Exercises for shoulder problems

These exercises can help to get you moving normally, and safely, if you've a muscle or joint problem affecting your shoulder.

These video shows the whole movement so don't worry if you can't do it all.

How many and how often

Start by doing 5 repetitions of each exercise, 3 times a day. Add an extra 1 or 2 repetitions every few days as long as you feel comfortable.

When to stop

Stop these exercises if they make your symptoms worse, or cause new pain.

If your symptoms don't improve after 2 weeks, phone the Musculoskeletal (MSK) Helpline (only available in some health board regions).

If this service isn't available in your area, speak to your GP to find out if you can refer yourself to a local MSK service.

Arm circles (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPRbgv51fLU)

You should do this exercise while standing.

With a table or chair next to you for support:

  1. Lean forward so that your sore arm hangs straight down
  2. Place your other hand on the table or chair for support
  3. Slowly rotate your sore arm clockwise as if drawing a circle with your hand and occasionally change direction
  4. Gradually increase the size of the circle

Rotating your arm clockwise and anti-clockwise is one repetition.

Arm swings: Forward and back (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I41-8hRayRU)

You should do this exercise while standing.

With a table or chair next to you for support:

  1. Lean forward so that your sore arm hangs straight down
  2. Place your other hand on  the table or chair for support
  3. Slowly swing your sore arm backwards and forwards and gradually increase the length of the swing

Swinging your arm from front to back is one repetition.

Arm swings: Side to side (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOzRdZvejaw)

You should do this exercise while standing.

With a table or chair next to you for support:

  1. Lean forward so that your sore arm hangs straight down
  2. Place your other hand on  the table or chair for support
  3. Slowly swing your sore arm from left to right and gradually increase the length of the swing

Swinging your arm from left to right is one repetition.

Clasped arm raise (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyqy9gBzgqI)

You can do this exercise while sitting, standing or lying on you back.

With your hands clasped in front of your stomach:

  1. Slowly raise your hands above your head or as far as comfortable, keeping your arms extended throughout
  2. Hold for 2 seconds then lower them to where you started

Raising and lowering your arm is one repetition.

Seated forearm turn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc3eXAuRZxg)

You can also do this exercise while sitting, standing or lying on you back.

With your arms relaxed by your side:

  1. Bend your elbows so that your hands are out in front of you and facing in
  2. Turn your forearms outwards as far as is comfortable
  3. Return your hands to center

Rotating your forearm outwards and back is one repetition.