8 Simplistic Shoulder Rehab Exercises To Reduce Muscle Pain

Your shoulder joints play a very important role in everyday activities and helps to move your arms through a wide range of motion.  As the shoulder joint is very mobile this makes the shoulder more prone to injuries. 

Common causes of shoulder pain include things such as bursitis, arthritis, or a rotator cuff tear.  However, you can address these problems by performing regular shoulder rehab exercises.  

shoulder blades

Before committing to a new exercise program, always seek the advice of a medical professional or physical therapist so they can account for any pre-existing injuries or shoulder conditions.  

If you’ve had shoulder surgery, be sure to get the all clear from your health care provider before you begin.  

Shoulder Rehab Exercises

Scapular Squeeze

The scapular squeeze is a gentle exercise that is a great way to warm up the shoulders helping to loosen them up and get the blood pumping.  

How To Perform A Scapular Squeeze:

  1. Start by sitting on the ground with your legs crossed. 
  2. Keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, face your palms towards the ceiling. 
  3. Now push your shoulder blades back by squeezing the muscles.  Keep your shoulders relaxed as you do this.  
  4. You should feel a good stretch to the front and back of the shoulder.  
  5. Hold the position for around 5 seconds and repeat 10 times.  

Quadruped Hand Taps

Proper form is essential for this simple exercise, so you don’t put any unnecessary stress on to the shoulder joints.

It involves shifting your weight from one side to the other which, over time, will help with shoulder stability.  

You can progress this movement by placing your legs straight out behind you in a plank position. 

How To Perform The Quadruped Hand Tap:

  1. On an exercise mat, position yourself on all fours with your hands placed shoulder-width apart.  
  2. Your knees should be under your hips and wrists directly under your shoulders.  
  3. Keeping your back straight and core braced simply move your left hand under you and tap your right hand.  
  4. Return your left hand back to the starting position and then repeat with the other hand.  
  5. Complete 10 repetitions on each side.  

Front Raise

You’ll need a resistance band to perform the front raise exercise.  

This is a good movement for working the front deltoids and the tension in the exercise band will increase as it’s stretched reaching peak difficulty once your arms are at a 90-degree angle.  

If you find using a band a little difficult you can simply perform this exercise with no equipment.  

front raise shoulder joint

How To Perform The Front Raise:

  1. Place the band beneath your feet and stand with feet around shoulder-width apart. 
  2. Take hold of the handles of the band and begin with your arms relaxed down by your sides.  
  3. Brace your core and begin to raise your arms straight out in front of you.  
  4. Stop when your arms are parallel to the ground and pause for a count of 2. 
  5. Slowly lower your arms back to the start.  
  6. Perform 3 sets for 10 to 12 repetitions.  

Lateral Raise

The lateral raise exercise can be done with or without weights or, if you prefer, with a resistance band. It’s an excellent exercise to improve mobility and stability of the shoulder joints whilst helping to increase range of motion.  

side lateral raise with resistance band

How To Do A Side Lateral Raise:

  1. Adopt a standing position with feet shoulder width apart and arms down by your sides. 
  2. From here, raise your arms up and out to the sides.  
  3. Keep your arms straight throughout with your palms facing the floor. 
  4. Lower back to the start and repeat. 
  5. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions.  

Standing Row

The standing row is a pulling exercise that will help to build muscles to the upper back, anterior deltoid and periscapular.  This movement will also help to improve core strength as you’ll need to engage your abdominals to maintain balance. 

standing chest pull with resistance band

How To Do A Banded Standing Row:

  1. Start by anchoring a resistance band at around chest height. 
  2. Take hold of the band with both hands and stand upright with a slight bend to your knees. 
  3. Begin with your arms outstretched in front of you with some tension in the band. 
  4. Keeping your elbows tucked in, slowly pull the band towards your chest. 
  5. Hold for a count of 3 seconds and return your arms back to the start. 
  6. Perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions.  

Lying External Rotation

How To Perform A Lying External Rotation:

  1. Begin by lying down on the ground on your side.  Your top leg should be resting on your bottom leg.  
  2. Use the arm closest to the floor to support your head and hold a small free weight or dumbbell in the other hand.  
  3. Place a small towel underneath the top arm and bend it to 90 degrees. 
  4. Squeeze your arm into the towel, this will ensure correct form throughout the exercise. 
  5. Now rotate your arm up by moving the shoulder so that the dumbbell point up towards the ceiling.  
  6. Lower back down and perform 3 sets of 8 repetitions. 
  7. Now switch sides to work the other shoulder.  

Supine Internal Rotation

The internal rotation exercise is a great way of strengthening the rotator cuff muscles helping to reduce the chance of injury.  You can progress this movement by hold a light weight in the hand of your working arm. 

How To Perform A Supine Internal Rotation:

  1. Start by lying on the ground so that you face the ceiling. 
  2. Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the ground. 
  3. Place your left arm out to the side and rest it on the floor.  
  4. Place a rolled towel underneath the elbow of your right arm. 
  5. Bend your right arm to 90 degrees and start with your hand pointing up towards the ceiling. 
  6. From here rotate your shoulder forwards so that your upper arm lowers towards the ground.  
  7. Once your forearm has touched the floor, raise it back up and repeat this movement. 
  8. Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions before switching to the opposite arm.  

Pendulum Exercise

The pendulum exercise is so called as you need to allow your arm to swing similar to that of a pendulum.  It’s a great exercise to relax the shoulder muscles and improve flexibility.  

It’s important to allow your working arm to totally relax throughout the exercise.  As this is a very gentle stretch movement you can comfortably perform this a couple of times a day if you wish.   

How To Perform The Pendulum Exercise:

  1. Stand side on to something such as a table. 
  2. Lean forwards and rest your free arm on the table for support. 
  3. Your upper body should be approximately parallel to the floor. 
  4. Allow your working arm to swing down towards the ground.  
  5. Use your body to create some momentum so that your arm gently swings backwards and forwards or in a circular motion.  
  6. Keep going for around 60 seconds before swapping sides. 


The above suggested exercises don’t need to be performed every day and simply adding in a couple to your daily routine will help as part of your shoulder rehabilitation.  Remember to focus on proper form so that you get the most from these movements.  

Shoulder rehab exercises are important to keep the joints moving freely and working on strengthening the surrounding muscles can help to better support the joints.  This not only helps with injury prevention it will also make daily activities, such as lifting and carrying, much easier.  

As previously mentioned, if you have any rotator cuff injuries or are suffering from a common condition such as shoulder impingement it’s important to seek medical advice before starting with a new strength training or exercise conditioning program.

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