5 amazingly effective exercises for shoulder impingement syndrome - Be My Healer
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5 amazingly effective exercises for shoulder impingement syndrome

By Sophie Xie / October 17, 2016
shoulder impingement exercises
Have you tried exercises for your impinged shoulder? 

According to studies (2007, 2000), proper shoulder and postural exercises can help improve pain from shoulder impingement syndrome by about 50% in 8 to 12 weeks.

In this post, I am going to share with you my favorite exercise routine for shoulder impingement pain with the elastic bands.

Equipment: Elastic bands

The best way to exercise for shoulders is with some elastic bands.

These bands enable you to perform all the exercises in one setting with super simple set up. No need to lie down. No need to go to the gym. No need to carry weights around.

I highly recommend these bands to those preferring to do their exercises in office during lunch breaks, or in the evening while watching your favorite TV shows.​

While there are lots of options for colorful elastic tubings with handles on the end, my personal choices would be the traditional therabands for three reasons.

Reason number 1: Elastic bands are much lighter than the tubings, weighing next to nothing. You can fold then like a piece of clothing and carry them everywhere.

Reason number two: You can adjust the length of the band or set up the exercise station easily. The tubings are less flexible and the large handles get in the way a lot.

Reason number three: ​They are cheaper. For the price of one tubing, you can get three elastic bands with progressive resistance, 1.5 yards in length each.

Exercise tubings are great for high-intensity body and athletic trainers to use for toning. However, elastic bands such as the original Therabands are more appropriate for those individuals with painful conditions to perform gentle, resisted exercises.

Normally, the light color bands have lower resistance, such as yellow and red. Green and blue require more strength. Black bands have monstrous resistance and I have never used one in my treatment ever.

The recommended colors to have ​are yellow, red and green.

Start all exercises with the yellow band first. If you can run through all exercises and repetitions with a yellow band with minimum effort, you can progress to the red, then the green.

Warning: Make sure you are exercising with a good quality band. Some elastic band deteriorates in elasticity after being left in a closet for years. ​They may snap in half when stretched during exercise. 

Exercise 1: Shoulder rows

Row, row, row the boat...

This is a great exercise for upper back muscles to stabilize the shoulder blades.

shoulder rows with bands

Image via hep2go.com

  • Anchor your Theraband to something sturdy like door knob on the other side of the closed door, at chest height. Other sturdy furniture or wall fixings works great os well.
  • Hold on to each end facing the anchor point. For an easy grip, wrap the end of the bands around your palms several times.
  • Pull the bands by bringing your elbows straight back and pinching your shoulder blades together towards the spine
  • Avoid shrugging your shoulders and keeping your elbows always close to your trunk.
  • Slowing return to the starting position and repeat the exercise 10-15 times

Exercise 2: Shoulder external rotation

This is a basic exercise for shoulder external rotation, strengthening muscles such as the infraspinatus muscle, Teres minor muscle, and part of the deltoid.

External rotation is a very important motion to strength in order to improve shoulder pains because these muscles reverse bad shoulder posture.

shoulder external rotation with bands

Image via hep2go.com

  • Anchor your band to a door or sturdy furniture at elbow height(if you have not done so).
  • Standing with your arm away from the band at 90 degrees by your side, using a towel to keep your arm at your side.
  • Grasp a theraband, pull your shoulder blades back, then proceed to rotate just the forearm out to the side ASAP in your pain-free zone.
  • Then slowly ease back to the starting position, nice and controlled.
  • Repeat the exercise 10-15 times.

Exercise 3: Shoulder internal rotation

This shoulder internal rotation exercise targets muscles like the subscapularis muscle and the anterior deltoid.

shoulder internal rotation exercise with bands

image via hep2go.com

  • Anchor your band to a door or sturdy furniture at elbow height(if you have not done so).
  • Start with your arm close to the band at your side, and your elbow bent at a 90-degree angle, using a towel roll to keep your arm at your side.
  • Hold the end of the band and slowly rotate your forearm across your body towards your trunk. 
  • Then slowly ease back to the starting position, niced and controlled.
  • Repeat the exercise 10-15 times.

Exercise 4: Shoulder punch

This shoulder punch exercise is designed to strengthen one crucial muscle, the serratus anterior muscle. Strong serratus anterior muscles help anchor the shoulder blades to the rib cage, providing stable platform for all shoulder movements.

shoulder serratus punch with band

Image via hep2go.com

  • Anchor your theraband at chest to shoulder height
  • Stand back to the anchor, arms raised 90 degrees in front with elbows straightened and locked out. Hold on to the ends of the bands in each hand.
  • Move, or bunch, you entire arms forward by thrusting your shoulder forward against the band resistance.
  • Then relax shoulders back to starting position without putting the arms down. This is a small movement exercise. Your entire arm may move forward about 2-3 inches.
  • Repeat exercise 10-15 times

Exercise 5: Shoulder extension

This resisted shoulder extension exercise work out the latissimus dorsi muscles and the teres major muscles. These muscles keep the shoulder joint down in its proper place, preventing impingement.

shoulder extension with band

Image via hep2go.com

  • ​Anchor the band on doors or sturdy furniture at shoulder height or higher
  • Standing with feet shoulder width apart and  stomach drawn in. Start holding theraband in both hands, arms strengthened out in front of you.
  • Squeeze shoulder blades down and back then pull your hands to your sides keeping your arms straight.​
  • Slowly return to starting position. Repeat exercise 10 -15 times.

Other important things

If you are really excited about getting your shoulder impingement to improve fast, you should add in some neck and shoulder stretching as well.

Read more about neck stretching by clicking here.

None of above exercise should cause you any pain to perform. If you do experience pain with any of above exercises, I recommend that you stop for the day. You may try the same exercise again the next day with less resistance, intensity or magnitude of movement. In short, take it easy.

If you still have pain then, you should stop this exercise completely. Feel free to leave me a comment so that I can help you to troubleshoot your exercise routine.

If your shoulder pain is severe and not improving at all with exercises after 6-8 weeks, you should see a doctor or a physical therapist for professional care.​

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.

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