Ease Shoulder Pain In 7 Minutes A Day

Article by Lucas Rockwood


If you have shoulder pain from a rotator cuff injury, subacromial impingement syndrome, a tear, frozen shoulder, or maybe just creaky, crunchy shoulders and you’d like to fix it, you’ve come to the right place.

Your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in your entire body. It can abduct and adduct (where your arms close and open out to the sides). It can medially rotate inwards and laterally rotate outwards. You can also flex and extend your shoulder joint to raise your arms above your head and even hyperextend it.

However, while your shoulders are capable of all these things, it’s unlikely that you make full use of their extended range of motion. Modern lifestyles mean that our shoulders spend a lot of time in the same position – at a computer, driving, chopping vegetables for dinner. As a result, the soft tissues in this area become neglected and more prone to injury.

Let’s take a look at the anatomy of the shoulder to understand why this area can be so problematic.



Glenohumeral Joint

This is where your humerus (your arm bone) meets your scapula (your shoulder blade). It’s a ball and socket joint, but very shallow, which creates a large range of motion. The stability in this joint is determined by the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support it.



Supraspinatus

This muscle may be small, but it’s one of the more problematic muscles in the shoulder and the most likely to get injured. Lift your arm out at your sides to engage it (abduction). The muscle passes under the coracoacromial arch (ligament roof of the shoulder). This ligament is often collapsed and atrophied from lack of shoulder flexion in daily life, which can cause it to impinge on the muscle.



Infraspinatus

Situated at the back of your shoulder, this muscle is important for lateral rotation (it contracts to open your shoulder outwards). Lift your arm and wind up and back like you’re about to throw a baseball. Your infraspinatus is the big mover here.



Subscapularis

This is the biggest and strongest of your shoulder muscles and tends to create the least amount of problems. This is the only muscle of the shoulder cuff that rotates the shoulder joint medially (towards your heart).



Teres Minor Muscle

This is the smallest of your rotator cuff muscles. It helps the other lateral rotators and stabilizers.


How do shoulder injuries occur?

Sudden hyperextension movements, a game of tennis when you haven’t played for a while or embarking on a new workout routine where your shoulder joint is suddenly moving in directions that it isn’t used to, can all put pressure on the connective muscles and tissues that support it. This can cause pain and impede on your quality of life.


What happens if I injure my shoulder?

People often turn to anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen or even cortisone shots to help manage chronic shoulder problems. Unfortunately, these options rarely work long-term. The good news is that for non-serious injuries (be sure to always check with a medical provider first) you can take the healing process into your own hands by investing in self-care through exercise.


7-Minutes Shoulder Exercise Routine

This seven-minute routine will help you show some love to your shoulders in three ways. The exercises work to very gently build strength in the four key rotator cuff muscles that stabilize your shoulder joint. They will encourage you to fully articulate your joint, helping to lubricate it. They will also help to create more space at the top of this joint by applying a little stress to re-establish the arch of the ligament at the top.

Passive Hang

  • Using a belt, yoga strap, robe belt – whatever you have – hook it over the corner of an open door and then slam the door shut
  • With your back to the strap, wrist wrapped around it, and feet hip-width apart, squat down until your shoulder is in full flexion and hang there for 30 seconds.
  • Use your legs to reduce the pressure as much as you need to. A little discomfort in your shoulder is OK, but you shouldn’t feel pain.
  • If hanging from the strap or full flexion are impossible, stand next to a set of shelves and simply place your hands at a level that you can bear.

Is, Ys & Ts

  • Holding a couple of yoga blocks or soup cans weighing no more than 200g, stand with feet hip-width apart, the outer edges of your feet parallel, shoulders over your hips and your torso braced.
  • Palms facing each other, inhale and take your arms up above your head, then exhale as you bring them back down. This is an I. Repeat 10 times.
  • For Ys, look down at your hands and make a V shape out from your body.
  • Palms facing in at 45 degrees, inhale as you raise your arms up into a Y position, exhale as you bring them back down. Repeat 10 times.
  • For Ts, your palms face down towards your sides.
  • Inhale as you lift your arms out to 90 degrees, exhale as you lower them back down. Repeat 10 times.
  • If you feel any pain start off light and if take your arms to a point where you feel no more than 5 out 10 intensity in your shoulder and absolutely no sharp shooting pain.

Butterflies

  • Stand with your arms extended out in front of you at 90 degrees.
  • Inhale and open your arms out to the sides.
  • Exhale and bring your arms back together again. Repeat 10 times.
  • If 90 degrees feels too much, lower your arms to 30 degrees – wherever you can work from.
  • Repeat this whole routine four times in total – 30 second passive hold, 10, 10, 10, 10, repeat. It should take around seven minutes.

Shoulder Exercises & Pain

These exercises assume that you have pain and maybe even an injury. So they are very gentle and accessible. Within a couple of weeks or months it’s very likely that you will graduate from these and move on to something a little stronger. But when you have joint pain, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and start off simple.

If you’d like to learn more about the shoulder joint, I’d recommend Dr John Kirsch’s work on shoulder pain, and Wolff’s Law, to discover more about changing the hard and soft structures of your shoulders.


Want to Learn More?