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Seven exercises for shoulder arthritis

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Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, including the shoulder joints. Performing specific exercises on a regular basis can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis, which include pain and swelling.
Approximately 54.4 million people in the United States receive an arthritis diagnosis every year.

Arthritis causes flares of inflammation in the joints, leading to pain and stiffness. These symptoms can have a significant impact on how much mobility people have in the affected joints.

As a result, arthritis tends to make it more challenging to exercise. However, keeping the joints active can have a powerful effect on the severity of arthritis symptoms.

The types of arthritis that commonly affect the shoulder include rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis.

In this article, we look at exercises that may reduce the damage that arthritis does to the shoulder joints and help people manage pain.

To discover more evidence-based information and resources for healthy aging, visit our dedicated hub.
Seven exercises for shoulder arthritis
Share on Pinterest Stretches are a beneficial exercise for shoulder arthritis.
The most beneficial types of exercise for arthritis include:

range-of-motion and flexibility exercises, such as stretches, which reduce stiffness
strength exercises that build muscle mass around the joints, which reduces the strain on them
aerobic activities, such as walking, swimming, and cycling, as these improve heart, lung, and muscle function
The following exercises should stretch and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint:

1. Shoulder elevation stretch
This exercise improves the range of motion in the shoulder joints and stretches the muscles. Doing this exercise regularly should facilitate daily activities, such as reaching for items on shelves. To do this exercise:

Lie on your back.
Hold a broom handle or walking stick with both hands, keeping them shoulder-width apart.
Place the handle or stick gently on the thighs.
Slowly raise the pole up past the chest, then over the head so that it is almost touching the floor above the head. Keep the arms as straight as possible throughout.
Lower the handle or stick slowly back down to the thighs.
Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions once a day.
You should feel a gentle stretch in the shoulders, back, and chest as the arms move overhead.

2. Shoulder outward rotation stretch
This exercise also requires a broom handle or walking stick. It improves the flexibility in the shoulder joints. Follow the steps below:

Lie on your back.
Keeping the upper arms by your sides, bend your elbows and hold the stick out above the chest with your hands shoulder-width apart.
Slowly move the pole to the left until you feel a stretch in the left shoulder.
Return to the starting position.
Repeat on the right side of the body.
Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions once a day.
3. Shoulder blade rotations
This rotation stretches the shoulders to promote increased range of movement. To do this exercise:

Stand in a neutral position with your hands at your sides.
Raise your shoulders towards your ears and hold for 5 seconds.
Gently squeeze the shoulder blades together and hold for 5 seconds.
Pull the shoulder blades downward and hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat 10 times.
4. Pendulum exercise
The pendulum exercise helps relieve pain and relax the shoulder muscles. It involves the following series of movements:

Bend forward and rest a hand on top of a chair or counter for support and balance. Use the arm that is less sore to do this.
Allow the other hand to hang down.
Using motion from the legs and hips, gently swing the hanging hand back and forth and side to side in a circular motion.
Repeat this 30 times in each direction once a day.
5. Door lean
The door lean can help stretch the muscles in the shoulders and improve resistance in the joints. Perform the exercise as follows:

Stand facing toward a doorway and raise both hands above your head.
Place one hand on either side of the doorframe.
Gently lean forward until you feel a comfortable tension in your shoulders.
Hold this position for 15–30 seconds.
Repeat 3 times.
6. Door presses
Door press exercises can help build strength in the shoulder joints. To do these exercises:

Stand in a doorway and bend one elbow into a right angle with the thumb on that hand pointing toward the ceiling.
Press the back of your wrist into the doorframe.
Hold for 5 seconds.
Repeat with the palm of your hand, using the other side of the doorframe.
Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each side.
7. Strengthen the postural muscles
Strengthening the postural muscles will improve overall posture, allowing the shoulders to move more easily in all directions. These exercises require an exercise band, which it is possible to buy in a sporting goods store or online.

To do these exercises:

Stand straight with your shoulders back.
Loop the exercise band behind a solid, vertical object and hold one end in either hand.
Relax your shoulders and bend your elbows at your sides.
Pull your elbows backward while squeezing the shoulder blades together. If the exercise band does not provide any resistance, take a step back or loop the ends of the bands around your hands.
Hold for 5 seconds.
Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions once a day.

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