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Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain

written by: Janelle Martel • edited by: Cheryl Gabbert • updated: 8/9/2011

Shoulder pain exercise can ease tension and strain in the shoulder caused by repetitive overhead motion. Setting aside just three minutes a day to practice shoulder pain exercises can decrease the chances of injuring your shoulder in the future.

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    Causes of Shoulder Pain

    According to the National Institutes of Health, 13 million people go to the doctor complaining of shoulder pain each year.

    The shoulder is so susceptible to injury because it is the most flexible joint in the body. Capable of a wider and more varied range of motion than any other joint, the shoulder is composed of three major joints and an intricate system of tendons, muscles, and ligaments.

    Overuse is the most common reason for injury to the delicate shoulder joints. In addition to strain, the aging process and traumas can also cause injury.

    You don’t have to be an athlete to injure the shoulder. Injuries can occur during every day activities like gardening, painting walls, or reaching overhead for heavy objects. Any activity that involves excessive, repetitive overhead motion can cause shoulder pain.

    If you experience shoulder pain on a regular basis, you should see a doctor to rule out serious injury. A doctor will likely prescribe anti-inflammatory pain relievers, rest from motions that hurt your shoulder, and shoulder pain exercises.

    If your work involves repetitive overhead motion, try to incorporate regular shoulder pain exercise into your daily routine. Just three minutes of exercise a day can prevent future injury.

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    Shoulder Pain Exercise You Can Do at Work

    Don’t think of shoulder pain exercise as something you have to go to the gym to do. Shoulder pain exercise refers to simple, low-impact exercises that stretch and strengthen the delicate shoulder joints and muscles.

    • The Rub-A-Dub. Stand straight and throw a towel over your non-injured shoulder. Grasp the towel behind your back with your injured shoulder hand. Grasp the part of the towel that is in front of your body with your other hand. Pull gently on the towel with your good arm, raising your injured arm as high as you can without causing pain. Hold for five seconds, then release slowly. Repeat five to ten times.
    • The Butterfly. This exercise requires light dumbbells or some other weights such as soup cans. Holding one weight in each hand, extend your arms outward with elbows straight and thumbs pointed down. Lift the arms only to waist level, then slowly lower back down to your sides. Repeat five to 15 times, working up to completing three full sets.
    • The Wall Crawler. Stand near a wall, extending your injured arm to touch the wall. Slowly walk your hand up the wall as you keep your shoulders level. When you can’t raise your hand any further, hold the position for five seconds. Lower the arm back down to starting position and repeat four or five times.