4 Exercises for Shoulder Pain and Stiffness


Do you experience shoulder pain or stiffness?  In this blog post, we’ll explore four shoulder exercises that each have different benefits, including shoulder strength, stability, flexibility and mobility. It’s important to note that there are many different causes of shoulder pain and stiffness, so it’s best to speak to your Osteopath to know the most likely cause. 

1. Shoulder Pendulum

Target: Shoulder mobility and flexibility

How to do it:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and slightly bend your knees.
  • Lean forward and place one hand on a stable surface, like a table or bench, for support.
  • Allow your opposite arm to hang freely.
  • Use your body to move your arm in small circular motions, with your hanging arm, gently swinging it back and forth.
  • Gradually increase the size of the circles but avoid any excessive movement that causes discomfort.
  • Perform 10-15 circles in each direction


  • Improves shoulder range of motion and flexibility.
  • Helps alleviate stiffness and discomfort in the shoulders.

2. Banded Rows

Target: Shoulder and upper back strength.

How to do it:

  • Secure a resistance band to a sturdy anchor point at waist height.
  • Hold one end of the band in each hand, palms facing each other, and step back to create tension in the band.
  • Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core.
  • Keeping your elbows close to your body, pull the band towards your ribcage, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.


  • Strengthens the muscles of the upper back, including the rhomboids and rear deltoids.
  • Improves posture by counteracting the effects of slouching.
  • Enhances shoulder stability and control.

3. Upper Trapezius Stretch

Target: Stretching and releasing tension in the upper trapezius muscles.

How to do it:

  • Sit or stand tall with your spine straight.
  • If you want a deep stretch, place your hand under your leg if sitting, or behind your back if standing
  • Reach one arm overhead and gently grasp the top of your head with your hand.
  • Keeping your shoulder relaxed, tilt your head to the opposite side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder.
  • Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds, feeling a gentle stretch along the side of your neck and shoulder.
  • Repeat on the other side.


  • Relieves tension and tightness in the upper trapezius muscles.
  • Improves neck mobility and flexibility.
  • Can help alleviate headaches and neck pain associated with muscle tension.

4. Shoulder Rolls

Target: Shoulder mobility

How to do it:

  • Stand tall with your arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Slowly roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, making full rotations.
  • After 10-15 forward rolls, reverse the motion and roll your shoulders backward.
  • Focus on maintaining smooth and controlled movement throughout the exercise.


  • Promotes healthy shoulder mobility by lubricating the shoulder joints.
  • Increases circulation to the shoulder muscles, promoting recovery and relaxation.

Incorporate these four shoulder exercises into your routine to strengthen, mobilise, and maintain healthy shoulders. Remember to listen to your body, modify the exercises as needed, and speak to your health practitioner if needed.

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