The Shoulder! An enormously complex joint with an enormous range of movements! The shoulder is one of the most common sites of musculoskeletal pain that is reported to healthcare professionals.

The shoulder can be susceptible to posture and work ergonomics, which makes overuse injuries common. We also see lots of sports and gym-related injuries to the shoulder due to the large range of movement available. Acute shoulder pain can settle quickly with treatment and activity management.

However, long term pain can be difficult to treat due to things like long-standing weakness, stiffness and soft tissue changes. This doesn’t mean that things can’t improve though with shoulder pain relief exercises! With good rehabilitation, good compliance and consistency, we often see patients improve their upper limb function and a reduction in their pain.


1. Think about your posture!

Let’s not blame it all on posture but sustained positions at the computer, your desk, on your mobile probably aren’t doing you any favours whether you have shoulder pain or not!

2. Stay active and maintain mobility in the shoulder

This doesn’t mean you need to take up bench pressing or gymnastics. Simply maintain your normal day to day activity. Try to avoid neglecting the use of the shoulder and holding it across your body. When it comes to mobility, it is use-it-or-lose-it!

3. Support your arms at work

Using simple things like a keyboard or mouse pad to provide some support to your arms can help offload your shoulder a little

4. Avoid aggravating factors

‘It hurts when I poke it’ DON’T POKE IT. You wouldn’t believe the number of times we hear this. Simple modifications in your day to day activity can help settle the painful shoulder down. For example, if it’s painful to put your arm into a jacket, try putting that arm in first to avoid reaching back as far.

5. Avoid exercises that cause pain

The ‘no pain, no gain’ attitude is not helpful in this situation. If you’re in the gym and military presses are hurting your shoulder, stop! This doesn’t mean forever, but maybe the shoulder needs a break or the demands on the shoulder at present are too much.


As we have already said, the shoulder has a huge range of movements; therefore there are endless possibilities of exercises for movement, strength, proprioception and sport-specific tasks.

Below are a few exercises for pain relief & mobility to start self-management of your shoulder pain.

1. Pendulum exercises – a very simple set of exercises that can be used when there is a lot of pain or when the shoulder is very stiff. Using a desk/back of a chair/bed, support your body weight with your uninjured arm and lean forward to allow the injured arm to hang. Gently swing the arm forwards, backwards, left, right and in circles.

2. Hand behind the backstretch/towel behind the back – a simple exercise that can be used to stretch the shoulder. Start with holding it for 10-20 secs and gradually build up the time.

3. Shoulder openers in a doorway – a great stretch to open up the chest. this can be particularly useful for people to slouch/round their shoulders due to long hours in front of a computer, or gym goers who maybe bias their chest a bit too much!

4. External rotation stretch – another simple stretch using readily available household items such as a broom or mop. Holding a mop/broom in both hands, use your uninjured side to push the mop, which will allow the shoulder to rotate outward. ​