Understanding shoulder pain
The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. It’s one of only two sets of ball and socket joints (the other set is at your hips) and it allows for movement in all planes of motion. This makes the shoulder incredibly useful for everyday life – you can lift, lower, push, pull, twist and throw.
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. But, the mobility it provides also makes it unstable. And the joint’s natural instability makes it prone to injuries and pain.
Stability and mobility help prevent shoulder pain
“Your shoulder is complex,” says physical therapist Preston Brown.
“You’ve got your collarbone, shoulder blade, mid-back, shoulder joint, and all the surrounding muscles. It’s imperative that you have optimal mobility and stability throughout all components of the complex if you want to have a healthy, pain-free shoulder,” he says.
This means if one component is weak or restricted, something else will pick up the stress. “Therefore, the key to fixing shoulder pain is to ensure that every part of the complex is carrying its weight,” he says.
Yes, you can do exercises like dumbbell shoulder presses, pushups, lateral raises, and front raises to help strengthen the major muscles surrounding the joint. However, the problems often arise not from the lack of outright strength, but from a lack of stability and mobility. This means you need to target and strengthen the smaller muscle groups surrounding the joint while working on attaining and maintaining a proper range of motion in all directions.
When to see a doctor
Of course, as with any complex joint, there can be many causes of pain. That means, in this case, shoulder pain exercises or stretches that help one person may not help another because the root cause may be different. If any exercise causes sharp pain or discomfort, discontinue the exercise. And if pain continues for more than a few days, be sure to make an appointment with your health care provider. This is important to ensure you’re approaching your pain with a critical and correct course of action.
Shoulder pain exercises
If your pain is relatively low and you’re looking for common methods to help address stability and mobility within the joint, consider trying the following five exercises.