Exercises for Shoulder Inflammation

Shoulder inflammation can cause pain.

Shoulder injuries are very common. In fact, according to a study published by "Best Practice & Research: Clinical Rheumatology," up to a quarter of adults have shoulder pain at any given time. If your shoulder is warm to the touch, stiff, red, swollen or painful, it might be inflamed. Exercises help reduce stiffness and pain with an inflamed shoulder.

Note that shoulder inflammation can be caused by infection. See a doctor for a proper diagnosis if you have shoulder inflammation.

Stretches should be painfree.

Behind-the-Head Stretch

Stretches help your shoulder joint stay loose without causing more inflammation.

Lie on your back on a firm surface. Interlock your fingers behind your head.

Start with your elbows resting next to your ears. Slowly lower your elbows down toward the ground until you feel a stretch in your shoulders. Do not stretch to the point of pain.

Relax into the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds and repeat three times.

Stand up straight when you stretch your arms behind your back.

Behind-the-Back Stretch

Stretch the front of your shoulders by putting your hands behind your back.

Clasp your hands behind your back. Stand up straight and gently squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Hold this position for 10 to 20 seconds, then relax. To increase the intensity of the stretch, gently lift your hands out and away from your back -- without bending over. Repeat three times.

Perform shoulder stretches several times throughout your day.

Cross-Body Stretch

The cross-body stretch should be felt in the back of your shoulder.

Stand or sit up straight. Reach across your body at shoulder-height with your inflamed arm.

Grasp your elbow with the opposite hand and gently pull the inflamed arm in closer to your body until you feel a comfortable stretch in the back of your shoulder.

Hold for 10 to 20 seconds, relax and repeat three times.

Use water bottles in place of dumbbells if needed.

Arm Swings

Arm swings -- also called pendulums -- allow your shoulder to move without gravity weighing it down. To increase the amount of stretch during these movements, hold a 1- or 2-pound dumbbell in your hand.

Bend over and support yourself with your non-exercising arm on a firm surface. Dangle your injured arm straight down toward the ground.

Make large clockwise circles with your arm, shifting your body side to side to add momentum. Repeat 10 times.

Perform counterclockwise, forward and backward, and side-to-side swings in sets of 10 repetitions.

Perform shoulder isometrics anyplace that has a wall.


Isometric exercises strengthen muscles without moving your painful joints. Use a pillow or folded towel to pad your arm during these exercises.

Face the wall with your elbow bent to 90 degrees. Make a loose fist and place the pillow between your hand and the wall.

Gently press forward against the pillow, tensing the muscles in the front of your shoulder. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.

Stand with the back of your forearm against the pillow. Press against the pillow as if you are rotating your arm away from you. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, relax and repeat 10 times.

Stand with your back to the wall and your elbow against the pillow. Press backward into the wall for 2 to 3 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times.

Move the pillow to an open doorframe and bend your elbow to 90 degrees. Facing the doorframe, place the pillow at waist height and hold it in place with the inside of your forearm.

Press against the pillow as if you are trying to rotate your forearm in toward your body. Hold for 2 to 3 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times.