14.7% of primary care patients experience shoulder pain each year, with a lifetime prevalence of up to 70%. Shoulder pain is a common problem for anyone, but especially those who spend their days hunched over a desk or sitting behind a steering wheel. This position creates a tight chest, rounded upper back, sore shoulders, and overall poor posture. However, shoulder pain can also be caused by muscle tension, overuse and stress. It’s important fitness professionals recommend exercises and stretches to help clients stay healthy and ease shoulder pain. 

Shoulder dips

Shoulder dips are one of the best workouts for the upper body and reducing shoulder pain. They’re a functional exercise which helps train the muscles and joints to work safely and efficiently together. You can therefore help clients reduce their chances of injury due to targeting or recruiting incorrect muscles. To perform dips, set two chairs roughly 20 inches apart. Instruct your client to crouch down and place their hands with palms down on the two seats. Get them to extend and raise their legs so just their heels are touching the floor. Then have them lower themselves down to the floor by bending their arms. They should then push themselves back up to the starting position. You can make this exercise even more effective by using gymnastic wooden rings. Wooden rings strengthen muscles in the arms and core, and improve mobility and coordination. The rings are easily transportable, and you can hang them anywhere — whether that’s at home, in a hotel, at the gym, or in the park. 

Eagle arms 

Eagle arms is a simple yet effective exercise that stretches the shoulder muscles. Have your client sit upright in a comfortable chair and extend their arms outwards. They should then cross their right arm under their left arm. If it’s comfortable for them to do so, they can cross their wrists. Instruct them to relax and take deep breaths through their upper back. Hold for one minute. They can then uncross their arms and repeat on the other side. Practicing this stretch regularly will increase flexibility in the shoulders. It also reduces neck and shoulder tension that can often lead to headaches. 

Plank to side plank

Planks challenge and strengthen the stability of the shoulders, and can help heal labral tears. They also work the muscle on the side of the chest that stabilizes the shoulder blade. Have your client begin in a high-plank position with their arms fully extended and hands directly below their shoulders. Abs should be engaged. Then, instruct your client to move into a side plank — they should stack their feet and rotate their hips to one side so they’re parallel with the floor. Their upper arm should reach straight up into the air. Hold for a few seconds before slowly returning to high-plank position. Have your client repeat the side plank on the opposite side.  

Shoulder pain is a common problem, but it’s both treatable and preventable. Fitness professionals can help their clients maintain mobile, pain-free shoulders with these effective stretches and exercises.

Sally Perkins

Sally Perkins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.


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