12 Exercises and Stretches for Shoulder Pain 

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12 Exercises and Stretches for Shoulder Pain 

Loosen up this year by trying these stretches regularly.

If you’re just looking to stretch out your tight shoulders, try the stretches for shoulder pain below from Walker, Giordano, Rachel Prairie (corporate personal trainer and programming specialist at Anytime Fitness), and Jacque Crockford, M.S., C.S.C.S. (exercise physiology content manager at American Council on Exercise). They target the shoulders and the surrounding muscles, like those in the neck, chest, and back, which all can contribute to shoulder tension. Pick a few and add them to your recovery routine a few times a week or when you feel like you need them.

Modeling the moves is Caitlyn Seitz, a New York-based group fitness instructor and singer/songwriter.

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Katie Thompson

1

Upper Trapezius Stretch

  • Start standing or sitting tall, and place one hand on your lower back, the other hand on the opposite side of your head.
  • Pull your head toward your shoulder, looking straight ahead, until you feel a stretch in your neck.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.

Stretches the upper trapezius (neck).

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Katie Thompson

2

Quadruped Thoracic Rotation Stretch

  • Start on all fours, with your hands stacked under your shoulders and your knees stacked under your hips. Engage your core and maintain a flat back.
  • Place your left hand on the back of your head, so that your elbow points out to the left side. Rest the hand lightly—don’t put pressure on your head or neck. This is starting position.
  • Slowly rotate your head and shoulder toward your right hand on the floor.
  • Then, reverse the motion and rotate to the left and up so your elbow points toward the ceiling. Hold for a few seconds.
  • Return to starting position. Continue this movement for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Stretches the thoracic spine (the part of the spine that runs from the base of the neck to the abdomen).

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Katie Thompson

3

Child’s Pose

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees wider than hip-width apart and your feet together behind you.
  • Sit back on your heels (as best as you can) and fold forward, resting your belly on your thighs. Extend your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on the floor. You’ll feel this stretch in your shoulders and back, in addition to your hips and glutes.
  • Gently press your chest and shoulders toward the ground to deepen the stretch.
  • Hold for at least 30 seconds.

Stretches the trapezius (neck), latissimus dorsi (back), and muscles of the shoulder including the infraspinatus, teres major, and teres minor.

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Katie Thompson

4

Handcuff Drill

  • Lie face down.
  • Place both hands palms down on the back of your head. Your elbows should be pointed out to the sides. This is starting position.
  • Extend your arms in the shape of the letter “Y.”
  • Reach your arms as wide as you can and circle them down to the sides of your body with palms down. As soon as you can no longer keep your palms down, flip your hands over to palms up and bring your hands to the center of your lower back.
  • Circle your arms back in the reverse direction to return to starting position position.
  • Do 10 reps.

Stretches the muscles of the scapula, including rhomboids, serratus anterior, and trapezius.

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Katie Thompson

5

Thread the Needle

  • Start on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and hips over your knees.
  • Reach your right arm underneath and across your body with your palm facing up.
  • Bend your left elbow as you gently lean into your right side; you should feel a stretch in the back of your right shoulder.
  • Hold for a few seconds then return to the starting position and repeat.

Stretches the shoulder girdle muscles, including the trapezius, levator scapulae, and rhomboids, and the pectoralis minor (chest).

 

Read on: 12 Exercises and Stretches for Shoulder Pain

The health and medical information on our website is not intended to take the place of advice or treatment from health care professionals. It is also not intended to substitute for the users’ relationships with their own health care/pharmaceutical providers.

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