Lots of people get sore shoulders. Some of them are swimmers, some are throwers, some do ironman, and some just iron. Shoulder problems happen to teenagers, twenty year olds, and those in their 40s, and they happen for a variety of reasons. The good news is that there are things people can do to help get their shoulders better, and most of those things involve exercises which people can do themselves.
At the Queensland Sports Medicine Centre, we’ve collated our favourite exercises for people who have sore shoulders. Each exercise takes 30 seconds to perform. We recommend completing each exercise twice for a total exercise time of 5 minutes.
1. Sleeper Stretch (added by Sarah Grimstone)
One of the classic reasons for sore shoulders is a lack of shoulder turn in or ‘internal rotation’. This can be simply check by standing in ‘Scarecrow Position’. Standing upright with your arms out to the sides, elbows bent to 90 degrees, turn your palms as far down to the floor as you can and measure the angle of your forearms to the floor (and to each other). This measurement of internal rotation has been observed for 30 years as a key predictor of risk for shoulder troubles.
If you notice that your turn in is different on one side, the sleeper stretch is a proven way to help improve this:
- Lie on your side with your lower arm out in front of you and your elbow bent
- Use your upper arm to push down and internally rotate the lower forearm
- When you get to the limit, roll your body forward onto your lower arm to add to the stretch. [A trigger ball can be applied under the lower arm to increase the stretch further]
- Hold for 30 seconds
2. Happy Clavicles (added by Laura Schwab)
Happy Clavicles is a Postural Cue to promote good shoulder and shoulder blade positioning. It involves:
- Sitting or standing upright
- Chin Tucked
- Imagine the space between your two collarbones at the front of your sternum.
- Try to create a ‘smile’ using the ends of your collarbones by raising your sternum skywards.
- Hold for 30 seconds
3. Supraspinatus Activators (added by Tammie Dare)
Supraspinatus is one of the most commonly injured muscles in the rotator cuff. Almost everyone who gets a sore shoulder has some kind of involvement of the supraspinatus whether primary or secondary. Here is a great exercise to get it going at an early stage:
- Standing with ‘Happy Clavicles’
- Lift the arms out to the side a small way (15 degrees) as your start point
- Side raise from 15 to 45 degrees while holding ‘happy clavicles’
- Repeat for 30 seconds to activate and relearn the correct motion
4. Turn Outs (added by Dolph Francis)
Turn Out exercises involve retraining the Infraspinatus muscle. This muscle is also commonly injured in shoulder problems.
- Lie on your unaffected side with a rolled up towel under the arm to be exercised.
- Hold Happy Clavicles
- Use a light weight in your hand and ‘turn out’
- Repeat for 30 seconds
5. Seated Row (added by Adam Russell)
Seated Row is the first of the basic gym exercises to be done in shoulder rehabilitation therapy and is the signalling point that you can return to strength and conditioning. This exercise can be done at home using tubing as resistance.
- Sit at the equipment, or stand if using tubing. Choose a load that your body can do easily at first to ensure you learn the correct activation sequence.
- Hold happy clavicles.
- Holding your resistance, activate your shoulder blades to ensure you have control at the back.
- Draw your elbows back until your elbows come in line with your body.
- Repeat this for 30 seconds.