10 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain

By guest blogger Dr. Brent Wells, D.C.

Shoulder pain is a common problem that affects many. While surgery and medications can sometimes help, they don’t always fix the problem. Because of this, it’s ideal to use natural means to help relieve shoulder pain, such as with exercises. Below you’ll find 10 exercises you can try to help alleviate shoulder pain. 

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Shoulder pain can be caused by a variety of different issues. Most of the time this pain results because of an injury, but it can also develop because of an underlying problem. This includes rotator cuff tendinitis, arthritis, frozen shoulder, and pinched nerves. 

Most of the time shoulder pain can be treated naturally with the help of chiropractic care. How chiropractors treat shoulder pain depends on how intense it is and the location it occurs on the shoulder. 

10 Exercises to Help Reduce Shoulder Pain

Neck Release

This exercise involves you turning your neck side to side in a slow motion. To begin, slowly turn your head to the right until you feel a slight pull in your neck. Once you do, stop and hold this position for about 15 seconds. After the time is up, repeat this motion on the opposite side. Continue this process about 10 times. 

Downward Dog

Downward dog is a popular yoga exercise that is known to help stretch both your shoulders and spine. To do this exercise, stand straight and then slowly move your body down to the ground. Keep your palms flat on the floor and your knees as straight as you can. Your body should resemble a v-shape as you do so. Try to move your hands as close to your feet as possible. You should feel a slight pull in your shoulders, back, and legs as you do so. Hold this pose and then slowly move your body back down to the ground. 

Across-the-Chest Stretch

Another helpful exercise to help relieve shoulder pain is the across-the-chest stretch. Simply hold one arm across your body and keep it in place with your opposite hand. Keep it held like this for a few seconds and then switch to the other side. 


If you’re searching for something simple to do, the pendulum exercise might be good to try. The pendulum exercise involves you swinging your arms back and forth as a pendulum would. This can help to increase your range of motion and reduce tense muscles that cause pain. 

To start this exercise, lean one arm on a table. You should let the shoulder that has pain rest on the table to begin with to help warm it up. As you’re leaning on the table, let your other hand hang off the side. Slowly start to swing your arm back and forth and eventually let gravity do the moving for you. Don’t move your arm. Instead, let it naturally stop moving. For best results, repeat the pendulum exercise about three times per day for about five minutes. 

Chest Expansion

A chest expansion exercise is an easy one to do if you want to start slow. To do it, stand as straight as you can. Then, lift your arms up slowly in a straight line. Make sure to keep your breathing at a calm level as you do so. Raise your arms slightly toward your head until you feel a small pull in your shoulders. Once you do, slowly bring your hands back down to your waist. 

You can do a chest expansion exercise with your hands going up and down or forward and backward. This exercise will help to release tight muscles in your neck and shoulders which can reduce pain in them. 

Upper Trapezius Stretch

The upper trapezius is one of the biggest muscles in your back and connects to your shoulders. If you damage this muscle, it can create severe pain in your shoulders. Because of this, it’s important to keep it in good shape. 

To do an upper trapezius stretch simply place one of your hands on your stomach and the other hand on the lower portion of your back. Pull your head so that it faces one of your shoulders and you feel a slight pull in it. Keep this position for a few seconds and then switch your hands and pull your head to the opposite side. Repeat this motion about five times. 

Child’s Pose

The child’s pose is well-known for its ability to help release tension in your back and shoulders. If you want to do the child’s pose, you first need to kneel on the floor. Keep your knees together as you do so and put the top of your head flat on the floor. After you do, push your arms tightly to the side of your body. 

Then, inhale slowly and then bring your arms forward to stretch your back. Keep this position for about 10 seconds and then return back to the original pose. You can continue this exercise for as long as necessary. 

Elbow-Out Rotator Stretch

The elbow-out rotator stretch can be done by placing your left hand (palm facing outward) on the middle of your back. You can then take your right hand and grab onto your left elbow and pull it forward. As you do so, you should feel a pull in your shoulders. Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat the process on the other side. 

Swimmers Pose

This pilates exercise will help to strengthen your shoulders, back, and legs. To do it, lay flat on the floor on your stomach. Then, lift your legs and arms up so that your belly button is off of the ground. Move your legs and arms in opposite directions to help stretch them out. Watch your breathing as you do so and ensure that you inhale and exhale slowly. 

Side Planks

Side planks might seem like they would increase shoulder pain, but if done right, can help to reduce it. This is because it strengthens your back and shoulder muscles and helps loosen up tight ones. 

Get down on the ground and prop your body up on one side with one of your forearms. After doing so, lift up the opposite arm and leg until your body is in a straight line. Repeat this about five times and then switch to your other side.  

Shoulder pain can be a huge nuisance. If you want to help naturally relieve it, these ten exercises are something you should consider trying. 




About the Author

Dr. Brent Wells founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab in Alaska in 1998. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles without drugs or invasive surgeries. He brings a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care. Dr. Wells continues to further his education with ongoing studies in spine conditions, neurology, physical rehabilitation, biomechanics, occupational ergonomics, whiplash, and brain injury traumatology. He is also a member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. 

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