How To Fix Shoulder Impingement With Exercises

How To Fix Shoulder Impingement With Exercises

Authored by Marshall on June 25, 2023

Our topic today is shoulder impingement—and If you’ve ever experienced this condition, you know that it’s both painful and inconvenient. It’s also fairly commonplace and can be caused by many factors, including frequent use of the shoulders. For this reason, shoulder impingement frequently affects bodybuilders and weightlifters.

As pesky as it can be to experience shoulder impingement syndrome, exercises can help improve the related pain. Some of these exercises are very straightforward and can easily be performed at the gym or even at home. However, in some cases, it might be better to work with a qualified specialist, like a physical therapist. We absolutely recommend seeking specialist assistance if you see no improvement after several weeks of practicing exercises for shoulder impingement.

Deciphering Shoulder Pain: Is It Impingement?

Not all shoulder pain is shoulder impingement. Before you start performing any shoulder impingement exercises, you should confirm that your symptoms are from the right condition. Ideally, this condition should be diagnosed by a professional—while impingement is not typically serious, it’s good to rule out any other potential conditions and get the appropriate advice. In the meantime, you can also take stock of your symptoms in advance of a medical appointment.

One of the primary symptoms of shoulder impingement is, as you might have guessed, shoulder pain. Often, this pain is felt at the top part of your shoulder, and it is especially noticeable when the arm is lifted. Some people experiencing shoulder impingement might find it painful to lay or sleep on the affected area.

Shoulder impingement is sometimes diagnosed with a technique called the “Empty Can Test.” This test is very simple! Simply lift your affected arm up and out to the side, and rotate your hand so that your thumb faces the floor. (This is where the test got its name; it’s the same motion you would make to pour a drink.) Once in position, use your other hand to try to “push” against the resistance of your arm. If this is painful, there’s a pretty good chance you are experiencing some sort of issue—either shoulder impingement or something else—and should speak with a licensed professional for a proper diagnosis and recovery plan. Even if your test comes up negative, we recommend chatting with a licensed healthcare and/or physio professional to address your shoulder pain and find a cause. An X-ray or MRI might be necessary to properly diagnose your condition. It’s always best to get to the bottom of things!

Understanding Exercises for Shoulder Impingement

While shoulder impingement can be painful and challenging, there is good news about this condition: it can be fixed with the help of certain exercises! By working with a trusted physical therapist or fitness coach, you can perform certain moves to build strength in your shoulders and find relief from impingement pain. Typically, folks only need to do a few sessions with a physical therapist before they can practice their impingement exercises solo.

What Are the Best Exercises for Shoulder Impingement?

There are many different exercises for shoulder impingement, and your PT might recommend different techniques depending on your unique circumstances. It all comes down to what works best for your body. Exercises for shoulder impingement are usually designed to strengthen your shoulders and increase their range of motion. Many exercises for shoulder impingementare simple stretches that don’t require any equipment. While others do use equipment, the tools required are small and portable items like resistance bands, light free weights, and support bolsters. This makes them easy to perform at home once you are comfortable with the form and technique.

The Role of Exercises in Shoulder Impingement Recovery

Exercise can certainly play an important role in recovering from shoulder impingement pain, and it is indeed considered by physical therapists to be one of the most crucial parts of recovery. Most exercise plans for shoulder impingement recovery begin with stretches to help your shoulder improve its range of motion. This helps reduce inflammation, which causes much of the pain you’re experiencing. Once the inflammation has been reduced, your PT will likely move you along to strengthening exercises, so you’re less likely to injure yourself again.

While these exercises are paramount to shoulder impingement recovery, they aren’t the only recommended methods for relief and management. Lots of athletes with shoulder impingement also use cryotherapy and/or medication to manage the pain. Anti-inflammatory treatments such as cortisone shots can be used in severe impingement cases.

Exercises for shoulder impingement

The Do’s and Don’ts: Safety Measures While Exercising

Shoulder impingement is very common and happens to athletes of all fitness and experience levels. Regardless of whether you’re a pro or a newbie, be sure to take the following into consideration:

  • Do ensure you have great form and posture.

How’s your shoulder placement? The way you hold and move your body can lead to shoulder impingement issues. If you’re looking to prevent shoulder impingement in the future (and you should be), it’s absolutely crucial that you have good posture and use proper form when moving. This not only applies to your workout but also to real life. We use our shoulder muscles all the time, whether grabbing something off a high shelf or simply putting a shirt on.

Stumped over how to improve your posture? A fitness coach can help you with that. In fact, one of the biggest benefits of personal training is that it offers a tutorial on safe and functional movement.

  • Don’t get ahead of yourself.

A common culprit of shoulder impingement is an imbalanced workout. Let’s say it’s “arm day,” and you decide to challenge yourself with a heavier weight than usual. If you choose weights that are too heavy for your current fitness level, it can lead to shoulder impingement. That’s why we always remind athletes to stick to their own pace and not rush their fitness journey. While it can be tempting to push yourself harder than you can handle to see progress, this has the opposite effect! If you get injured, your progress is going to slow down. It’s better not to take the risk.

  • Do ask for help.

Life is easier when you ask for and accept help from others. A perfect example of this is the gym. The coaches and counselors who work there have spent years studying and training. They’re qualified experts in the world of health and fitness. When you’re embarking on something new, it makes sense to ask for a few pointers, whether it’s on healthy recovery foods or the best way to hold your shoulders when you throw a baseball.

  • Don’t ignore the pain.

When your body experiences pain, you shouldn’t ignore it. While a bit of discomfort or soreness (like DOMS) is completely normal after a workout, outright pain is another story. If you are experiencing unfamiliar or significant bodily pain, the right thing to do is to seek medical assistance. Until you’re sure that you aren’t injured (or at risk of injury), we also recommend taking a pause on your workout. It can be hard to pull back from exercise when the gym is your happy place, but the sooner any pain is dealt with, the sooner you can come back.

Any Questions?

We have answers.

At Jack City Fitness, we are experts in the world of health and exercise, and we love to share our knowledge with our Partners. Whether you are looking for advice on rotator cuff impingement, exercises to get your blood flowing, or a chance to meet like-minded friends at a heart-pumping workout class, it’s all here at Jack City. Our Partners get 24/7 access, a fleet of elite fitness coaches to work with, and all the equipment and space necessary to grow as an athlete and crush every goal. We love helping our Partners see results—and we can’t wait to see what you’re made of. Call (208) 999-1111 today to book your FREE onsite fitness consultation and tour of our facility.



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