Shoulder pain is a very common problem, sometimes due to acute injury but very often insidious and secondary to factors such as poor posture and our modern lifestyle. This is not an exhaustive list but here are 9 exercises that can help you avoid shoulder pain.
Note: Shoulder pain can be complex and often challenging to treat so prevention is the best approach. If you already have shoulder pain you should seek medical advice and have a thorough biomechanical exam, followed by a personalized treatment and exercise program designed by a healthcare professional (eg physiotherapist, athletic therapist/ athletic trainer).
If any exercise below causes pain, discontinue and consult your healthcare professional.
Shoulder pain can originate from a forward rounded posture of the upper body, often due to slouchy posture, desk work, video games, computer and cellphone usage, etc. To combat this poor postural alignment and eventual pain, add these exercises to your daily routine.
Details about each exercise can be found at the link below, including video demonstration of each exercise, as well as suggested sets, reps and frequency.
- Foam roll to middle area of your spine (thoracic spine)
- Shoulder blade retraction
- Chin tucks (cervical retraction)
A second cause of shoulder pain can be tightness in certain muscles around the shoulder. Stretching these muscles can help reduce the chances of developing pain in the shoulder region. Hold stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds.
- UFT stretch
- Pec stretch
Weakness in critical shoulder stabilizing muscles can lead to shoulder pain. Most of these weak muscles are in the back of the shoulder ie posterior rotator cuff and scapula stabilizers, so we will concentrate our preventative strengthening there.
- Rotator cuff strengthening (emphasis on posterior rotator cuff muscles)
- Scapula (shoulder blade) muscle strengthening (emphasis on serratus anterior muscles)
Core weakness can be a precursor to many injuries, including shoulder pain. Keep your inner and outer core strong.
- Diaphragmatic breathing (inner core) - this can be augmented with a diaphragm training device eg PowerBreather
- Bird dog (outer core)
To access this program, please visit:
Following this exercise regimen will go a long way to preventing shoulder pain.
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