If you’ve been experiencing recent pain in your shoulder from basic, regular movements, you may have a problem to address. Shoulder impingement is when your bone is directly impacting onto your tendons or bursa, resulting in reduced mobility and consistent pain. It’s a fairly common issue to be dealt with, especially if you’re frequently involved in activities that require frequent overhead movement.

Shoulder impingement leads to inflammation, pain, and constant discomfort due to the unhealthy interaction of bone and tendons. It’s fairly easy to identify, due to the everpresent inconvenience they’ll afford. The pain that shoulder impingement introduces will be located in your shoulders, but will primarily be triggered by any overhead movement. You’ll also experience weakened muscles due to damage, as well as restrictions in your rotator control.

How Can I Fix My Shoulder Impingement?

Thankfully, shoulder impingement is far from a debilitating injury you could encounter. It’s painful, yes, but treatable on your own time with diligence and focus. If you begin experiencing the symptoms of shoulder impingement, you may want to consult with your doctor first to be certain of the pain’s cause. If so, there are exercises available to help reduce pain and improve muscle functionality.

Within time, with habitual use, you should be able to correct your injury on your own. Aside from consistent exercise, anti-inflammatory medicine will help alleviate the pain and discomfort you’ll experience. Ibuprofen and aspirin are good contenders for medication, and will be taken for around six to eight weeks to be fully effective.

Exercises to Fix Your Shoulder Impingement

back of a man

There are numerous practices that contribute to the overall repair of your shoulder. Shoulder impingement exercises are meant to correct the faults that are presently plaguing you in a rehabilitory, natural method. You shouldn’t expect overnight recovery, but a prolonged time frame of consistent, diligent practice.

However, before you attempt any exercises, may sure you do basic warm-up stretches first. Priming your muscles for exercise ensures you don’t cause any further damage.

Resistance Band Exercises

Man pulling a rope

Resistance bands are a popular, cheap exercise tool used for reasons beyond rehabilitation. They’re versatile materials that provide progressively consistent resistance that’s ideal for multi-muscle building. Being a tool that’s easily stored, transported, and used in a variety of scenarios, they make a perfect complement to your shoulder impingement exercises.

There are a variety of different sets you can do with a resistance band to help improve your muscle structure. You’ll need to start off with the resistance band tied off to a secure object. Grab the other end and you’re ready to start.

  • 45 degree shoulder extension: Facing the tied off point, extend your arm out in front of you at a 45 degree angle. From this position, retract your arm toward your body without bending the elbow. Once your arm is parallel with your leg, return to the starting position and repeat.
  • Shoulder Flexion: Similar to the shoulder extension, you’ll instead be starting out with your arm at your side, with your elbow cocked at 90 degrees. From here you’ll lift your arm and extend your elbow until your arm is straight.  Go no higher than 60 degrees. Slowly return to the initial position and repeat.
  • External shoulder rotation: Start off facing away from the tied off point, so the resistance band is coming across your body. Hold the end of it at around the center of your torso, where your sternum ends. Your elbow should be cocked at a 90 degree angle, with your arm at a 45 degree internal rotation. From here, extend your arm outward, using your elbow as a pivot point. Repeat the exercise.
  • Internal shoulder rotation: This is the same exercise as the external shoulder rotation, except your arm starts at a 45 degree external rotation away from your body. This time, instead of extending away from the center of your mass, you’ll be pulling inward.

These are some great resistance band exercises to get you started, but there are plenty more that you can look into to help flesh out your repertoire.

Foam Roller Exercises

Man and woman doing roller exercises  - shoulder impingement exercises

Foam rollers are excellent pieces of equipment to help smooth out and compress your muscles.  They increase blood flow, encourage tissue repair, and initiate pain relief. Widely used as post-workout auxiliary tools, they can provide focused attention to your shoulders for shoulder impingement exercises.

  • Thoracic extensions: Start off with your foam roller behind the area where the shoulder impingement is most focused. Lay down with your knees bent and hands behind your head for support. From here, slowly extend your thoracic spine over the foam roller without bending your lower back. Once you hit as far as you can go, hold for a few seconds, then return to the original position and repeat.
  • Beach pose: As the name implies, you’ll want to lie on your side, with the foam roller beneath your rib cage. Your arm should be extended along the ground, giving the foam roller room to move. From here, slowly roll your body down until the foam roller hits your rotator cuff. Hold for a few seconds, then return to the original position. From here, all you need to do is repeat.
  • Hugging: Lay down on your foam roller so that its vertically along your spine across the whole of your back. From here, begin with your arms straight up, perpendicular to your body. Slowly lower them to the floor, so that you’ll be in a T-pose. If you’re not able to go all the way, that’s perfectly all right. Once you’ve gone as far as you can, begin retracting your arms in a hug-like fashion. Continue retracting your arms, keeping them in a slightly curved form, until you’re hugging your own chest.

As with the resistance band, these are only a few options a foam roller can afford you for shoulder impingement exercises.

shoulder impingement exercises - Wall Slides

woman on white surface - shoulder impingement exercises

All you need for this is a good, sturdy wall to use as balance. Unlike with the previous exercises, you aren’t required to use anything special to get the most out of this. However, you can use a foam roller to help improve the quality of this exercise.

Start off with your arm against the wall, with the elbow bent 90 degrees. Make sure your leg on the side of the arm you’re using is behind you, keeping your stance secure. From here, all you’ll need to do is slide your arm up the wall, leaning forward as you do. Keep it slow and steady, and continue until you’ve fully extended your arm. Once you’ve reached as far as you can go, return to the original position and repeat.

If you aren’t able to extend your arm all the way, that’s okay. Since this exercise is pretty heavily focused in overhead motion, there’s a good chance your shoulder impingement will act up. But that’s what we’re looking for. Don’t push yourself too far, but the more you do this exercise, the more range of motion you’ll regain.

Lacrosse Ball Exercises

Man lying on yoga mat - shoulder impingement exercises

Sometimes you’ll need a little bit for centered pressure to address the pain you’re experiencing. While you can use any similar sized round object, a lacrosse ball is an excellent choice for helping with this next exercise. Essentially, one of the reasons shoulder impingement hurts is due to a distressed nature between your scapula and the rest of your torso. The lacrosse ball helps address that.

For this exercise, you’ll need to place the ball between your spine and scapula. Keep it centered and keep your weight on the ball as you lie down on it. From this position, extend your arms above you, thumbs pointing toward your body. The rest of this exercise involves slowly raising your arm above your head as far as it will go. Though your intention is to touch the floor, you only need to extend as far as your arm will let you.

Continue this exercise, slowly raising and returning your arm to its original place, and repeat for a few sets. Don’t rush through it, and make sure that the ball is holding your weight and staying in position.

Basic Stretches

woman doing yoga exercise

If you aren’t in a place where you can easily access any of these helpful objects, then just keeping a steady stretch routine is the best thing to do. Treat it like you’re warming up for a game, with all of your focus being on your arms and shoulders.

This will primarily involve most of the following stretches.

  • Cross-arm stretches
  • Behind the head stretches
  • Blade squeezes
  • Arm rotations
  • Shoulder rotations

These are going to be the exercises that pay the most attention to the areas you need attended to. These are great warm-ups for any of the other exercises you may be preparing to do.

Don’t Overwork Yourself

Before you take any of this course load on yourself, you should consult with a physical therapist first. These are good methods to help you get on your way to full rehabilitation, but a physical therapist is trained in this profession. They’ll know every method and will have a full cohesive list of shoulder impingement exercises ready to get you on the right track to full health.

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