5 Simple Exercises to Help Relieve Shoulder Pain
The shoulders contain the most mobile joints in the body, making them also the most complex and some of the most susceptible to injury. Whether your shoulder is injured or recovering from a surgical shoulder procedure, there are many exercises and stretches that can help ease the pain in your shoulders and quicken your recovery time.
1. Nix The Pushing, Increase The Pulling
Many exercisers fall into the trap of push, push, push — focusing only push-ups, bench presses, and so on — with no time spent doing any pulling motions. Pulling and rowing strengthen the back, where most pushing focuses on the chest. The result: an overly strong chest and weaker back, leading to an uneven, slumped shoulder posture that will only increase shoulder pain over time. If you neglect pulling exercises, incorporating them into your exercise routine will help you form a stronger back, alleviating shoulder pain caused by a crooked posture.
2. Utilize Circular Motions
There are many simple shoulder pain exercises that use rotation to strengthen an injured shoulder. In one such exercise, known as the “pendulum,” you place your good arm on a stationary object (such as a chair or table) for balance and simply swing your pained shoulder back and forth in a full circular motion directly in front of you, as if you were drawing a circle on the ground with a very long piece of chalk. Start with 5 circles at a time, and repeat up to 3 times a day.
Another relatively simple (and fun) exercise involves repetitive circular motions with a ball to strengthen the joint. Find a simple rubber ball or kickball and a blank wall to work out against. First, lean into the ball, holding it on the wall with the palm of the injured limb. Then make small circular motions for several minutes. It feels as if the ball will drop, and it may initially, but keep at it to strengthen your shoulder.
3. Find A Doorway
Believe it or not, a doorway can double as a great tool for shoulder pain exercises. All you have to do is face the doorway with your arm bent at a 90 degree angle and turned to where the outside of your wrist is touching the frame. Then push against the frame for 5 seconds, with up to 10 reps. Similarly, you can also push against the frame with the inside of your wrist touching the frame.
Image: Arthritis Research UK
4. Stretch The Chest
Since the chest and shoulder muscles are connected, opening up the chest simultaneously stretches tense shoulders. Find an exercise band and try opening up your chest and shoulders by expanding them: hold the band behind you with both hands, and simultaneously lift your chin up while pulling your shoulders back. Take deep breaths for up to 15 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. For a deeper stretch, move your hands closer together on the band.
5. Pull The Arm Up The Back
Another option: use the exercise band like a pulley and hold it diagonally behind your back with one arm going over your shoulder and the other reaching up from under. With the arm above the shoulder, gently pull the band forward and upwards, slowly bringing the other arm farther up behind your back. This stretches the backs of the shoulders and relieves any tension built over time. Hold for up to 10 seconds, and repeat up to 5 times. Make sure to do both shoulders if needed.
These are only a few of the many ways you can utilize exercise, motion and stretching to relieve the pain in your shoulders. If your initial shoulder pain isn’t relieved within two weeks or becomes worse, it’s recommended to see an orthopedic doctor in order to avoid any further injury.