5 Best Exercises for a Shoulder Impingement

Do you feel pain when you lift your arm up over your head past shoulder height? What about when you reach your arms behind your back? If you just raised your arm up over head to test this, nice work. Shoulder impingement, or in sexy medical speak subacromial impingement, is one of the most common causes of shoulder pain, tears, and other shoulder issues that just suck. If fixing shoulder impingement forever is the reason you came to this blog, you’re in the right place.

Why You Need to Learn Proper Shoulder Alignment to Fix Shoulder Pain

Here’s the truth: your shoulder pain will never go away until you learn how to put it into proper alignment or positioning. You can try injections, shoulder surgery, or some other so-called “quick fix,” (as a former chiropractor Dr. Mike has seen it all) but you won’t see any real differences until you put your shoulder into proper position to heal.

Most peoples’ shoulder blades are in an improper position before, during, and after a movement (such as lifting your arm up). Typically, their shoulder blades are rolled forward and shrugged up due to poor posture, which causes an impingement and pain. If this isn’t corrected, it can cause a tear, more pain, and other issues that we would really like for you to avoid entirely.

Why Is the Shoulder Such a Common Place to Injure?

The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which means it has a lot of flexibility. This allows your shoulder to have a wide range of motion, but can also make it susceptible to more injuries if you don’t know how to align, to strengthen your rotator cuff muscles and to improve your upper back mobility. Causes of shoulder impingement vary and include anything from overuse to a sport injury.

The MoveU-Approved Shoulder Exercises to Get Rid of Shoulder Impingement for Good

Scapula Scoop

This exercise helps strengthen your serratus anterior and lower trapezius. It’s especially helpful for people with winged scapula. If your shoulder blades are winging out, that means your shoulders are not in a stable position, which puts you more at risk for shoulder injuries, shoulder impingement, and labral tears.

Here’s how to do the scapula scoop:

  • Lift your arms up over your head while drawing your shoulder blades down.

  • Draw your arms out into a “T” position while scooping your shoulder blades down.

  • Bring your elbows down towards your hips while rotating your armpits up towards the ceiling and keeping your shoulders down (notice a theme here?).

Be sure to check out our instructional video on how to scapula scoop for some additional support for you visual learners out there.

Scapula Scoop

The Doorway Pec Stretch

Tight chest muscles can pull your shoulder joint forward causing a shoulder impingement. Stretching out your chest muscles reduces the tension on your shoulder and encourages them into better alignment. Here’s how to do the doorway pec stretch:

  • Find a suitable open doorway.

  • Lift your arm up at a right angle while resting your forearm on the door frame.

  • Lean into the doorway with your upper body.

  • Feel a stretch in your pectoral muscles.

Wall Angel (or “V” to “W” stretch)

Not only does this exercise have a cool name, it’s also one of the best scapular mobility exercises out there to increase upper body strength and reduce shoulder pain. We love how it helps improve your posture and serves as an excellent warm-up exercise to improve thoracic spine mobility (we’re looking at you all who like to squat and overhead press). Here’s how to do the wall angel: 

  • Stand with your back against a wall. Press your butt, upper back, shoulders, and head into the wall.

  • Stretch your arms straight up over your head.

  • Activate your mid-back muscles while sliding your arms down the wall.

  • Pause once your elbows are just below your shoulders and then bring your arms back to the starting position.

  • Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.

Shoulder Impingement Exercise

Thoracic Rotation

Improving your thoracic rotation is crucial if you’re an athlete or enjoying moving your upper body in a healthy way. This is a great exercise for baseball players, golf players, and tennis players, as it helps isolate the movement in your upper back (so your shoulder doesn’t do all the work when you’re rotating). Here’s how to do this one:

  • Get down on your hands and knees in a tabletop position.

  • Bring your butt back to your heels and drop your left elbow down onto the ground.

  • Take your right hand and bring it to the back of your head.

  • Lift your right elbow up towards the ceiling and then down to the floor.

Superman or Floor Cobra Pose

Here’s a great exercise to strengthen your middle and lower trapezius muscles, which happens to help you improve your posture. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do the superman or floor cobra pose: 

  • Lie down on the floor with your arms next to your sides, palms face down.

  • Slowly lift your head, chest, thighs, and feet up while gazing down.

  • Draw your belly away from the floor and keep your pelvis pressed into the ground.

  • Hold for 2-5 seconds and then release.

  • Repeat 3-10 times.

  • Next Steps: Join the MoveU Membership and begin the Shoulder Program!

Fixing a shoulder impingement takes time, patience, and the right support. Are you ready to take healing into your own hands? Check out the MoveU shoulder program today.

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