5 Simple Exercises for Shoulder Osteoarthritis

Arthritis can affect any joint in the body including the shoulder joint. If you have shoulder arthritis, one of the best things you can do is exercise. 

These simple exercises for shoulder arthritis, help to keep the shoulder joint moving and prevent stiffness in the joint.

1. Shoulder Pendulum

Key Benefit: Maintain Shoulder Range of Motion 

Loosely hang the affected arm with the hand towards the ground. Gently begin to move the arm in a circular motion. The movement is initiated at the shoulder joint, not by the hand. Perform 10 circles in a clockwise direction and then 10 in a counterclockwise direction.

Shoulder arthritis exercises: Shoulder pendulums
Shoulder Pendulum

2. Assisted Shoulder External Rotation

Key Benefit: Shoulder Range of Motion

Using a lightweight stick such as a dowel rod, broomstick, duster, or a cane place the end of the stick into the palm of hand of the side of the shoulder you are working. Place the other hand gently on top around the rod. Keep the elbow of the shoulder you are working on tightly against your side with the elbow at 90 degrees. 

Gently push the rod horizontally into the palm of your hand as the arm moves away from the body. Move until you feel a gentle pull or stretch at the back of your shoulder and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly move back to the starting position and repeat 5x.

Shoulder arthritis exercises- Assisted Shoulder External Rotation
Assisted Shoulder External Rotation

3. Wall Slides – Facing the Wall

Key Benefit: Shoulder Range of Motion

Stand an arm’s length away from the wall, feet shoulder width apart, and both shoulders facing the wall (try not to rotate at the trunk).  Place a rag or a washcloth in the hand of the shoulder you are working at shoulder height. 

Slide the hand on the cloth up the wall in a straight line until you feet a gentle pull or stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat 5x.

Shoulder Arthritis Exercises: Wall Slides- Facing the Wall
Wall Slides – Facing the Wall

4. Wall Slides – To the side

Key Benefit: Shoulder Range of Motion

Stand an arm’s length away from the wall, feet shoulder width apart, with your body facing the side. Place a rag or a washcloth in the hand of the shoulder you are working at shoulder height. 

Slide the hand on the cloth up the wall in a straight line until you feet a gentle pull or stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Slowly come back to the starting position and repeat 5x.

Shoulder Arthritis Exercises- Wall Slides -  to the Side
Wall Slides – To the Side

5. Door Chest Stretch

Key Benefit: Stretch the front of the shoulder

Stand facing a doorway and keep your elbow at 90 degrees and place your forearm onto the door frame. Gently twist your body away from the arm until you feel a stretch in the muscles of the front of the shoulder.

Hold at the end position for 30 seconds and then slowly move back to the starting position. Repeat 5x. 

If you feel a pinch or numbness going down your arm, try to move into the position slower or hold for a less amount of time.

Shoulder Arthritis Exercises- Door Chest Stretch
Door Chest Stretch

With shoulder osteoarthritis, it is important to maintain the range of motion for as long as possible and to keep the shoulder joint strong. 

These exercises are a simple place to start for anyone experiencing pain or discomfort from shoulder osteoarthritis. 

A few things to remember:

  1. These exercises should not cause pain. These shoulder arthritis exercises should not cause pain or numbness. A slight discomfort may be normal, especially if this is the first time you are trying these exercises. If you do feel a pain that’s sharp or shooting in nature, that is your cue to stop the exercises.
  2. Move slowly. Remember to move slowly through these exercises. These exercises work best if you move through your entire range of motion at a slow pace. Try not to rush through the exercises.
  3. When in doubt, check with your physician. These are general exercise recommendations that are typically a good place to start for someone with shoulder arthritis, however, it is always best to check with your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.

Disclaimer: This post is for general informational purposes only. It should not be used to self-diagnose and it is not a substitute for a medical exam, cure, treatment, diagnosis, and prescription or recommendation. You should not make any change in your health regimen, exercise regimen, or diet before first consulting a physician and obtaining a medical exam, diagnosis, and recommendation. Reactiv Inc. is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis or any conclusions drawn, services or product you obtain through this post, video, infographic, table, photos, or site.

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