13 Exercises To Get Relief From Shoulder Pain

This is a contributed article by Dr. Brent Wells

Shoulder pain can really get you in a twist. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, you might consider trying shoulder-specific exercises to relieve pain and promote healing of your shoulder. Studies show that exercises can make a big difference in your pain over time.

Many of these exercises can be done in the comfort of your home. Whenever you start doing new exercises, be sure to start them slowly, don’t push yourself and use the right equipment. Stretching should feel pleasant, not painful. If you want to speed up your recovery, you’ll take it easy with these exercises until your strength and mobility are improved. Let’s go over these stretches so you can start getting pain relief today.


Child’s pose

This yoga pose is great for stretching your neck, shoulder and back muscles. It’s a good way to start your morning routine, and it’s also relaxing. To do it, kneel down and sit back on your heels. Then, stretch your body forward so that your arms are extending out, your head is touching the floor and your stomach is resting on your thighs. You can hold this stretch for 30 seconds for best results.

Arm swings (“pendulum”)

Arm swings are a good way to loosen your shoulder joint. To do this, stay standing and place one hand on a flat surface (such as a chair or table) for support. Then, position your arm so it can swing forward and backward. You can start small and then increase the swing as you get more comfortable. Arm swings can be done both front and back, as well as side to side.

Arm across the chest

This stretch is good for opening your chest and shoulders. Stretch your right hand in front of your body, then pull it close across your chest to the left side. Make sure you’re not doing this in a painful way. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Forearm turn

This is another good exercise to work on flexibility. Start by sitting down and placing your elbow bent at your side. Then, turn out your forearms so that you’re making a kind of wave. Return your hands to your center and repeat.

Shoulder rolls

This exercise will give you immediate relief. You can do this exercise sitting or standing, depending on what’s most comfortable. Make sure your back is straight and then roll your shoulders down and back, and around in a circle. You can repeat this up to 10 times and change directions as well.

Cow-face pose

The idea behind this stretch is to lock your right hand over your shoulder and your left hand under your shoulder. To do this, reach your right arm straight up and then bend your hand back behind your head. At the same time, reach your left arm behind your back and bend your hand upwards toward the shoulder blade. You should be able to reach your fingertips to lock this stretch. You can also repeat this on the other side by switching positions.

T, Y, and I stretch

Like the name, this stretch involves making the T, Y and I letters with your arms. To do it, make sure your back is straight and your palms face out. Start with your arms tucked at your side and then lift them, making a T shape and then continuing upwards to make a Y and then an I shape. The idea is to keep your body neutral and flat as you stretch.

Thread the needle

Thread the needle

Get on your hands and knees. Then, lift your left hand up and “thread” it down through the gap between your right arm and leg. Your arm should slide through and create an aligned stretch that involves a natural rotation. Don’t force your arm too far though. You should stop when your hips start to tilt.

Neck stretch

This neck stretch is great for getting relief in your shoulders, especially below your neck. To do it, slowly bring your chin towards your chest and really feel the stretch. You can also lean your head to the left or right to stretch each shoulder. Hold these stretches for no longer than 60 seconds on each side.

Seated twist

The seated twist is a great stretch when you’re working at a desk. Sit straight up and twist your body to the right, placing your left hand on your outer thigh. You should look towards your right, as well and hold this stretch for around 15 seconds.

Windmill stretch

The windmill stretch is done by lying on the ground to one side, with your knees together and bent at 90 degrees. You should start with your arms together as well, and then reach one up and over your body, forming a T shape. Be sure to switch sides and repeat this exercise up to 15 times.

Reverse shoulder stretch

To do this stretch, stand tall and reach your hands behind you near your lower back. Then, lock your fingers together and keep your back straight as you push your arms upwards and feel the stretch. You should hold this stretch for 30-60 seconds.

Window cleaning exercise

Window cleaning exercise

This exercise uses your forearms and shoulders for lasting relief. To do it, stand facing a wall and place your hands on it. You can use a cloth as if you were actually cleaning a window. Then, make large rotational movements, extending your arms all the way out in both directions. You should repeat this exercise 10 times each in both directions.

Final takeaway

In addition to these stretches, you should make sure that nothing is stressing your shoulder unnecessarily. Be sure your mattress is comfortable for your back and shoulders at night, and get a high-quality bag so that your shoulder doesn’t have to pull extra weight. You should also make sure your office space is ergonomic so that you’re not slouching at your desk during the day. And when at home, get yourself a comfortable couch that will not stress your muscles but relax them. For the tall people, you could consider big and tall recliners for the best relaxation.

Also, it’s a good idea to see a chiropractor for your shoulder pain if you’re struggling for more than a month already. A professional chiropractic clinic will help you get a holistic health care plan for your shoulder pain, including recommendations for diet, exercise, stretching, supplements and adjustments.

We hope you will incorporate these thirteen exercises to help your shoulder heal and strengthen over time!

About Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. is a graduate of the University of Nevada where he earned his bachelor’s of science degree before moving on to complete his doctorate from Western States Chiropractic College. He founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998.

He became passionate about being a Wasilla chiropractor after his own experiences with hurried, unprofessional healthcare providers. The goal for Dr. Wells is to treat his patients with care and compassion while providing them with a better quality of life through his professional treatment.

Dr. Wells is a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. He continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.