Top 5 exercises for correcting Shoulder Impingement


Do you have chronic pain in your shoulder(s)? Do you want to do something about it? If your answers to these questions were Yes and YES, then you are in luck! What if I told you that you can eliminate your shoulder pain with a couple quick exercises and some basic know-how about shoulder posture? Okay, enough with the questions already! I know you’re interested, otherwise you would have stopped reading by now.


Shoulder pain is often attributed to what is called Shoulder Impingement Syndrome. Shoulder Impingement occurs when the surrounding muscles and tendons of the shoulder known as the “Rotator Cuff” muscles are overused and become inflamed or swollen and rub or get pinched up against the bones of the shoulder causing irritation and pain. The pain is often worsened by shoulder movements (especially overhead) and relieved when resting the shoulder. Pain is most often felt on the top or front of the shoulder during shoulder movements but can also be felt traveling down the front of the arm in the biceps region.  


Here are the most common signs of shoulder impingement:


  • Shoulder weakness or restricted shoulder movement
  • Shoulder pain during overhead movements or movements about shoulder height
  • Shoulder pain while sleeping on or laying on it
  • Shoulder pain when throwing


Shoulder impingement is common for people who participate in recreational and physical activities where movements are frequently performed overhead. Some of these activities include tennis and other racquet sports, golf, swimming, volleyball, throwing sports, and weightlifting. Shoulder impingement is also common in people whose occupations involve performing tasks overhead or frequent lifting of objects above shoulder height, such as stocking shelves for instance. Aside from these risk factors the most common predecessors to getting shoulder impingement is forward and slouching shoulder posture.


Our shoulders were intended to sit in an ideal posture but they tend to shift into less ideal posture from repetitive use over time. This non-ideal forward slouching posture that our shoulders shift in to reduces the space for our arms to move within the shoulder socket and makes the muscles more likely to get pinched up between the bones of the shoulder, therefore leading to irritation and pain. If your mother ever told you as a child to sit upright and not slouch, they were probably trying to prevent you from getting shoulder impingement. You can thank them for that reminder when your shoulders are pain free.


So as advertised, you can do something about your shoulder pain and these stretches and exercises that I am about to share with you should help you do just that. Here are my 5 favorite exercises that I commonly prescribe my patients who have shoulder impingement. These exercises are designed to help improve shoulder strength, stability, and shoulder posture to decrease and prevent shoulder impingement. (If you want a handout of these exercises, click the image below- you’ll be able to download them!


  1. Rows – This exercise will help strengthen the postural muscles of the shoulder between the shoulder blades and help reposition the shoulders in the ideal posterior position.
  2. Shoulder extension – This like the rows will help strengthen the postural muscles of the shoulder to position the shoulder in the ideal posterior position while strengthening the muscles of the rotator cuff.
  3. Shoulder abduction – To help strengthen the rotator cuff and improve the overhead motion of the shoulder.
  4. Serratus Punches – This exercise is intended to strengthen muscles that help stabilize the shoulder blades called Serratus Anterior, and they help with improving shoulder stability.
  5. Pec Stretch on a foam roll – To stretch out a muscle called Pectoralis Minor which when tight pulls the shoulders forward in a not-so ideal postural position.


If you still feel like you need help -click the orange button below- this will put you in contact with us so we can sit down one-on-one for an evaluation, free of charge, to educate you on how PT can help you specifically!