Shoulder Exercises
Exercises for your shoulder

It may seem counter-intuitive. Your shoulder hurts, so your doctor or physical therapist recommends exercises. Yet, why go through more pain?

The truth is that exercising an injured shoulder at the appropriate time will reduce pain. Increasing the mobility and flexibility of your stiff joints and muscles can help them heal by reducing inflammation. In addition, when you avoid using your painful shoulder, the muscles that support the joint become disused and weak, which also causes pain.

If you have had surgery, doing your exercises faithfully — as recommended by your doctor or physical therapist — is key to your recovery and a return to the activities you love.

These exercises, recommended by The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, can help improve the function and comfort level of your shoulder. As always, be sure to check with your doctor or physical therapist first before beginning any exercise program.

Your physician will let you know when it is appropriate to undertake mobility and strengthening exercises for your shoulder — and may recommend specific exercises to address your shoulder pain.

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Shoulder-strengthening exercises

Exercises to strengthen the shoulder can help improve your shoulder function, reduce discomfort, and help avoid future injury:

  • Attach an elastic therapy band to a doorknob. (The colored bands are available through physical therapists, online and in many drugstores.) Gently pull the elastic band toward your body. Hold for a count of five. Switch to other arm. Repeat 5 times with each arm. Repeat twice daily.

    Rubberband excercise

  • Face a wall with your hands on the wall and your feet about a foot apart. Slowly push out from the wall. Repeat 5 times, holding for a count of five. Repeat twice daily.
  • Choose a chair with armrests. Sit upright with your feet firmly on the floor. Using your arms, slowly push yourself up from the seat. Repeat 5 times, holding for a count of 5. Repeat twice daily.

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Range-of-motion exercises

Range-of-motion exercises help you increase mobility and decrease pain when you have a shoulder problem:

  • Stand upright, holding onto a sturdy chair with your unaffected arm. Bend forward at the waist, keeping your knees bent. Let your affected arm hang limply and relax your shoulder blade. Rock your body to enable you to make small circles with the affected arm. Do 10 clockwise circles and 10 counterclockwise circles. Repeat twice daily.
  • Stand facing a wall, your feet firmly planted on the floor. With your fingers, "walk" your arm up the wall. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat 3 times, 3 times daily.

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Physical activity

Aerobic activities such as swimming and walking can help keep your joints supple.

Exercise can help:

  • Strengthen muscles around joints
  • Help control weight
  • Provide a sense of well being and healthiness

Your doctor and physical therapist will advise you which exercises can best benefit your shoulder problem and overall health.

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