Top 5 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain

Top 5 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain

The shoulder joint is the most complex joint in the human body. It is tasked with giving you both the mobility to move your arm 360 degrees, as well as the stability that allows all the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments that make up the shoulder to work together.

With all of parts that make up the shoulder, it’s common to experience pain or loss of mobility due to injury. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, try these exercises to help relieve your pain. Remember to always see a orthopedic doctor if you experience shoulder pain that is not relieved by several days of rest, ice, massage, and elevation.

1. Arm-across-Chest Stretch – Hold your right hand out in front of you, keeping it near your waist. Reach your left hand behind your elbow, pulling your right arm to the left and across your chest. If you feel pain in your shoulder, lower your arm until the pain subsides. The goal is to be able to pull your right arm across your chest without feeling any pain. Hold for 30-60 seconds then relax and repeat with your left arm. Repeat 3-5 times.

2. Neck Release – Sit up straight then slowly bring your chin toward your chest until you feel the stretch in the back of your neck. Try leaning your head to the left to stretch your right shoulder or leaning your head to the right to stretch your left shoulder. Hold the stretches up to one minute in each direction, breathing deeply as you concentrate on relaxing. Repeat 3-5 times.

To progress the stretch, elevate your arm as you pull it across your chest until it is the height of your shoulder.

3. Chest Expansion – Put an exercise band, rope, strap, or even a tie behind your back and grasp it with both hands. While holding the strap, draw your shoulder blades toward each other and gently lift your chin toward the ceiling. Breathe deeply for 10 to 15 seconds and release. Repeat 3-5 times.

To progress the stretch, move your hands closer together on the strap.

4. Seated Twist – Sit straight up in a chair with your knees together. Twist your torso to the right, placing your left hand on the outside of your right thigh. Relax your shoulders as you look towards your right, gentling pushing on your right thigh. Breathe deeply for 10 to 15 seconds and release. Repeat with your left side. Repeat both sides 3-5 times.

5. The 90, 90 Shoulder Stretch – Stand in a doorway, holding your arms up so your elbow is at a 90 degree angle and your arm forms a 90 degree angle to your body at the shoulder. Place each hand on one of the sides of the door frame, placing one foot forward as you stand up straight aligning your neck with your spine. Lean forward as you brace yourself against the door frame. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds. Repeat 2-3 times.

If you are suffering from knee pain, try 5 stretches to relieve knee pain in short period of time.

And if you’re looking for more shoulder stretches beyond the core stretches listed above, try these additional stretches below.

1. Eagle arms spinal rolls

This exercise stretches your shoulder muscles. If the arm position is uncomfortable, do this exercise by holding opposite shoulders.

  • While seated, extend your arms out to the sides.
  • Cross your elbows in front of your body with your right arm on top.
  • Bend your elbows, placing the backs of your forearms and hands together.
  • Reach your right hand around to bring your palms together.
  • Hold this position for 15 seconds.
  • On an exhale, roll your spine as your draw your elbows in toward your chest.
  • On an inhale, open your chest and lift your arms.
  • Continue this movement for 1 minute.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.

2. Shoulder circles


This exercise is good for warming up your shoulder joints and increasing flexibility.
  • Stand with your left hand on the back of a chair.
  • Allow your right hand to hang down.
  • Circle your right hand 5 times in each direction.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Do this 2–3 times per day.

3. Downward Dog Pose

This inversion pose strengthens and stretches the muscles in your shoulders and back.

  • Start on your hands and knees. Press into your hands to lift your hips up toward the ceiling.
  • Maintain a slight bend in your knees as you press your weight evenly into your hands and feet.
  • Keeping your spine straight, bring your head toward your feet so that your shoulders are flexed overhead.
  • Hold this pose for up to 1 minute.

4. Child’s Pose

This restorative pose helps relieve tension in your back, shoulders, and neck. Place a cushion under your forehead, chest, or legs for support.

  • From Downward Dog Pose, bring your big toes together and your knees slightly wider than your hips.
  • Sink your hips back onto your heels and extend your arms in front of you.
  • Allow your chest to fall heavy toward the floor, relaxing your spine and shoulders.
  • Stay in this pose for up to 5 minutes.

5. Thread the needle

This pose relieves tightness in your chest, shoulders, and upper back. Place a cushion or block under your head or shoulder for support.

  • Start on your hands and knees.
  • Lift your right hand up toward the ceiling with your palm facing away from your body.
  • Lower your arm to bring it under your chest and over to the left side of your body with your palm facing up.
  • Activate your right shoulder and arm to avoid collapsing into this area.
  • Keep your left hand on the floor for support, lift it toward the ceiling, or bring it around to the inside of your right thigh.
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds.
  • Relax in Child’s Pose before repeating this stretch on the left side.

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