When dealing with arthritis in your shoulder, exercises are a great way to help manage some of the painful symptoms. Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can make it hard to enjoy your normal daily activities and poor shoulder function can degrade your quality of life. That’s why our physical therapists have put together this exercise program with ways to stretch and strengthen the shoulder joints and keep shoulder arthritis pain at bay.
Whether you’re dealing with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, a well-rounded program will include stretches, strengthening exercises, and moves that promote full body coordination. The benefits of exercises for shoulder arthritis include:
Your home exercise program should include a mix of range of motion and strengthening exercises.
Range of motion exercises should always begin with good upper body posture to minimize strain to the neck and shoulder joint. Keep your shoulders pulled back and chin tucked to avoid slouching. Always stay in tune with how you’re feeling and don’t force anything that feels off or painful.
A shoulder pulley is a way to comfortably stretch and increase both the shoulder joint and rotator cuff range of motion.
Repeat for 10 repetitions for 2-3 sets. You can move the arm straight up overhead, out to the side, or some other combination in the middle of these with the pulley. If you don’t have a pulley you can also try standing pendulum swings, use a cane, or even a yoga ball to do guided range of motion as well.
Being able to internally rotate your arm is important for daily tasks like reaching behind your back. For this stretch you’ll need a stretch strap or towel.
Hold for 20-30 seconds for 3-5 repetitions. Do not let the shoulder shift forward or your neck tense up as you stretch.
This exercise and stretch is great for the shoulder and upper back since they both tend to be stiff in unison.
Alternate between all 3 moves 10 times for 2-3 sets total. You should notice an increase in mobility with each set. When finished, if you notice any particular stiffness in your mid back you can turn the foam roller horizontally and roll out the upper back as well.
The focus with shoulder strengthening will be on the rotator cuff muscles and shoulder blades (scapula) for optimizing stability and biomechanics to decrease the potential for further wear. These are basic moves but do require tolerance for some range of motion. If you’re having a hard time tolerating them, start with isometric moves (where you push against resistance without actually moving the arm), a smaller range of motion, or lighter resistance. With time, you may be able to progress to further range and more dynamic moves.
You can do this exercise with or without resistance depending on your needs.
Hold for 3-5 seconds each time for 10 repetitions total. Repeat for 2-3 sets. Additionally, you can complete double arm external rotation while squeezing your shoulder blades in the exact same set up. Simply switch your hand position to palms facing up and keep your elbows tucked into your sides as you pull the hands away from each other.
Grab your band again, it’s always best to start with light resistance for this one since you will be attempting to move your arm overhead. This is great to complete after stretching to maximize your tolerated range and strength within that range.
Repeat for 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets total one each arm. Keep the movement slow and controlled in both directions. Also, keep the neck relaxed and do not force any painful range of motion.
Check out this video to see physical therapist, Dr. David Lee perform this exercise on the floor.
This targets all of the shoulder muscles at once; however with shoulder arthritis, we recommend performing this first against a wall rather than the floor.
Hold for 30+ seconds for 2-3 sets.
You should perform these exercises most days. As a general rule of thumb, always stretch when your shoulder starts to feel stiff (which is probably daily) and maintain your strength with a consistent program at least 3 times per week. Ultimately, what works for you will depend on your goals and symptoms.
Yes, it is safe to lift weights with shoulder arthritis. The strength exercises listed above could easily be modified and upgraded to the use of dumbbells. However, with shoulder arthritis, it is generally better to:
Yoga is a very functional way to build shoulder strength and flexibility simultaneously and is generally safe (and recommended) for those with osteoarthritis pain in the shoulder. However, some movements may be uncomfortable and not appropriate for your condition. We recommend working with a certified yoga teacher or your physical therapist to learn which positions can benefit you the most.
When starting an exercise program, here are some general precautions and tips to keep in mind to maximize your outcomes.
With shoulder arthritis, avoid exercises that include any overhead reaching with your thumbs pointing down. Plus, never force any stiff range of motion without physical therapy guidance, as this can stretch the wrong areas and reinforce bad movement patterns. Ultimately, there isn’t too much you need to avoid as long as you tune into your symptoms.
A shoulder arthritis diagnosis can feel devastating since there is technically no cure. Luckily, conservative treatment and regular exercise can have great long term results for maximizing your shoulder function and life. If you can keep your shoulder well balanced with adequate strength, flexibility, and coordination, you will notice fewer hiccups in your daily routine. If you experience a sudden change in symptoms or your quality of life is decreasing, get in touch with your doctor or physical therapist immediately for further medical advice.
https://creakyjoints.org/diet-exercise/exercises-arthritis-shoulder-pain/#:~:text=Precautions%20Before%20Exercising%20with%20Shoulder%20Arthritis&text=Push%20too%20hard%20too%20fast,your%20workout%20as%20you%20progress.&text=Always%20warm%20up%20or%20stretch,it%20again%20at%20the%20endShoulder Arthritis Products