Exercises for Chronic Shoulder Pain

Start With Range of Motion

I have found, and the evidence shows, that the ‘right’ type of exercise is imperative for safe and optimal results. If a person is training to be a marathon runner, they will train differently than someone training to be a power lifter. The same thing is true if you are exercising to help your back issues. Most people have been misinformed on what to do in this regard.

Exercising a misaligned structure (like your spine/back) with strengthening exercises only helps to stabilize your mispositioned structure. This is why body builders love chiropractic care since it helps them balance their body which allows for for improved symmetry as they develop more muscle. 

When a patient is in pain and wanting to do exercises to help their neck/back, my first goal, which is in the Chiropractic Oath is to “first, do no harm.” Therefore, any exercise must not irritate your condition. That is why I recommend starting with range of motion exercises before moving into other types of exercise, including strength building. 

To the right are the 3 stages of exercise that I recommend patients go through, and further down this page I will show you specific examples.

Stage 1: Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion exercises have multiple benefits that include pumping out waste product while pumping in nutrition for faster healing, pain relief, better adjustment holding, and improve nerve flow. Starting the day with range of motion exercises goes a long way in long term pain relief – plus, they are easy to do!

Stage 2: Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises are for once you are feeling better. This will help unload the joints by increasing degrees of soft tissue motion before the joint structure are put under any stress. These should be done as you feel able to without irritating your condition. 

Stage 3: Strengthening Exercises

This is where most people want to start, but truthfully if you do these as the third stage you will maximize your results. The goal of strengthening exercises is to create stability in weaker areas without causing irritation to those areas. These come once you are feeling confident with your range of motion and flexibility exercises.

Forward Head Tilt

Shoulder pain and stiffness affects many people today. Apart from getting worked on in the office, here are some shoulder exercises and stretches you can do at home to help in between your treatments.

Across The Chest Stretch

Start by crossing your right arm in front of your chest, while keeping your arm fairly straight. Place it in the crease of your left elbow, and support your arm. Stretch as far as feels comfortable, and hold for up to 1 minute. Repeat this for the opposite arm. 

Chest Expansion

While standing, bring your elbows close to your shoulder height while bringing your hands close to your chest. Move your arms backward while squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then bring your arms forward to rest. Repeat 5-10 times. 

Shoulder Spirals

While standing, raise your elbows to shoulder height and bring your hands in to your chest. Pretend you are drawing circles/spirals with your elbows. Start out with small circular motions, and gradually get larger. Do this for 10-20 seconds, then stop and do the same thing in the opposite direction. 

Wall Spider

Stand facing a wall. Your shoulder should be approximately 2 feet from the wall. Raise your arm to shoulder level, and slowly walk your hand up the wall as high as you can. Hold there for a few seconds, then slowly walk your hand back down. Repeat 3-5 times. As you get better at this, you should be able to hold your arm stretch up the wall for longer periods of time. 

Shoulder Exercises

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