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Shoulder hurting? 3 top shoulder physical therapy exercises you should try



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According to research, shoulder pain affects anywhere from 18% to 26% of adults in the U.S. at some point during their lifetimes. Shoulder pain can be debilitating and can result from a variety of conditions. If you’re struggling with pain in your shoulder and you’re considering physical therapy, here are some PT exercises you can try on your own or anticipate a physical therapist to have you do.

What are some of the top causes of shoulder pain that may benefit from PT exercises?

Did you know that physical therapy exercises can improve many shoulder conditions? Some of the most common conditions that affect the shoulder include:

  • Tendinitis — Tendinitis is a condition that involves the tissue that keeps the muscles connected to bones. This tissue can become inflamed as a result of frequent overuse or a sudden injury. Tendinitis most commonly affects athletes like tennis players or golfers but is also common in people who perform repetitive motions at work. It’s common in the knees, elbows and shoulders. When someone develops this condition, they experience aching pain, limited movement and swelling. Inflammation of the tendon may be a cause of shoulder pain for many.
  • Shoulder impingement — Shoulder impingement is characterized by pain in the shoulder, weakness in the arm, swelling in the shoulder and pain at night. Shoulder impingements result from a tendon in the shoulder tearing, thickening, or becoming swollen. Most people develop shoulder impingement with age or after sustaining an injury.
  • Ruptured tendons — When a person experiences a tear in their tendon, specifically in their shoulder, shoulder pain and limited mobility are usually the result. Ruptured shoulder tendons occur after an injury puts enough stress on the tendon to break it. The rupture is often complete, which means that the tendon has completely torn. This type of shoulder injury is severe and causes extreme pain and discomfort that worsens with use. Many tendon ruptures can heal with the help of a physical therapist, but some people may need surgery to reconnect their torn tendons. If surgery is necessary, physical therapy is still beneficial during the recovery process.
  • Frozen shoulder Frozen shoulder involves pain, limited mobility and stiffness in the shoulder joint. When the shoulder hasn’t been moved often enough, the connective tissue inside the joint can become thick. This condition usually occurs in people with diabetes, thyroid disease and cardiac disease.

What physical therapy exercises can help with a shoulder that keeps hurting?

While several conditions can cause someone to have shoulder pain, many physical therapy exercises can help with the pain. Some great physical therapy exercises for the shoulder include:

  • Shoulder circles — To perform shoulder circles, hold each of your arms out, parallel to the floor. Slowly move your arms in small forward circles for several reps; then switch to making small backward circles. Shoulder circles can strengthen the muscles in the shoulder and help protect the rotator cuff from injury.
  • Chest expansion — Another physical therapy exercise that can improve shoulder pain is the chest expansion exercise. To perform this exercise, you can stand up or be seated. Extend your arms out in front of you and touch the palms of your hands together. Then, open both arms so they’re as far apart as possible. You should feel the muscles activate in both your upper back and shoulders. Try to stretch your arms back as far as you can without hurting.
  • Shoulder swing — If you’re going to physical therapy for your shoulder condition, your therapist will likely have you perform shoulder swings. To perform this exercise, first, stand with your legs shoulder width apart. You’ll need to hold small weights in each hand. Next, perform the beginning of a squat while swinging your weights backward. As you pop up from your squat, swing your arms forward and all the way up toward the ceiling. Perform these shoulder swings repeatedly with several squats as instructed.

Our REPAIR SI team can treat your shoulder condition with PT exercises

At REPAIR SI, our range of services includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, acupuncture and fitness training. When you come to us for shoulder pain treatment, you can achieve your best physical, mental and spiritual life. We value whole-body treatment. This means your care will encompass more than one area of your life. Each of our patients matters to us. Because of this, we’re working with our community to provide you with the high-quality care and resources you need.

Our team members are committed to professionally serving our community. Our goal is to help each of our patients feel good about their care. If you’re struggling with a shoulder condition that is causing you pain, you can feel confident we’re offering the right physical therapy treatment for you.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.