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Two Simple Exercises to Eliminate Shoulder Pain at Home

Updated on January 22, 2014

What really causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain is a very common ailment in the general population. A number of contributing factors can lead to shoulder pain. You may have suffered a specific injury to the shoulder such as a torn rotator cuff or torn cartilage. Or, more commonly, your shoulder just hurts and you can't really pinpoint an exact reason why. Arthritis could be a factor if you're on the older side, but the underlying cause for shoulder pain and injury usually comes down to muscular imbalance. Imbalances can cause pain in any joint. Your bones do not move efficiently without proper muscular balance. Nagging pain, nerve impingement, and other problems can be the end result after years of improper movement patterns.

One common sign of muscular imbalance is rounded, slumped shoulders. Rounded shoulders are formed over a long period of time and can be caused by sitting with poor posture at a desk, ipad, phone, etc. "Sit up straight! Keep your shoulders back!" Yeah, you probably should have listened to Grandma after all. Thankfully, rounded shoulders and pain can be alleviated by simply training the weak areas that are causing the muscular imbalance. The following exercises will not only help eliminate pain but can also help prevent future injuries to the shoulder by developing more strength and stability in the joint. Perform these exercises 2-3 times per week. Don't let up if the pain goes away after only a few sessions. You need to keep training so the problem does not return.

Starting position

Elbow on hip, soup can 1-2 inches from the floor
Elbow on hip, soup can 1-2 inches from the floor

Ending position

Elbow still on hip, forearm past parallel to the floor
Elbow still on hip, forearm past parallel to the floor

Exercise #1: External Rotations

For this exercise you will need only a place to lie down, and a small can of soup, sauce, vegetables... whatever you happen to have around. No investment needed here other than a few minutes of your time. To perform the exercise, simply lie on your side, and rest your top elbow against your hip. Hold the can in your hand, and with your elbow still held against your hip as a pivot-point, rotate your arm back. Your forearm should be parallel to the ground or slightly higher at the top of the movement. Rotate your arm down until the soup can is just about an inch off the floor. This is one rep. Repeat for about 2-3 sets, 8-10 slow reps per side. It's recommended that you train both sides even if you only have issues with one shoulder. Muscular balance is key in preventing future injuries.

Note: You should be feeling a pleasant muscular burn in your shoulder throughout the range of motion. Sharp pain can be a cause for concern and a sign you should back off. Also keep in mind that the soup can may not provide enough resistance if you've already been weight-training for a while. You may need to use a heavier object or a dumbbell to provide the necessary stimulus for development. Elderly or weaker individuals may even want to start with something smaller, like a roll of quarters.

Arm straight, elbow locked, wrist directly under the can
Arm straight, elbow locked, wrist directly under the can

Exercise #2: Static Holds

This exercise can also be performed with nothing more than a can of soup. To perform this exercise, lie flat on your back with the soup can in your hand. Raise the can straight up and lock your arm at the elbow. Hold the can completely still for a count of twenty seconds. Do not allow your elbow to bend at all. You should be controlling the weight and keeping it steady using nothing but the muscles in your shoulder. Think of your arm as a table leg just supporting the tabletop (soup can) while your shoulder acts as the floor absorbing the weight. It may seem a little strange, but this kind of visualization will help you concentrate on keeping your arm straight and your soup can steady. Do 2-3 sets of static holds per side.

Elbow locked, arm forming a straight line with the shoulders
Elbow locked, arm forming a straight line with the shoulders

Advanced Exercise: Side Static Hold

You may feel like trying something a little more challenging after mastering the External Rotations and standard Static Hold. In this case you have a couple of options. You can increase the resistance by using a heavier object or dumbbell. You can also try the Side Static Hold. This version really makes your shoulder work since you no longer have the floor to help steady your arm. To perform the exercise, begin in the standard Static Hold position with the can raised. Slowly rotate onto your side. Keep the can raised as you roll over. You're in the correct position once your arm forms a straight line with your shoulders. Keep your arm locked and hold the can for a count of twenty seconds, ending the movement by rolling onto your back and bringing the can back to the floor. Do 2-3 sets per side. Eventually you can increase the duration or resistance to provide more of a challenge.

© 2014 practicalfitness

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