5 Exercises for Shoulder Pain

Are you suffering from physical discomfort in your shoulder? This can be coming from the joint itself or being caused by the muscles, tendons and ligaments that support the joint. Generally, we are inclined to decrease the use of a joint when we start to feel these pains. With the shoulder, this can often create more soft tissue problems and less able to use the joint. This blog is going to explore common causes of shoulder pain and restriction, plus look at simple exercises we can do to rehabilitate the shoulder.

The Shoulder

Your shoulder is made up of 3 bones. Your clavicle (collar bone), which is the joint attachment of the shoulder to the rest of the body. Your scapula (shoulder blade) is a floating bone, held to the body by muscles, fascia and ligaments. And your humerus (upper arm bone) which has a ball joint surface with the clavicle and scapula making the socket. This ball and socket joint is the reason shoulders have such a large range of motion through multiple anatomical planes. A combination of muscles and ligaments call the rotator cuff to hold the ball in the socket and stabilise the joint.

Cause of Common Injuries

We often see shoulder injuries as a result of gym work. Injuries happen when we load the shoulder too heavy to fast without considering its correct postural position. It is important to start any new exercise plan with corrective exercises before moving on to loading the joint. This theory should also be applied to any joint in the body, whether that be your spine, knees, ankles, elbows or shoulders. Always see your chiropractor have an assessment before being new exercises, they will help you with corrective rehab exercises and point out areas of weakness and potential injury.

Many patients also have weakness in their shoulder muscles due to repetitive habits. The most common being slouching for long hours at the computer. This position puts great strain on the posterior shoulder stabilisers and often leads to decreased strength in these muscles. The result is rounding of the shoulders and a forward carriage of the head.

Activating the Shoulder Muscles
Exercise 1 – Wall angles

Stand with your back against a wall and bend your knees a little.
Your shoulders and head should be touching the wall. Start with your upper arms at your side with your elbows bent.
Your wrists and forearms should be touching the wall. Bring your arms up as high as you can get them, without any of your body parts coming away from the wall. When you reach as far as you can, slide the arms back down to the start position.

Exercise 2 – Wall slides

Stand up straight facing a wall. Place your forearms vertically on the wall parallel to one another and around shoulder-width apart. Your palms should face one another. Ensure your back and head are in a neutral position. Gently press your elbows into the wall so that you feel your shoulder blades flatten against your rib cage. Keeping this control, slide your forearms up and down the wall. The aim of this exercise is to keep contact with your shoulder blades against your back. Do not allow your shoulders to hunch upwards with the movement. Progress this exercise by adding theraband around your forearms, making sure you always have your forearms parallel to each other.

Exercise 3 – Scapula protraction

Kneel down with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Your head should be in a neutral position looking down at the floor by your hands. Keeping your elbows straight, push the heels of your hands into the floor. You should feel your shoulder blades flatten against the side of your rib cage.
Hold this position.


Exercise 4 – Shoulder proprioception

Stand up straight facing a wall. Take your arm to shoulder height with the ball in your hand, and press it against the wall. Press lightly into the ball with the heel of your hand. Your elbow should be straight, but not locked. Move the ball up and down, side to side and in small circles. Keep your shoulder blades back and down throughout.


Exercise 4 – Book opening

Lie on your side with your arms outstretched on the floor in front of you. Your lower leg should be straight and in line with the rest of your body. Your upper leg should be bent in front of you with both the hip and knee at 90 degrees. You may wish to rest your upper leg on pillows or a foam roller. Take a deep breath in. As you breathe out, lift your top arm up from the floor towards the ceiling. Follow the movement with your head. Continue to move this arm up and over to the floor on the other side. Allow your upper body and head to follow the movement of this arm. Take a deep breath at this endpoint. As you breathe out, lift this arm back up from the floor, sweeping towards the ceiling and return it to lie on top of your other arm. Again, follow this movement with your gaze, head, and upper body. Take a deep breath in, and then repeat.

February 22, 2021
Georgina Smith