Tips for Healthy Shoulders

To avoid experiencing shoulder pain, patients should keep physically fit with a balanced program of aerobics, stretching and strengthening all body parts to help to prevent shoulder injuries. If you think you have injured your shoulder, consult a board-certified Orthopaedic physician or physical therapist before starting an exercise program. Here are some specific tips for the shoulders:

  • Apply heat to shoulder muscles before exercise. Heat prepares muscles and tendons for exercise.
  • Keep your arm below shoulder height while doing stretches for the shoulder.
  • Gradually increase movements—big circles, across-body movements, trunk twists, shoulder blade rolls and forward and backward squeezes—during shoulder warm-up.
  • Pendulum stretching exercises relieve pressure on the rotator cuff. While sitting or standing, keep arm vertical and close to the body. Allow arm to swing back and forth in a small diameter (about 1 inch). As symptoms improve, the diameter of swing may be increased. Initially perform the exercise with just the weight of your arm. As shoulder pain improves, progressively add more weight—5 to 10 pounds (a filled gallon container weighs 8 pounds). Perform exercise for 5 minutes once or twice a day.

Muscle-strengthening exercises can be performed about 1 to 2 weeks after doing pendulum stretching exercises. Use elastic exercise bands for a variety of arm exercises. For example, attach band to a doorknob. Then hold your elbow close to your side at a 90 degree angle, grasp the band and pull toward your waist. Hold for 5 seconds. Do 15 to 20 repetitions each day.