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8 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tightness

If you're experiencing shoulder pain, these 8 exercises can help to relieve tension and discomfort. These simple stretches will help get your shoulders feeling better quickly.

James Cambell
8 Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tightness
Table Of Contents

Shoulder pain and tightness are among the most common problems faced by fitness enthusiasts. While there can be many causes, these issues can often be traced back to two primary culprits: poor posture and a lack of mobility.

You probably don't think about your shoulders until they start to hurt. And by then, it's often too late - the damage has been done. In this post, we'll take a look at how to identify and correct these problems.

We'll also explore 8 of the best exercises to relieve shoulder pain that can help you maintain healthy shoulders and improve your overall fitness level. So whether you're dealing with a nagging injury or just want to avoid one in the future, keep reading!

How to Prevent Shoulder Pain

Many people suffer from shoulder pain at some point in their lives. In fact, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, shoulder problems are the third most common type of musculoskeletal complaint.

The shoulder is a complex joint of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, all of which can be susceptible to injury or pain. Most shoulder pain is caused by the rotator cuff tendons getting stuck under the bony part of the shoulder. The tendons get swollen or hurt. This is called tendinitis or bursitis of the rotator cuff.

There are a number of possible causes of shoulder pain, including injury, arthritis, and poor posture. However, one of the most common causes is simply tension in the muscles and tendons around the shoulder. This can be caused by everything from stress to sleeping in an awkward position.

Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to prevent shoulder pain or at least keep it from getting worse.

  • Posture: Pay attention to your posture. When you stand, sit, or sleep, make sure that your shoulders are in alignment with your ears. This will help to prevent strain on the muscles and joints in the shoulder area.
  • Avoid Repetitive Motions: If you do the same thing over and over again, it can cause inflammation and pain in the shoulder joint. If you have a job that requires repetitive motions, take breaks often and try to vary your position as much as possible.
  • Use Proper Form When Lifting Weights: Lifting weights puts a lot of strain on the shoulders, so it's important to lift with your legs, not your back. Use lighter weights and don't try to lift more than you're capable of. If you start to feel pain, stop immediately and rest for a few days before trying again.

By following these simple tips, you can help prevent shoulder pain before it starts. If you already have shoulder pain, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You can also do the following exercises to strengthen your shoulder muscles and joints and prevent future injuries.

Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Pain and Tightness

Here are 8 of the best exercises if you suffer from shoulder pain or want to prevent them in the future.

1. Neck Release

If you suffer from shoulder pain, neck release exercises can be a great way to get relief. These exercises help to release tension in the muscles and ligaments around the neck, allowing for a greater range of motion.

They also help to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. Neck release exercises are best done slowly and gently.

  • Start by sitting or standing in a relaxed position.
  • Gently tilt your head to one side, letting your ear come down toward your shoulder. Hold for a count of five, then repeat on the other side.
  • You can also try gently massaging the muscles on either side of your neck.

If you do these exercises regularly, you should start to see a reduction in shoulder pain.

2. Eagle Arms Spinal Rolls

Eagle Arms Spinal Rolls are a simple, effective way to reduce shoulder pain.

  • Put your arms out to the sides while you're sitting or standing.
  • Cross your elbows in front of your body so that your right arm is on top.
  • Put the backs of your hands and forearms together. Bend your elbows.
  • Bring your palms together by reaching your right hand around.
  • Just stay here for 15 seconds.
  • As you let your breath out, roll your spine and bring your elbows toward your chest.
  • As you take a deep breath in, open your chest and raise your arms.
  • Keep doing this for one minute.
  • On the other side, do it again.

You'll notice a difference after just a few reps - Eagle Arms Spinal Rolls really do provide shoulder pain relief!

So, if you're suffering from shoulder pain, give them a try. You've got nothing to lose but the pain.

3. Across-The-Chest Stretch

If you're looking for a shoulder pain exercise that can help improve your range of motion, the across-the-chest stretch is a great option.

  • To do this stretch, start by standing with your arms at your sides.
  • Then, raise one arm and place it across your chest.
  • Use your other hand to grab your raised arm just above the elbow and pull it in close to your body.
  • You should feel a stretch in your shoulder and upper back. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then release and repeat with the other arm.

This stretch can be done several times per day to help reduce shoulder pain and improve range of motion.

4. Chest Expansion

One of the best exercises you can do to relieve shoulder pain is a chest expansion exercise. This simple movement helps to stretch the muscles and tendons around the shoulder, which can help to reduce pain and improve the range of motion.

  • Hold a resistance band, strap, or towel behind your back with both hands while you're standing.
  • Move your shoulder blades closer together and open up your chest.
  • Look up at the ceiling by lifting your chin.
  • Hold for up to 30 seconds, repeat three to five times.

5. Child's Pose

Child's Pose is a restorative yoga pose that can help to relieve stress and fatigue. The pose is simple to do:

  • Start by sitting on your heels with your knees hip-width apart.
  • Then, lower your forehead to the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you. You can also place a pillow or blanket under your head for support.
  • To intensify the stretch, reach your arms back behind you and grab onto your ankles.
  • Hold the pose for at least five minutes or as long as you feel comfortable.

