Shoulder impingement syndrome is a condition characterized by pain and loss of motion in the shoulder. The overuse of the rotator cuff muscles and tendons causes the condition. These muscles and tendons attach the shoulder blade to the upper arm bone. The overuse can be due to repetitive activities such as pitching in baseball or painting a ceiling or from weightlifting exercises that involve raising your arms overhead. Fortunately, there are a few exercises that can help to reduce the pain and improve mobility in the shoulder.
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What is Shoulder Impingement Syndrome?
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is a painful condition caused by activities that involve repetitive overhead reaching and actions. Commonly known as “swimmer’s shoulder” or “thrower’s shoulder,” Shoulder Impingement Syndrome occurs when the rotator cuff tendons become pinched beneath the top of the shoulder blade, resulting in inflammation and pain. This condition can be caused by overuse of the shoulder during sports, such as baseball and swimming, or certain occupations requiring frequent overhead movement.
Diagnosis of Shoulder Impingement Syndrome is typically made with an X-ray to get an image of the bones in the region and to rule out other causes of pain in the same area. Treatment may include physical therapy, rest, ice/heat therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct underlying pathology or anatomical issues that cause impingement.
How Long Does a Shoulder Impingement Take to Heal?
Recovering from shoulder impingement can vary significantly depending on a range of factors, such as the severity of the case and how closely you adhere to instructed treatment plans. However, the soreness associated with shoulder impingement should start to subside soon after you begin treatment.
In most cases, symptom relief begins within 72 hours, and full recovery may take up to 6 weeks. If the symptoms do not improve with standard treatments or if your condition does not seem to be getting better, it is advised that you consult a specialist for further evaluation. With careful attention to diagnosed treatment plans, it is possible for patients suffering from shoulder impingement to make a swift and full recovery back to their pre-injury state.
7 of The Best Shoulder Impingement Exercises
Now that you are informed about Shoulder Impingement Syndrome let’s look at some of the best exercises for shoulder impingement relief.
Relieving shoulder impingement can be done with Scapula Squeeze exercises. The movement of these exercises involves squeezing the shoulder blades together while maintaining a neutral spine position.
- To begin, start by standing or sitting tall with your back straight, and make sure your shoulders are not raised around your ears.
- Next, raise your arms out in front of you and squeeze the shoulder blades together. When squeezing, you should feel a muscular contraction in the mid-back area.
- Hold for a few seconds, and then release.
This exercise can be done multiple times to increase the strength of those muscles that support proper posture and spinal alignment, which can help reduce shoulder impingement significantly over time.
Scapula Push and Pull
The scapula push and pull exercise can be a simple and effective way to relieve shoulder impingement. This low-impact movement involves pushing and pulling against resistance while maintaining proper form to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint. Therefore, starting lightly and gradually increasing the resistance is crucial as you become more comfortable with the movement.
- To perform the exercise, stand upright, facing a high pulley station using a rope handle attachment.
- Position your body at an angle of 45 degrees and perform alternating rounds of pushing forward, squeezing your shoulder blades together, followed by pulling back with a slight arch in your back.
- While doing so, ensure that the elbows remain relaxed throughout to prevent unnecessary pressure on your joints.
As you get used to the movement and increase the intensity, you should experience increased mobility, strength, and flexibility in your shoulders over time.
The chest stretch exercise is a simple yet effective remedy to help relieve shoulder impingement.
To perform the exercise, stand upright with your feet slightly apart and your arms stretched out in front of you, forming a ‘T’ shape.
- Grasp both arms at the elbows and pull them towards the chest while keeping your back straight. You should feel a gentle but firm stretch across the front of the chest under both armpits.
- Hold this position for fifteen to twenty seconds while taking deep breaths before releasing and returning to the starting position.
Doing this exercise several times daily can help reduce pain from shoulder impingement by loosening tight muscles and easing pressure on nerves that may be causing pain.
Front Shoulder Stretch
The Front Shoulder Stretch is a great way to relieve shoulder impingement and improve flexibility.
- To do the stretch, start standing upright, then cross one arm over your chest while you bend your elbow at a 90° angle.
- The other arm should be used to grasp onto the bent elbow.
- Gently pull your elbow towards your chest and hold this position for 20-30 seconds.
- You can switch arms and repeat if desired. It is important to keep your torso upright during the stretch and focus on maintaining good posture throughout the exercise.
Doing the Front Shoulder Stretch regularly can help to reduce stiffness and soreness in the shoulders caused by impingement, giving you improved mobility for daily activities.
Back Shoulder Stretch
The Back Shoulder Stretch is an effective exercise to relieve shoulder impingement.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle.
- Bring your arms up with your palms facing the ground and bend from the waist to let the palms touch behind the back.
- Hold for fifteen to thirty seconds before returning to a standing position.
You will then experience increased flexibility and improved range of motion in the shoulders. Don’t forget to breathe throughout the exercise, as it will help boost oxygen levels for better muscle performance. Be sure to consult a physician before beginning any new fitness routine if you have any existing injuries or health conditions that may be affected by these exercises.
Lying External Rotation
The Lying External Rotation exercise is an excellent way to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint and relieve shoulder impingement.
- To perform the exercise, lie on your side, with one arm bent at a 90° angle against your chest, and keep your elbow close to your body.
- Take hold of a light dumbbell with your free hand and slowly rotate your arm outward in an arc motion until it is parallel to the floor.
- Pause for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
- Repeat this movement for 10-15 repetitions, switch arms, and repeat on the other side. Regular exercise will help build strength in the shoulder muscles and reduce the discomfort of shoulder impingement.
Combining these exercises with regular stretches and gentle motion can decrease pain sensations from shoulder impingement and increase mobility in the affected area. As always, speak to a doctor or physical therapist before beginning any new exercise routine.
Internal Rotation with Resistance Band
Similar to the Lying External Rotation, Internal Rotation with a Resistance Band can help reduce the discomfort caused by shoulder impingement.
- To do this exercise, attach one end of a resistance band to an anchor point and hold the other in your affected hand.
- Keeping your elbow close to your body and bent at a 90-degree angle, slowly rotate your arm inward in an arc against the band’s resistance.
- Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat this movement for 10-15 repetitions, switch arms, and repeat on the other side.
- Regularly doing this exercise can help strengthen muscles around the shoulder joint and improve flexibility, ultimately relieving shoulder impingement.
Always ensure that you use the correct form when performing any exercise to avoid injury. Speak to a fitness professional if you have any questions or concerns regarding this or any other exercise.
Shoulder impingement can be uncomfortable and limit mobility, but it can relieve pain with simple exercises. The Front Shoulder Stretch, Back Shoulder Stretch, Lying External Rotation, and Internal Rotation with Resistance Band are all effective ways to reduce shoulder impingement discomfort.
Always remember to consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine. If you are unsure about the correct form for an exercise, it is best to speak to a qualified fitness professional. Regular exercise and stretching allow you to enjoy improved mobility and relief from shoulder impingement.