Physical Therapy Exercises for Shoulder Pain

June 6, 2022

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The shoulders endure a lot of weight and perform a wide range of movements every day, so it is not a surprise that several people experience shoulder pain — even those who don't engage in sports. Shoulder injuries can worsen if left ignored and untreated, so it is important to seek treatment early.

While over-the-counter medications may be a tempting treatment for the pain, stretching is an even more effective way to reduce shoulder pain. Physical therapy can prevent the need for surgery, which is especially beneficial for older adults who may not have as high a success rate with surgery. Even in cases where surgery is inevitable, strengthening exercises are a great way to prepare and strengthen the body prior to and after surgery.

This brief guide explains various therapeutic exercises to relieve shoulder pain. Learn how physical rehabilitation can help you recover and improve your mobility.

Therapeutic Exercises for Shoulder Blade Pain

The following therapeutic exercises for shoulder blade pain can be performed at home without any equipment:

Across the Chest Exercise

The across-the-chest exercise helps increase flexibility and range of motion in your frozen shoulder joint and the muscles around it.

  1. To do this stretch, stand up straight and hold your right hand out in front of your body at about waist level.
  2. Reach your left hand behind your elbow while pulling your right arm across your chest.
  3. Lower your right arm until the pain lessens.
  4. Hold this position for 30-50 seconds and then release.
  5. Repeat this stretch 3 to 5 times.

Pendulum Exercise

The pendulum exercise uses the weight and momentum of your upper arm bone to stimulate movement at the shoulder joint while keeping inactivity of the injured muscles.

  1. Start by leaning over and supporting your non-injured arm with a table or chair.
  2. Allow the sore arm to dangle straight down and then draw circles in the air, gradually increasing the diameter and reversing direction periodically.
  3. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Doorway Stretch Exercise

The doorway stretch exercise stretches your chest and strengthens your shoulder muscles.

  1. Stand in any doorway with your elbows and arms forming a 90-degree angle.
  2. Step your right foot forward while pressing your palms into the sides of the door frame.
  3. Lean forward and engage your core. Hold this pose for up to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat this with your left foot forward.
  5. Do this 2-3 times on each side.

Downward Dog Exercise

Also known as a popular yoga pose, Downward Dog is great for stretching and strengthening the muscles in your shoulders as well as your back.

  1. Start on your hands and knees, then press into your hands to lift your hips.
  2. Keep your knees slightly bent when needed and distribute your weight among your palms and feet.
  3. While keeping your spine straight, bring your head toward your feet so your shoulders are flexed above the head.
  4. Hold up to 1 minute.

Neck Release Exercise

Several neck muscles are attached in the shoulder area, so keeping the neck gently loose and aligned can sometimes help with shoulder pain.

  1. Gently dip your head until your chin touches your chest and feel the stretch in the back of your neck.
  2. Slowly lift your head a little and tilt it to one side to allow the opposite shoulder to stretch.
  3. Repeat the tilt on the opposite side.

Chest Expansion Exercise

This stretch is great for encouraging flexibility as well as improving your shoulders’ range of motion.

  1. In a standing position, hold an exercise band, strap, or towel behind your back with both of your hands.
  2. Broaden across your chest, moving your shoulder blades toward each other.
  3. Lift your chin and look up.
  4. Hold up to 30 seconds.
  5. Repeat 3-5 times.

Seated Twist Exercise

The seated twist stretches your shoulders and neck. Keep your hips facing forward while doing this exercise. Allow the twist to begin in your lower back.

  1. Make sure your hips are facing forward throughout the stretch and allow the stretch to begin in your lower back.
  2. Your knees must be aligned with your ankles, and as you twist to one side, bring the opposite hand to rest on your thigh.
  3. Hold the stretch before gently turning to repeat it on the opposite side.

How Therapeutic Exercises Can Help With Shoulder Joint Injuries

We rely on our shoulders for many everyday activities, including reaching, lifting, holding, carrying, pressing, and pulling. With all these activities, it's unsurprising that we experience some degree of shoulder discomfort in our life.

If shoulder pain is left ignored, however, it can become a chronic problem that can affect everyday activities such as carrying groceries, getting dressed, or combing your hair.

Physical therapy may be included in your treatment plan if you are suffering from sudden and intense pains caused by an overuse injury or a traumatic injury.

It's a common misconception that therapy is required only after surgery. Just as those patients recovering from shoulder surgery can benefit from physical therapy, so can those with chronic shoulder pain caused by acute injuries or health conditions.

Studies show that therapeutic exercises can effectively treat shoulder conditions that cause pain, like rotator cuff injuries, shoulder arthritis, and painful impingement. Natural pain management modalities can even help delay or eliminate the need for shoulder surgery.

Benefits of Completing your Rehabilitation at The Right Spinal Clinic

Physical therapy is for those who want to regain their body's function or improve its optimum performance.

Your physical therapist guides you so that you'll recover safely and properly.

Here are some of the benefits of therapeutic sessions:

  • Pain management with reduced need for medications
  • Avoid surgery
  • Improved mobility and movement
  • Recovery from injury and/or trauma
  • Recovery from stroke and/or paralysis
  • Fall prevention
  • Improved balance
  • Age-related medical problems management
  • Maximize the physical performance of athletes by strengthening specific parts of their body for optimal muscle function

Contact Your Physical Therapist Today!

At The Right Spinal Clinic, we provide accurate diagnosis and effective rehabilitation for shoulder injuries.

Schedule an appointment with us at (813) 392-2164 or visit for more information.

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