Top 5 Shoulder Impingement Exercises: You Can Do At Home

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Have you ever felt a needlelike pain in your shoulder, which felt unbearable for a couple of seconds? Well, that can happen to anyone at any time, but it usually happens after an injury or intense stress on your rotator cuffs. When you go through an accident or shoulder dislocation, it can affect your clavicle ligaments, tendons, and bones, giving you sudden painful experiences.

Well, that’s not exactly shoulder impingement, but close to it. Anyway, shoulder impingement happens when your tendons start to rub against the acromion present in the upper side of your shoulder. The reasons behind it could be lowered bone density or damage to the area. And, if you are looking to recover from the pain and fear of it happening again, make sure to read further paras completely:

Shoulder impingement syndrome (SIS): How To Heal?

Shoulder impingement syndrome

Shoulder Impingement Syndrome (SIS) is a condition where the tendons of the rotator cuff and the subacromial bursa become compressed and irritated, leading to pain, inflammation, and limited range of motion in the shoulder joint. It often occurs when the space between the acromion (part of the shoulder blade) and the rotator cuff narrows, causing the structures to rub against each other during certain arm movements.

SIS is commonly associated with overhead activities and repetitive motions and may result from factors like muscle imbalances, poor posture, or anatomical variations. Treatment may include rest, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in some cases, surgical intervention. Individuals experiencing shoulder pain or discomfort should seek medical evaluation for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management.

When it comes to doing exercises to improve your shoulder and continue with your regular activities, there are various types you can choose from. Doing any shoulder exercise will only make them stronger over time. However, that’s the case only for people with normal shoulders; if you have shoulder impingement, you have to do some special ones to recover and build strength over time. From recovery to building strength in your muscles, it takes time and effort, so make sure to continue your diet and rest alongside.

Exercise 1: Thoracic Spine Extension

Thoracic spine extension involves arching the upper back, specifically the 12 vertebrae in the mid-back region. This movement is crucial for maintaining good posture, preventing stiffness, and supporting various daily activities.

To perform Thoracic Spine Extension:

  1. Sit or stand with a straight back.
  2. Interlace your fingers and place your hands behind your head.
  3. Inhale, gently arching your upper back without straining your lower back.
  4. Exhale and return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions, focusing on the mobility of your mid-back.
  6. Alternatively, try the cat-cow yoga stretch: On hands and knees, arch your back upward (cat) and then extend it downward (cow).
  7. Include these exercises in your routine to improve thoracic spine flexibility, enhance posture, and reduce stiffness. Consult a professional for personalized guidance and adjustments.

Exercise 2: Lat Stretch

The Lat Stretch targets the latissimus dorsi muscles, promoting shoulder flexibility and relieving tension. To perform:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Raise one arm overhead, bending at the elbow.
  3. Bend your torso gently to the opposite side, feeling a stretch along the side of the body.
  4. Hold for 15-30 seconds, breathing deeply.
  5. Repeat on the other side.
  6. Seated or kneeling positions can also be used for variations.
  7. Regular lat stretching enhances upper body flexibility, reduces stiffness, and aids in overall posture. Ensure proper form and consult a fitness professional for personalized guidance.

Exercise 3: Static Hang

The Static Hang is a simple yet effective exercise for shoulder and upper body mobility. To perform:

  1. Find a sturdy horizontal bar or pull-up bar.
  2. Reach up, grab the bar with an overhand grip, and hang freely.
  3. Allow your body to hang passively, focusing on relaxing your shoulders and elongating the spine.
  4. Keep a slight bend in your elbows.
  5. Hold the position for 30 seconds to a minute.
  6. The Static Hang decompresses the spine, stretches the shoulders, and engages the core.
  7. Regular practice can improve grip strength, and shoulder flexibility, and may alleviate tension. Ensure a secure grip and proper form.

Exercise 4: Chest Opener (Pec Stretch)

The Chest Opener, or Pec Stretch, is a beneficial exercise to relieve tightness in the chest muscles. To perform:

  1. Stand in an open doorway with arms at a 90-degree angle against the door frame.
  2. Step forward, allowing a gentle stretch across the chest.
  3. Hold for 15-30 seconds while maintaining proper posture.
  4. Alternatively, perform a seated or standing chest stretch by clasping hands behind your back.
  5. The Chest Opener helps counteract forward shoulder posture, improving upper body flexibility.
  6. Incorporate into your routine to alleviate tension, enhance posture, and promote a more balanced upper body. Consult a fitness professional for guidance.

Exercise 5: Arm Circles

To perform Arm Circles:

  1. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend arms laterally, forming a “T” shape.
  3. Initiate small circular motions with your arms.
  4. Gradually increase the circle diameter.
  5. Engage in both clockwise and counterclockwise rotations.
  6. Keep movements controlled, focusing on shoulder muscles.
  7. Maintain proper posture and avoid excessive body movement.
  8. Perform for 30 seconds to 1 minute, adjusting intensity as needed.
  9. Incorporate Arm Circles into warm-ups to enhance shoulder mobility, reduce stiffness, and boost blood circulation.
  10. If you have shoulder concerns, consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before incorporating Arm Circles into your routine.

Importance Of Diet And Rest

As mentioned before, your shoulder impingement is not caused only due to an incident or dislocation; other things like poor diet and lack of sleep are also at work there. When you do any type of exercise or work throughout the day, your body gets damaged at microscopic levels, whether it's your muscles or bones.

The damage needs to be repaired while you eat a nutritious diet and take plenty of rest at night. And what happens when you don’t take any one of them seriously? The nutrition or recovery gets affected, and the accumulated damage causes serious issues like bone degradation and shoulder impingement. 

So, have at least a couple of meals filled with protein, calcium, and magnesium in them to ensure bone health all over your body. Make sure you are taking enough rest to recover properly, even if you have suffered the impingement. 

The Wrap Up

When you are suffering from intense pain from your shoulder impingement, you can go for pain relief medication for temporary relief. However, never get dependent on those medications, as they can cause other health issues related to your kidneys and liver. Make sure you are getting enough rest, a proper diet, and spending a good amount of time doing the exercises mentioned above if you want to recover properly.

References

  • National Institute Of Health(2018) The Strengthening Exercises in Shoulder Impingement trial (The SExSI-trial) investigating the effectiveness of a simple add-on shoulder strengthening exercise program in patients with long-lasting subacromial impingement syndrome: Study protocol for a pragmatic, assessor-blinded, parallel-group, randomized, controlled trial Available Online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5833202/
  • National Institute Of Health(2023) Shoulder Impingement Syndrome Available Online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554518/

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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