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Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can persist whether you’re standing, sitting, or even sleeping. It can hinder your ability to enjoy exercise and impede your ability to exercise properly. The pain can be constant and even return with greater intensity when you least expect it. However, you can regain your pain-free life by harnessing the power of physical therapy for shoulder pain.

What is Physical Therapy?

Physical therapists are highly trained healthcare professionals who use a combination of manual therapy, exercises, and other modalities to help patients recover from injuries and conditions that affect their mobility and quality of life. They create individualized care plans for each patient based on their specific needs and goals, and they work with patients to help them achieve maximum mobility and functional ability.

Physical therapy is beneficial for people of all ages, from children to seniors. It can be helpful for anyone who is experiencing pain or mobility issues due to injury, disease, disorder, condition, aging, or environmental factors. Physical therapists can work with patients to prevent injuries, promote healthy movement patterns, treat existing conditions, and help patients rehabilitate after surgery or other medical procedures.

The promotion of physical activity and exercise is a key aspect of physical therapy. Physical therapists work with patients to develop exercise programs that are tailored to their specific needs and abilities, and that will help them improve their overall health and fitness. They also provide education on proper body mechanics, posture, and ergonomics to prevent future injuries and improve daily function.

Physical therapy is a valuable healthcare service that can help people of all ages and backgrounds to achieve their goals and live life to the fullest. With the help of a physical therapist, patients can regain their mobility, reduce pain, and improve their overall quality of life.

Causes of Shoulder Pain

There are many causes for pain in your shoulder. It can vary anywhere from an accident or fall to poor posture or overuse while painting. Sometimes the cause of shoulder pain can be classified as “referred pain” which means it is the result of an injury to another location in your body.

Common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • A pinched nerve in the neck or shoulder
  • Dislocation
  • Torn cartilage
  • Separation
  • Bursitis
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Injury due to overuse
  • Torn rotator cuff
  • Fracture
  • Heart attack


Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain – With Videos!

External Rotation

This exercise is great for strengthening the muscles around your shoulder and preventing further shoulder pain.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

Loop the resistance band around the opposite door handle to you, and close the door so the ends are out and on your side. Next, place a towel under either arm, as long as it’s opposite from the arm that is closest to the door. With your arm that is farthest from the door, grab the ends of your resistance band with your palms up, and open up the elbow.

Do not straighten out your elbow! Doing this turns into a triceps exercise.

Do not turn your body! This turns into something we call compensation, and we want to avoid that as much as possible.

As with any physical therapy exercise, you should not feel any pain. Fatigue is to be expected.

Internal Rotation

What you’ll do:

Stand with your back perpendicular to the door. With the hand closest to your stretchy band, grab your resistance band and pull it towards your belly button. Utilize the towel under this arm as well.

Do not involve your shoulder! This doesn’t help your exercise at all.

This is an integral part of our at-home physical therapy for shoulder pain videos, be sure to use this first exercise!

Flexion/Abduction/”No Moneys” Exercises

This exercise is great for strengthening the muscles around your shoulder and preventing further shoulder pain.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

Hold one dumbbell in each hand, utilizing a weight that is comfortable for you. With your arms straight and dumbbells perpendicular to the floor, move your arms up 90º. This is called a flexion exercise. Achieve 10 repetitions and up to two or three sets.

Do not elevate your shoulders! Remember, this is called compensation. We’re avoiding that.

Next, move your hands so they are parallel to the floor and move your arms out, instead of in front of you like the first exercise. This is called an abduction exercise. Achieve 10 repetitions and up to two or three sets.

Avoid going up past your shoulders.

Lastly, using your resistance band, hold each end of the stretchy band with your arms at a 90º angle. Pull each side away from each other for 10 repetitions.

Do not open your arms too wide as that becomes a triceps exercise.

Pec Stretch on Foam Roller

Often, we hunch while we’re on our phones, reading a book, or typing on our laptops. This stretch loosens up our front shoulder and ultimately helps movement occur naturally and pain-free.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

First, you’re going to lay along with the foam roller with your knees up and feet on the floor. Be sure to have a foam roller long enough that allows your head and pelvic area to both be supported. Let your arms open up to each side of you, palms up. You should immediately feel stretching in your front shoulder. If you are experiencing pain, lower your arms more towards your feet. If you aren’t feeling a stretch, move your arms farther up towards your head to feel a deeper stretch in your front shoulder. Remember, this should not be painful! Find a position that is comfortable for you.

If you begin to feel numbness or tingling in your hands or fingers, bring your arms in and place your hands on your bellybutton. That will eliminate any numbness or tingling. When that resolves, return your arms out and continue the stretch.

These are big muscles we’re stretching, so we recommend to remain stretching for up to 5 minutes.

To get off the foam roller, simply roll off to your left or right.

KT Taping for Shoulders

Mike dives into the benefits of KT tape for shoulder pain. This is a fantastic alternative to wearing a sling, because, who really wants that?

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

Move your arm to a 45-60º angle away from your body. Removing the protective layer of KT tape is similar to a band-aid. Remove one side of the protective layer and stick it onto your arm. Then, remove the rest of the protective layer. Do not stretch the KT tape at full tension but stretch at about half a tension, and lay it down as you go.

*VERY IMPORTANT* to keep in place and avoid skin irritation: the last part of the KT tape should have NO tension.

After relaxing your arm, you should feel the KT tape sucking your arm up a little bit, but you should not feel the ends pulling tightly.

Leave on for up to two or three days.

If you feel an itching irritation, remove the KT tape.

To remove, DO NOT rip off like a band-aid! Roll up an edge, and gently pull the tape off. Removing KT tape in the shower is recommended.

You can absolutely shower with the tape on (and we recommend it!).

KT Taping for Posture

This KT Taping technique reminds you to avoid hunching and gently pulls your shoulders back into the correct posture position.

What you’ll need:

What you’ll do:

Again, remove the protective layer of KT tape by removing one side and sticking it to the front of your shoulder and having the tape across your arm. Remove the second half of the protective layer and bring the KT tape at half tension all the way to your back, with no tension at the last bit of the tape.

Physical Therapy for Shoulder Pain

Shoulders are prone to injury. Simple shoulder exercises can help stretch and strengthen muscles and eliminate pain. We offer a Free Physical Therapy “Discovery” Session which is perfect for anyone who would like to learn how physical therapy can help them get back to the activities they love before committing to receive the extra benefits included in a full consultation. This is a great way to “test the waters” to see if Desert Edge Physical Therapy is the right fit for you!

published on Saturday, March 4th, 2023