Seven exercises for shoulder arthritis

Arthritis is an umbrella term for a range of inflammatory conditions affecting the bones, muscles and joints. An estimated one in seven (3.5 million) Australians have arthritis. Staying active and doing certain exercises can help relieve pain, stiffness and swelling in affected joints.

Here are seven exercises that may ease soreness in the shoulder by stretching and strengthening the muscles around the joint.

Shoulder elevation stretch

This stretch should help to increase the range of motion in the shoulder joint. You should feel a gentle stretch in the shoulders, back, and chest as the arms move overhead.

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Hold a broom handle or walking stick with your both hands about shoulder-width apart.
  3. Place the handle or stick gently on the thighs.
  4. Keeping the arms as straight as possible, raise the handle or stick slowly. Reach your arms past the chest and over the head so that the backs of your hands are almost touching the floor above your head.
  5. Lower the handle or stick slowly back down to the thighs.
  6. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions once a day.

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Shoulder outward rotation stretch

This exercise improves the flexibility in the shoulder joints.

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Keeping the upper arms by your sides, bend your elbows and hold a broom handle or walking stick above the chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slowly move the pole to the left until you feel a stretch in the left shoulder.
  4. Return to the starting position.
  5. Repeat on the right side of the body.
  6. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions once a day.

Shoulder blade rotations

This rotation stretches the shoulders to promote an increased range of movement.

  1. Stand in a neutral position with your hands at your sides.
  2. Raise your shoulders towards your ears, holding for five seconds.
  3. Return to neutral position and gently squeeze the shoulder blades together, holding for five seconds.
  4. Then pull the shoulder blades down and hold for five seconds.
  5. Repeat 10 times.

Pendulum exercise

This exercise helps to relax the shoulder muscles while keeping them mobile.

  1. Bend forward at the hips and rest one hand or arm on a counter for support and balance.
  2. Allow the other arm to hang straight down towards the floor.
  3. Gently swing your knees and hips to move the hanging arm gently in a circular motion.
  4. Repeat this 30 times in each direction once a day.

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Door lean

This stretch feels great and can be as deep or as light as you need.

  1. Stand facing toward a doorway and raise both hands above your head.
  2. Place one hand on either side of the doorframe.
  3. Gently lean forward until you feel a comfortable tension in your shoulders.
  4. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds.
  5. Repeat three times once a day.

Door presses

This exercise can help to increase strength in the shoulder muscles.

  1. Stand in a doorway and bend one elbow into a right angle with the thumb on that hand pointing toward the ceiling.
  2. Press the back of your wrist into the doorframe.
  3. Hold for five seconds.
  4. Repeat with the palm of your hand, using the other side of the doorframe.
  5. Do three sets of 10 repetitions on each side.

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Exercise band stretch

This exercise will strengthen the postural muscles which will improve overall posture and allow the shoulders to move easier. It requires an exercise band, which are available to buy in any sporting goods store or homeware stores such as Kmart or Target.

  1. Loop the exercise band behind a solid, vertical object and hold one end in either hand.
  2. Stand straight with your shoulders back.
  3. Relax your shoulders and bend your elbows at your sides.
  4. Pull your elbows backward in a rowing motion while squeezing the shoulder blades together. If the exercise band does not provide any resistance, take a step back or loop the ends of the bands around your hands.
  5. Hold for five seconds.
  6. Perform three sets of 10 repetitions once a day.

Ensure your body and muscles are warmed up and ready to stretch before attempting any exercise. A brisk five-minute walk is a great warm-up activity.

You should feel a stretch in the shoulders when doing these exercises, but they should not be painful.

If a particular motion hurts, stop doing it right away. If the pain persists for several hours after the exercise, it may be necessary to see a doctor.

A physical therapist will be able to work with you to create an in-depth, tailored exercise plan and explain any specific types of exercise you should avoid.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Ellie Baxter

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