Shoulder Impingement Exercises

By Adam Cloe

Shoulder impingement happens when some of the muscles and tendons of the rotator cuff become caught or pinched by bony structures in the shoulder. This can make actions such as swinging a golf club difficult, and extremely painful. Shoulder impingement can be treated aggressively with surgery, but also more conservatively with exercise and stretching the joint.

Postural Exercise

This exercise will help re-establish shoulder stability and range of motion. Begin by standing, or sitting if that is more comfortable, with your back and shoulders straight and arms hanging loosely at your sides. Next, extend arms behind you, and gently pull shoulder blades back and down. Hold this position for five seconds, then relax. Repeat this exercise five times every hour.

Arm Swing

This exercise will help develop a full range of motion without pain. Bend over so your upper body is at a 90-degree angle to your legs, and your back is straight. Hold on to the back of a chair for support with your uninjured arm if necessary. Let the injured arm hang loose toward the floor. Slowly swing it in a circular motion clockwise for 15 seconds, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Repeat moving the arm counterclockwise. Then, gently swing the arm from front to back for 15 seconds, and then from side to side for 15 seconds. Try to perform this exercise every hour.

Pretzel Twist

The pretzel twist helps stretch and strengthen shoulders. Reach over to your good shoulder with the injured arm. Grab the elbow of the injured shoulder with the hand of your good arm, and gently pull it toward your good side. Hold for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise, only this time have the injured arm reach behind your head. Finally, stretch the injured arm behind your back, and clasp the hand on the injured side with the hand from the healthy arm. Gently pull toward your good side. These three movements should be repeated three to five times an hour.

About The Author

Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals. He is an M.D./Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago. He has a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, where he won an award for excellence in undergraduate science writing.


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