Exercises for Shoulder Pain Relief

Senior male tennis player shoulder pain sitting at court

As one of the most mobile but more unstable areas in the human body, the shoulder is prone to a variety of problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shoulder issues accounted for almost 1.5 million emergency room visits in the United States in 2006. Shoulder complaints, however, often respond well to self-care. After consulting a physician, engage in exercise therapy to reduce stiffness, restore range of motion and help relieve shoulder pain.

Shoulder "Y" Formation Exercise

To support your upper body strength while building stability and mobility in your shoulders, the American Council on Exercise recommends the shoulder "Y" formation exercise. The exercise can help alleviate existing pain and prevent future soreness and stiffness. Lie on your back with your arms at your side. Bend your knees and plant your feet firmly on the floor. Tighten your abdominal muscles and slowly extend your arms over your head so that your body forms the letter "Y." Keep your elbows straight and do not arch your back. Continue to extend your arms until your thumbs touch the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, return to the start position and perform three more repetitions.

Shoulder Circles

People often instinctively stumble on shoulder circles when suffering from stiff, aching shoulders. The exercise mobilizes the shoulder muscles, aiding in the release of tension in your shoulders and upper back. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight and contract your abdominal muscles. Exhale and roll your shoulders forward up to your ears. Now roll your shoulders backward until you have completed a full circle. Repeat the movements in the opposite direction.

Frozen Shoulder Stretch

Inflammation can cause shoulder pain and loss of motion that eventually reduces mobility in your arm. Known as frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, the condition can prevent you from performing normal activities such as reaching behind your back or over your head. Treatment for adhesive capsulitis involves stretching exercises such as the towel stretch. The towel stretch mimics drying your back with a towel. To start, hold a towel in your right hand. Swing your right arm over your head so that the towel hangs behind your back. Firmly grab the bottom of the towel with your left hand. While holding the towel with your left hand, allow your left arm and shoulder to relax. Extend your right arm toward the ceiling and pull your left arm up toward the back of your head. Lower your right arm so that your left arm drops down again. Repeat the movements with the opposite arm.

Shoulder Extensor, Adductor and Retractor Stretch

Stretching exercises for the shoulders reduce the frequency of tightness in your muscles and improves shoulder flexibility and strength. The shoulder extensor, adductor and retractor stretch targets a wide range of muscles around the shoulder area. To begin, stand inside a doorway and place your feet shoulder-width apart. Move your left arm across your chest toward your right shoulder. While pointing your thumb down, place your left hand on the right doorjamb at shoulder level. Turn your torso to the left until you feel the stretch in your left shoulder. Repeat on the opposite arm.