When it comes to finding the right exercises for you, it can be easy to become lost in the jargon and endless recommendations online – especially if you are suffering from ongoing joint pain – such as shoulder impingement – which can be worsened without the proper regimen of exercises to go along with it.
Luckily though, there are numerous techniques you can find out there to help you grow muscle, burn fat, and get the kinds of results you want from your workout routine, all without causing further harm to existing shoulder problems.
But what exactly is shoulder impingement, and what are the best exercises to add to your routine?
What Does ‘Shoulder Impingement’ Mean?
Otherwise known as ‘shoulder impingement syndrome’, shoulder impingement is an ailment involving tendonitis of rotator cuff muscles as they pass between an area of the shoulder called the ‘subacromial space’, which is a passage located beneath a component called the acromion.
Similarly, this is also associated with the tendonitis of the supraspinatus muscle – which when combined together can result in pain, inflammation, weakness, and even loss of movement in the shoulder.
What Are The Symptoms?
As mentioned, the main symptoms of shoulder impingement are pain, weakness, inflammation, and a more limited range of movement within the shoulder itself.
The pain itself is referred to as being dull (rather than sharp), lingering for a period of time, and being made worse by overhead shoulder movements.
What Causes Shoulder Impingement?
Generally speaking, shoulder impingement is caused by inflammation of the areas within the above mentioned areas of the shoulder – and happens when the subacromial space narrows for extended periods of time.
This happens when the arm is raised, and as such, choosing the right exercises that tackle this can be the difference between improving the condition or making it much worse.
What Are The Best Treatment Methods?
Depending on the severity of the condition, the range of movement that you have, and the demands on your physical wellbeing, there are several options that doctors can recommend for shoulder impingement syndrome.
This is one of the most important elements for recovery – regardless of the type of injury that you are suffering from.
Refraining from strenuous movement, and exercises that could cause further injury, is an important part of the process, and will allow your body to heal much more quickly than it would otherwise.
This is another element of recovery, and one that encompasses the exercises listed on this article.
This will be in conjunction with rest – as well as the cessation of the painful activity that either caused the injury to begin with (or which could cause further problems relating to the injury).
You might also be provided with steroidal medication to help lessen the inflammation, and improve motion of the shoulder.
This is not always the case, but in instances where there is a lot of inflammation, this can be beneficial for wider recovery.
Surgery is always the last option for doctors, and it is seldom necessary, however in instances where there is severe impingement of the shoulder, extreme pain, or severe lack of movement and looseness, surgery can be a helpful solution.
The 10 Best Shoulder Impingement Exercises
Now that we know more about what shoulder impingement is, as well as the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, let’s take a closer look at some exercises that you can do to help strengthen your shoulder again, avoid further injury, and regain some of that lost mobility.
All of these exercises are low resistance, easy to accomplish, and are perfectly designed to improve shoulder impingement problems!
The first exercise on this list is called the ‘pendulum’ – or the ‘arm hang’ – and this really couldn’t be simpler.
To begin, bend at the waist, resting one arm on the back of a chair in front of you, and resting your forehead on top of that arm.
Then, taking the affected arm, you simply need to let it hang loosely, being sure to keep your body firm, but allowing the arm to loosely hang down.
You should then gently swing your arm left to right, as well as in small circles, to loosen the shoulder up, and allow you to get as much movement as possible.
This should be done for approximately 30-60 seconds at a time, being sure not to overdo it.
2. Doorway Stretch
This is exactly what it sounds like, and involves you raising your elbow so that it is above your shoulder and in line with the doorframe, and then turning your body away from your elbow, doing so until you feel a nice stretching sensation.
This should not be done so far as to cause pain, but is a good way to loosen up the shoulder, and help movement to return over time.
This should ideally be done for 10-20 seconds at a time, for 2-3 times per day.
3. Foam Roller Supine Stretch
As the name suggests, this exercise requires the use of a foam roller, although you could also use something like a rolled up towel.
This is perfect for opening up the chest, working the pectoral muscles, and loosening up the shoulders, and to do this you need to lay along the foam roller or towel (lengthwise) so that it runs along your spine.
Then open your arms into a t-shape, and allow gravity to stretch each shoulder out, doing so for approximately 30 seconds, and repeating 2-3 times per day (or as much as you feel comfortable with).
4. Countertop Thoracic Extension
Next we have the countertop thoracic extension, another great exercise that requires you to rest your elbows on a countertop with your hands together in a prayer position.
Then you need to keep your back straight, and bend your knees, lowering yourself down and stretching gently across your back, and opening up your shoulders.
This should once again be done for a period of 20-30 seconds, and repeated 2-3 times per day.
5. Wall Slides
Next we have wall slides, which involves you standing parallel to the wall (facing it), with your arms extended, your elbows touching the wall, and your forearms upright against the wall.
Then what you need to do is move your arms up and down, from an extended position to the starting position – being sure to only extend as is comfortable.
To begin, start with 3 sets of 10 wall slides per day, and increase as necessary.
6. Countertop Plank W/ Push-up
This one once again requires the use of the countertop, and you need to position yourself at a 70 degree angle, resting on your outstretched arms, and then gently bending your elbows until you feel a slight stretch.
The goal for this should be 20-30 times per day, and before long you should begin to increase your strength and mobility.
7. Supine Serratus Punch
This is another great exercise, and requires you to lay on your back, with your knees bent, and your afflicted arm extended upwards.
You could also hold a light weight (such as a full water bottle) in your hand to increase resistance. Then you need to extend your arm upwards using only your shoulder.
Try 3 sets of 10 repetitions per day, and increase if you feel able and comfortable to do so.
8. Scapular Retraction
For the scapular retraction, you should stand with your back straight, your arms bent by your sides, and then bring your shoulder blades together, and out again.
For the best results, try 20-30 of these exercises every day, increasing as you feel comfortable.
9. Standing Shoulder Rotation
Another great exercise is the standing shoulder rotation, which as its name suggests, involves you standing upright with a rolled towel under your armpit, then extending your arm outwards until you feel a pull.
You can try this without an exercise band at first, but then add one later to add resistance. Begin with 3 sets of 10 reps per day, and increase as necessary.
10. Elbow Flares
Last but not least, we have elbow flares, requiring you to lay on your back with your hands crossed behind your head. Then bring your elbows in together, and then lower them out once more.
Hold for 3-5 seconds, and then repeat 10-20 times per day.
And there we have it, everything you need to know about shoulder impingement, and the best exercises to gain muscle, burn fat, and make the most from your weekly workout routine.
It’s true that, when it comes to exercising, there are many ways that you can become confused – especially when it comes to what exercises are right for you, and which ones are not beneficial.
Luckily though, there have never been so many resources out there to help you get the best workout for you, and help you see the best results!