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Easy To Do Arthritis Shoulder Exercises


When it comes to arthritis the stiffening of certain joints can greatly inhibit our day to day activity. This is especially the case when talking about a joint such as the shoulder. It’s one of those joints you might not be aware of using on a regular basis but you use it for everything from driving to eating all the way through to reaching something from a cupboard. 

As with any arthritic joint you have to keep it moving in order to keep it moving freely. That’s easier said than done when you’re in a lot of pain. But thanks to the help of Function Jigsaw here are some very easy-to-do-at-home exercises to help improve the range of mobility and strength in your shoulder joints. 

As with all exercises if you feel any of these are beyond what you are capable of or cause you pain please stop immediately and contact a local physician or therapist.

External Shoulder Rotation

How To Do It: 

Holding a resistance band (available here) in one hand, lock your elbow so it is at a 90-degree angle to your torso. With your other hand pull the band away from your body repeatedly. Once this is done switch to the other arm and repeat. 

Purpose: 

By strengthening your rotator cuff muscles in and around your shoulder joint you are able to support the ball within the socket more proficiently. Furthermore, by moving the joint against the resistance of the band you are encouraging movement in the joint which is beneficial to any stiffness you might be experiencing. 

Assisted Shoulder Flex

How To Do It: 

Take a stick - this can be anything from an umbrella to a simple broom handle - and hold it with your hands shoulder-width apart. Start with the stick down, with your arms relaxed. Then bring it up - keeping your arms straight at all times - to just above head height. You don’t need to go higher than this. 

Purpose: 

This vertical movement of the shoulder joint allows your shoulders to work together to increase the range of motion in them. The stick encourages you to keep your arms straight therefore also working the muscles in both arms to better support the joint as well as improving overhead mobility, something which is lost during arthritis of the shoulder.

Lateral Shoulder Raises

How To Do It:  

Holding a resistance band in one hand with your arm straight down just in front of your thigh muscle, take the other end of the band in the other hand. With the same hand gently raise your arm up at a roughly 90-degree angle to your body. Repeat this several times before switching to the other arm. 

Purpose: 

This lateral movement will allow the shoulder to move at an angle to encourage a range of movement. The resistance from the band will help strengthen the deltoid muscles around the shoulder to better support it during lifting and carrying items.

One Hand Band Pull

How To Do It: 

Affix a resistance band to a door handle or something equally secure (be sure you’ve attached it to the side of the door that does not open towards you). Pull the band so you feel a bit of resistance, this is the distance you need to start from. Then gently pull the band in a sawing like motion backwards and forwards but slow and steady.

Purpose:  

By pulling your shoulder blades together as you move, it increases the strength around the shoulder and stabilises the shoulder and rib cage dynamics. This also helps to reverse the effects of driving, sitting and computer work where everything is out in front and rounding shoulders.

Shoulder Stick Sway

How To Do It: 

Take the stick from earlier. Put the palms of your hand on each end - it needs to be short enough so as this is not a struggle to do. Gently swing your arm one way so it is straight and level with your shoulder. The other arm can bend to achieve this. Then swing it back doing the exact same motion to the other arm.  

Purpose: 

By gently exerting the full range of motion on the shoulder you are encouraging it to move freely. The more you move a stiff, painful and arthritic joint the better motion you will begin to find in it. It will also begin to feel less painful as a result of the increased movement. 

Further Reading

 Easy To Do Knee Arthritis Exercises

5 Simple Hand Exercises