Physical Activities for Shoulder Pain


The shoulder is a complex combination of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons. A large portion of shoulder issues result from the breakdown of soft tissue located in the shoulder area. The region experiencing shoulder pain can vary from a small area, a broad area, or the entire arm. Shoulder pain can range from mild to severe.

Physical activities for shoulder pain

Shoulder pain can have many causes, including tendonitis, frozen shoulder, general tightness, or tears in the muscle. Treatment options for shoulder pain may include physical movement to the area.

Physical activities can help strengthen the shoulder and prevent future injury to the area. A health care professional should be consulted prior to adding physical activities into a daily routine, especially when an injury or other condition is involved. Below are a few examples of basic activities that can ease certain types of shoulder pain.


  • Bring one arm across the chest.
  • Use the hand or opposite elbow to support the arm.
  • Relax the shoulder and draw it towards the chest.
  • Hold from 15 seconds up to one minute while stretching the shoulder.
  • Repeat on the opposite side.
  • Repeat three to five times for each shoulder.

Towel stretch

  • Hold one end of a three-foot-long towel behind the back with one hand.
  • Grab the opposite end behind the back with the other hand.
  • Hold the towel horizontally.
  • Use the arm of the uninjured shoulder to pull the injured arm upward, while stretching the arm and shoulder.
  • Repeat 10 to 20 times each day as needed.

Lateral raises

  • Stand with the arms down at the sides.
  • While holding a light weight (one to five pounds), extend the arms up and away from the body to shoulder height.
  • Hold for five seconds.
  • Slowly release.
  • Repeat 10 to 12 times in three sets.

Armpit stretch

  • Lift the arm of the affected shoulder onto a table or shelf about breast-high.
  • Gently bend the knees, while opening up the armpit.
  • Deepen the knee bend to further open the armpit, and then straighten.
  • Stretch a little further with each repetition without forcing it.
  • Repeat 10 to 20 times each day.