The 3 Best Exercises for Shoulder Pain


Have you ever experienced shoulder pain, ache, or discomfort?  Shoulder pain is by far one of the most common things we see people for in our clinic.  Your shoulder is the most mobile joint in your body.  While good shoulder mobility is great for all the activities we do, this added mobility can often lead to shoulder pain if not taken care of. This is great for many of the movements that we ask it to perform, but it can also lead to an increase risk of injury and pain in the area if you are lacking strength or mobility in key areas.  This will not only lead to pain over time, but will also affect your performance with daily activities and with activities in gym and sport.

Similar to our previous posts on lower back and knee pain, the shoulder joint itself is often not the culprit.  When we assess our clients at our clinic, we often find other areas surrounding the shoulder are often as much the cause as the shoulder itself.  As these surrounding areas are not carrying their weight, the shoulder joint is put in positions that it is not designed to be in. Overtime this causes cranky and achy shoulders.  Check out some of our favorite movements below to take the ache out of those shoulders.

Here are the 3 best exercises you can do with nothing but your own body weight that will keep your shoulders strong, mobile, pain-free, and healthy:

You can check out the full demo video with in-depth explanations here or by clicking the video below.


Here are a few of our favorites to get started at for any activity level:


Having proper mobility in your thoracic spine (mid back) is essential for good posture and shoulder mobility.  This needs to be addressed before working on shoulder mobility. You can’t have good shoulder health without first having good movement in your thoracic spine.  Try this mobilization for 2 minutes on each side, focusing on breathing as you work deeper into a stretch.


Having good coordination and strength throughout your shoulder blades will build a solid foundation to accomplish everything your shoulder asks.  Try this movement with a focus on moving nothing but your shoulder blades. If this is new for you, it’s going to be a lot harder than it looks!


Many people are missing the ability to fully extend their shoulders (reaching behind them without the shoulder rolling forward).  You can test this by folding your hands together behind your back, and with the arms straight lift them as far behind you as you can.  If you don’t feel like you’re getting very far with that test (most people don’t), then this exercise is for you. This movement is a 2-for-1 as you simultaneously work strength and mobility in this extended position.

Pain and limited mobility in your shoulder are not normal, and definitely do not happen overnight.  True improvement takes time and these exercises are a great start.

If you continue to struggle with shoulder pain and aren’t getting the improvement you are looking for, schedule a free phone consult with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy to help you with your next step to getting pain under control and getting back to your best life.  We work with people like you every day get back to high functioning activity without pain.