Child's Pose is an excellent way to relax both the body and the mind, and it can be done at any time of day. Whether you're feeling stressed at work or struggling with pain in both your shoulders, this yoga pose can help you find some relief.

6. Thread the Needle

One of the most common shoulder pain exercises is known as "thread the needle." This exercise helps to stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint.

  • Get on your hands and knees to start. Raise your right hand toward the ceiling, palm facing away from your body.
  • Bring your upturned palmed arm under your chest and to the left side of your body by lowering it.
  • If you don't want to fall into this area, use your right shoulder and arm.
  • You can support yourself by keeping your left hand on the floor, lifting it up toward the ceiling, or bringing it around to the inside of your right thigh.
  • You can stay here for up to 30 seconds.
  • Before you do this stretch again on the left side, take a break in Child's Pose.
  • Hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then release and repeat on the other side.

Thread the needle is a simple but effective exercise for shoulder pain relief.

7. Doorway Shoulder Stretch

One of the most common causes of shoulder pain is tightness in the muscles and connective tissues around the shoulder joint. The doorway shoulder stretch is one such exercise that help to stretch and release these areas, providing relief from pain. To do this stretch, follow these steps:

  • Stand in a doorway and place your forearm on the door frame at shoulder height.
  • Gently lean your body forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your shoulder.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

This stretch can be done several times per day to help relieve shoulder pain.

8. Shoulder Circles

Shoulder circles are a great way to loosen up your shoulder muscles and reduce pain.

  • Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms hanging down at your sides or both hands on your same shoulders. Elbows extended out.
  • Slowly rotate your shoulders forward in a circle, then reverse the direction and rotate them backward.
  • As you rotate your shoulders, be sure to keep your arms straight. Continue for 10-15 rotations in each direction.

If you find this exercise too easy, you can increase the range of motion by adding small, lightweight Neoprene Dumbbells weights to your hands. Shoulder circles are a simple warm-up exercise for shoulder pain relief. Give them a try today!

Tips for these Exercises

If you suffer from shoulder pain, exercises can be a helpful way to reduce your symptoms and improve movement. However, choosing the right exercises for your individual needs is important. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Begin with range of motion exercises. These exercises help to improve shoulder flexibility and range of motion.
  • Progress to strength-training exercises. These exercises help to improve the strength of the shoulder muscles.
  • Incorporate balance and stability exercises. These exercises help to improve balance and stability around the shoulder joint.
  • Finish with stretching exercises. These exercises help to stretch out the shoulder muscles and reduce any tightness or soreness.

By following these tips, you can create a shoulder exercise routine that will help to reduce your shoulder pain and improve your shoulder movement.

Tips to Stay Away From Shoulder Pain

You can avoid shoulder pain by doing these exercises and by following a few simple rules and tips:

  • Use good posture and don't slouch or hunch over when you're sitting, standing, or going about your daily tasks.
  • Keep an eye on how you carry yourself throughout the day and make changes if you need to.
  • Get a lot of rest and take a break from anything that hurts.
  • Be careful when you're reaching for something above you, carrying heavy things, or bending forward. If you have to do these things for work, think about how you can move your body to make it less painful.
  • Make sure you're using the right form and technique when you play sports that hurt your shoulders.

When to See the doctor?

See a doctor or physical therapist if you can't move your shoulders or if the pain gets worse or stays the same after two weeks.

You should also see a doctor right away if you have a fever or have severe pain in both shoulders or both thighs.

A doctor may do an X-ray, an ultrasound scan, or an MRI scan to figure out what's causing the pain and the best way to treat it.


1. How often should I do them?

If you're suffering from chronic shoulder pain, you may need to do shoulder exercises more often than that in order to achieve pain relief. On the other hand, if your shoulder pain is only occasional or mild, you may be able to get away with doing shoulder exercises just once or twice per week.

2. Am I doing them correctly?

When you do any shoulder exercise, make sure that your shoulder blades are pulled down and back. This will help protect your shoulders and ensure that you're working the muscles you intend to work. In addition, avoid raising your shoulders towards your ears - this can put unnecessary stress on your rotator cuff muscles.

3. What should I do if the exercises don't help relieve my shoulder pain and tightness?

Shoulder pain and tightness can often be the result of an injury, such as a rotator cuff tear. If you've been doing your exercises faithfully and they're not helping, it's possible you have an injury that needs to be treated. See your doctor for an evaluation to find out what's going on and get the appropriate treatment.

4. What should I do if the exercises cause more pain?

If the exercises cause more pain, you should stop doing the exercises and consult your doctor. It's possible that you're pushing yourself too hard and might be causing more damage than good.

You might also have an underlying injury that needs to be addressed by a professional. Pain is your body's way of telling you something isn't right, so it's important to listen to it and address the issue as soon as possible.


Shoulder pain is a common ailment that can be caused by many things, from poor posture to an injury. The good news is that there are exercises you can do to help relieve the pain and tightness. These eight exercises are specifically designed to target the muscles and joints in the shoulder. Perform these exercises regularly and you should start to feel relief from your shoulder pain.

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James Cambell

James Cambell is an editor at DMoose, where he loves to write about fitness, nutrition, and health tips. He has received a degree in Nutrition Sciences and is a certified dietitian.

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