Great Exercises for Patients with Shoulder Pain

If you suffer from shoulder pain, here are some exercises you can do at home that really work to improve flexibility and strength. Just remember to ALWAYS stay within reasonable pain boundaries and work BOTH sides of your body, NOT just the injured shoulder!

For flexibility, start with the “Codman” Pendulum exercise. Stand or sit and lean forward so that your arm can swing like the pendulum of a clock while holding a light weight (2-5 lbs, or .9-2.26 kg initially). Move the weight in a clockwise, counter-clockwise, left-to-right, and/or forward-backward ALLOWING the shoulder to RELAX. DO NOT shrug your shoulder upward—let the shoulder go. This is usually comfortable and therefore can be done MANY times a day!

Another great beginning exercise is the Finger Wall-Walk. Stand in front of a wall and slowly walk your fingers up a wall staying within a comfortable range. Go slow and repeat several times. As you improve, rotate your trunk or stand with your body 45º, 60º, and later, 90º to the wall.

To perform the Crossover Arm Stretch, relax your shoulders and gently pull your arm across your chest using the uninvolved arm/hand to assist in the movement. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat with the other arm.

The Passive Internal Rotation (stick behind the back) and External Rotation (stick in front) requires a broomstick held parallel to the floor. Grip the stick with both hands held shoulder width apart and allow one arm to move the relaxed arm inward and outward. Do this as two separate exercises. Hold the end-range for up to 30 seconds each, repeat one to three times, as tolerated.

For Strengthening, the use of Thera-Tube or Band works well when anchored into the hinged side of a door. Pretend you are standing on a clock (12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions) and SLOWLY pull and release the tubing three times in each of the four “clock positions,” ALWAYS staying in the pain-free range.

Your “ultimate guide” for advancing in reps, sets, and type of exercise is the comfort factor – AVOID sharp, lancinating painful movements/exercises or those that leave you sore for more than 24-48 hours afterwards. Track your recovery time after exercising to determine safety.

Author
Dr. James Sheehan Dr. James Sheehan is an expert in the treatment of neck and back pain.

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