief and improve your posture. They also ease the tightness around the target area. You can do this either standing or sitting down.
- Stand or sit with your arms on the side with your back straight.
- Slowly lift your shoulders toward your ears without moving your head.
- Hold the pose for 10 seconds.
- Gently release as you lower your shoulders back down.
- Repeat this five times.
Cross-body Shoulder Stretch
Doing this exercise increases shoulder mobility, so you can rotate and angle them at a broader range. If you lift a lot in your work or play baseball where you rely on your shoulders, this gentle stretch will help strengthen the shoulder area.
- Stand properly and take your right arm across your chest.
- Use your left arm to grab the right outer forearm and push it toward you.
- Make sure the right arm is at shoulder height.
- Feel the stretch on your right shoulder and hold the pose for 30 seconds.
- Do the same with the left arm.
Arm circles are the best shoulder pain exercises if your muscles feel tight and there’s slight pain when you rotate them. Doing arm circles together with other shoulder pain exercises can help tone the arm muscles and shoulders and reduce the buildup of fat around this part. The gentle movements or circling your arms can make your heart pump so they’re very effective as warm-ups.
- Stand and extend your arms widely to the side.
- Make sure you’re parallel to the floor.
- Gently rotate your arms clockwise.
- Count your repetitions.
- Create large or small circles with your arms, depending on your pain level.
- Reverse the rotation to anticlockwise and do the exact number of repetitions.
This easy exercise benefits people with shoulder pain caused by arthritis as it relaxes the back muscles. Doing this several times can increase the joint’s passive range of motion on the problematic side of the shoulder. If you work with a physical therapist due to an injury, they may recommend this exercise for speedy recovery.
- Find a chair.
- If the pain is on your left shoulder, rest your right hand on the backrest of the chair. Otherwise, do the opposite.
- Let the painful arm hang down and slowly swing it forward and backward.
- Do this for five reps and two to three times a day.
Door lean corrects your posture and prevents the shoulders from rounding the back. It’s another perfect exercise for those with chronic pain, like arthritis. If you have work that involves sitting for hours, like a computer or a driving job, doing door lean can alleviate the tightness on the front shoulders. Don’t do this exercise if you have swollen or torn tendons.
- Stand in the doorway.
- Extend both arms on the wall slightly, a bit over your head.
- Slowly lean forward while feeling the stretch on your shoulders.
- Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Do this three times.
Since the neck and the shoulder muscles are connected, stretching the neck will benefit the secondary shoulder muscles. This relieving shoulder pain exercise targets a large muscle that links the base of your head, shoulders and upper back. Stretching it and the joints surrounding it can ease aches.
- Stand straight.
- Keep your feet hip-width apart.
- Relax your shoulders, neck and arms.
- Then, put your right hand on the left side of your head.
- Slowly tilt your head toward the right side of the shoulder.
- Hold for 10 to 15 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Another way to gently stretch the back of the shoulders is through the child’s pose. It’s a yoga resting position to alleviate the tension in the lower back, hamstring and shoulders. It also increases blood circulation to the brain. The child’s pose has several variations, so feel free to do what feels best for your body.
- Start by sitting on your knees.
- Spread your knees as wide as the mat. The big toes should remain touching each other.
- Slowly lean your body forward so the belly is between your thighs.
- Make sure your buttocks are still touching your heels.
- Rest your forehead on the ground.
- Stretch your arms in the front with palms facing the mat.
- For a variation of this pose, you can bring your arms beside your thighs with palms facing the sky.
- Stay in this pose while breathing in and breathing out deeply.
Cow Face Pose
This yoga pose is one of the shoulder pain exercises for making the rotator cuff muscles more flexible. The rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that allow you to rotate your arm up to 360 degrees. If you can’t bring your arm all the way back, it may be due to a rotator cuff injury. The cow face pose also rectifies the body posture of those with round shoulders.
- Sit on the floor or a mat.
- Cross your right leg over the left, stacking one knee on top of the other.
- Stretch your right arm to the side.
- Externally rotate it and bring it to your shoulders so your palm rests between the shoulder blades just below the lower neck.
- Extend your left arm, bend the elbow and reach the left hand toward the right hand.
- When the left hand touches the right, clasp your fingers.
- Hold the pose while breathing in and breathing out.
- Release and reverse the pose for the other side.
Add Shoulder Pain Exercise to Your Training
The shoulders are prone to injury because you use them often alongside your arms and hands. If you’re careless, you can get down with an injury from lifting something heavy. Fortunately, you can boost your shoulder strength through gentle stretches. Try these exercises if your shoulder muscles have been tight or painful because of overworking.
Start with the less strenuous shoulder pain exercises, like shoulder shrugs or pendulum, to not strain your muscles. All these exercises are generally safe, but consult your doctor before doing any physical activity if you have shoulder injuries.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.