Shoulder Pain can make everyday life strenuous and limit your independence. It can keep you from driving your car, buttoning your clothes, or even brushing your hair. People may develop these issues from rotator cuff injuries or tears, or osteoarthritis.
However it got there, if you have pain that won’t go away it might be time to see a physical therapist. Some flags that indicate that you should get your shoulder checked out might be that you can’t carry objects you normally could, that you are developing a physical difference in that joint (such as bruising, swelling or infection), that you are in pain when you are resting the shoulder, or that you cannot lift your arm.
Physical therapists can help you reduce pain and regain strength in a safe and effective way until you are fit to be lifting boxes and reaching for items up on high shelves again! Below we have five recommendations from our Physical Therapist, MacGyver Norris. Please note, EVERY person and situation is unique, so assigning a cookie cutter routine to all "shoulder patients" is not our approach. However, these are some of the most common exercises we assign to our patients and we hope you find them helpful!
To warm up for the corner pec stretch, find a corner or doorway that you can stretch at. Lift both hands up above your head, and press into the corner until you feel a stretch across your pec muscles. Hold that stretch for 20 seconds, then repeat 4 times.
You can do the shoulder blade squeeze exercise sitting or standing, but keep your back straight and head high. Push your shoulders back, and pull your shoulder blades together. Hold for just a second and repeat 30 times.
To begin the laying external rotation exercise, lay on your side and stack your hips. Keep your elbow resting on your side throughout this exercise. Raise your hand until your arm creates a 90° angle, then lower. Repeat this movement 30 times. For added resistance, hold a water bottle or weight.
For the shoulder flexion with a stick exercise, hold a stick or broom up with both hands. Slowly lower the stick behind your head, and hold there for 5 seconds. Then, raise it up again. Repeat this movement 20 times.
For shoulder rolls, sit or stand up straight and pull shoulders forward. Roll them up and then all the way back as you move them in a circle. Complete 30 circles.
We hope these exercises are effective in restoring your health! As you are working towards a pain free life, please remember these safety tips:
If you feel sharp pain, stop the exercise. If you feel dull pain, as if your muscle is being worked out, that is normal. If the pain is sharp, stop right away.
Start Slowly. If your shoulder is very weak, slowly build upon your exercises and stretches. Stretch more and work out more as you build your strength.
Consult your physical therapist. If you have had an injury to your shoulder, it is important to get your doctor's insight and recommendations.
MacGyver Norris, DPT at Beyond Physical Therapy in Tulsa, OK
Illustrations by Lark Brewer