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7 Easy Exercises + 3 Bonus Tips for Lasting Shoulder Pain Relief

By Sarah Turner | November 30, 2017 Shoulder Pain
7 Easy Exercises + 3 Bonus Tips for Lasting Shoulder Pain Relief

Crush shoulder pain with these 10 ideas.

As a society, we are more sedentary than ever. We increasingly work at computers and drive cars instead of walking everywhere and working with our whole bodies, making it important to incorporate strengthening routines into exercises. This is especially true in the case of the shoulder, which is one of the body’s most complex, important and vulnerable joints.

Shoulder injuries affect millions of Americans each year and can be caused by simple tasks such as gardening, hanging curtains and painting. Strengthening the muscles surrounding your shoulder is one of the best ways to protect against injuries.

There are several clinical causes of shoulder pain—torn rotator cuff, dislocated shoulder, frozen shoulder, rheumatoid arthritis and plenty of other injuries. But for many, chronic shoulder pain is caused by a combination of the natural shape of the joint and a lack of strength. The shoulder is a ball and socket joint where the ball part of the joint is much bigger than the socket—like a golf ball on a tee—meaning your shoulder needs the muscles, tendons and ligaments that surround it to be strong enough to protect it. One of the best ways to get your shoulder back in working order is with exercises to strengthen and protect it, while also offering pain relief.

7 Easy Exercises for Shoulder Pain Relief

If you have the OK from your doctor to work on strengthening your shoulders, here are seven great ways to building strength and reducing chronic pain. These exercises only require a resistance band so you can do them just about anywhere.

Try using the TheraBand® CLX™, an innovative resistance band that allows for expanded versatility in your exercises. The connected loops allow varying grips and anchoring options, so you’ll need less equipment and be able to do more exercises than with a regular flat band.

“Theraband CLX is easy to use. You can take it on the road with you on trips, to the office and use it at home. It's very accessible, and I think it's even more accessible than other resistance bands because it just folds up and rolls up and it doesn't take up a lot of space,” says Dr. Kevin Wilk, DPT, PT, FAPTA.

Do each exercise in three sets of 10 repetitions.

1. Chest Press

Wrap your band around your back. Keeping your hands at chest level, push your arms straight out in front of you. Return to your starting position and repeat.


2. Side Plank with an External Rotation

While doing a side plank, grab your band in both hands. Be sure your elbow on the ground is at a 90-degree angle. Your other elbow will stay rested against your torso. Rotate your free arm until there is resistance from the band. Repeat this motion on both sides.


3. Resisted Push

In a very slight lunge, place your back foot in the middle of your band and loop the ends around your hands. Raise your arms forward and up in a pushing motion.


4. Shoulder External Rotation at Side

Hold your band in both hands directly in front of your chest so that the band is taut and your elbows are straight. Stretch outward until your arms are extended, or until they are as far as they can comfortably go. Return to the starting position and repeat.


5. Shoulder Horizontal Abduction

Hold your band in both hands directly in front of your chest so that the band is taut and your elbows are straight. Stretch outward until your arms are extended, or until they are as far as they can comfortably go. Return to the starting position and repeat.


6. Dynamic Hug

Wrap your band around your back and hold your band with both hands. Start with your elbows at about 45 degrees. Extend them in front of you and across your body but keep your elbows slightly bent as if you were hugging someone. Return to the beginning position in the reverse motion and repeat.


7. Bilateral Arm Raises

Standing with the band under one foot and the other foot slightly behind you, grab the band with both hands. Raise your arms from your side to shoulder height while keeping your arms about 30 degrees from your body. Be sure not to shrug your shoulders. Return to the starting position and repeat.


3 Bonus Pain Relief Tips

Strengthening exercises won’t relieve shoulder pain overnight; they’re a long-term solution. In the meantime, here are some extra ideas for fast-acting shoulder pain relief.

1. Shoulder-Specific Hot/Cold Packs

Try shoulder-specific hot and cold packs to relieve shoulder pain faster. The TheraPearl Shoulder Wrap is designed specifically for the shoulder—you get hot or cold relief right where you need it by either putting it in the freezer or heating it up in the microwave—and it has straps to assure a secure fit.

How do you know when to use ice and when to use heat on your shoulder? Here are the general differences:

  • Cold therapy is for injuries that have occurred in the last 24 hours. Use ice when the shoulder is inflamed, bruised or swollen. Cold therapy slows circulation and reduces pain, swelling and inflammation.
  • Heat therapy is for chronic aches, muscle pains and sore muscles. Heat opens blood vessels, decreases muscle spasms, and increases range of motion to reduce joint and muscle pain.

Heat can make inflammation worse if used in the wrong circumstance, so be sure you are using your cold and hot packs correctly. And always make sure you ask your healthcare professional for recommendations on whether you should ice or heat any injury or chronic pain.

2. A Topical Analgesic

Topical analgesics are applied directly over painful muscles for fast-acting pain relief. Biofreeze® Pain Reliever is an effective topical analgesic that works when the menthol activates the temperature-sensitive receptors in the skin. This interrupts the sensation of pain by overwhelming the receptors and and blocking transmission of pain messaging to the brain.

Topical analgesics are great for on-the-go pain relief and can be used virtually anywhere. Biofreeze comes as a roll-on, tube, spray and gel, so it’s easy to carry fast shoulder pain relief with you wherever you go. You can keep this topical analgesic in your car, desk or gym bag for relief on demand.

3. Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology tape is a stretchy, cotton fiber tape that’s latex free. It provides pain relief and supports vulnerable muscles and joints. Kinesiology tape doesn’t restrict your range of motion so you can wear it without interrupting your day. This tape is another tool you can add to your toolbox for fighting off persistent shoulder pain.


Tape, topical analgesics and hot/cold packs are excellent for shoulder pain relief when you need a quick fix. But for lasting relief, you’ll want to use shoulder strengthening exercises. As with all chronic pain, long-term approaches will set you up for better results, so address your discomfort early and enjoy a pain-free life.

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