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August 2021

4 Tips to Prevent Shoulder Pain

Whether you’re painting a room, practicing your softball pitch, or hoisting something onto a high shelf, your shoulders are putting in more work than you know. Each shoulder is made of multiple joints, muscles, and tendons (cords of tissue that connect muscles to bones). This complex anatomy allows for a wide range of motion. But when there’s a problem in the area, it can also cause considerable pain.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce your risk for shoulder problems. Here’s how to give pain the cold shoulder.

1. Sit straight and tall

Mom was right: Good posture is important when you’re sitting. Slumping down or hunching over in your chair can contribute to shoulder pain. Become more aware of your seated posture throughout the day. Avoid rounding your shoulders or jutting your head forward.

2. Improve your flexibility

Stretching helps keep your shoulders and shoulder blades moving properly. Done after exercising, it also helps ease muscle soreness. Here’s one stretch to try:

  • Stand with your shoulders relaxed.

  • Gently pull your right arm across your chest as far as you can, guiding your upper arm with your left hand. Hold for 30 seconds. You should feel a stretch at the back of your shoulder. But you shouldn’t feel pain; if you do, that’s a sign to stop.

  • Do the same stretch on the other side.

  • Repeat three more times on each side.

3. Pump up your strength

Experts recommend doing muscle-strengthening exercises that work all the major muscle groups at least twice a week. For your shoulders’ sake, be sure to include exercises for your shoulders, upper arms, chest, and upper back. You can work these muscles using elastic bands, hand weights, weight machines, or the weight of your own body (for example, push-ups).

Not sure exactly what to do? Search here for shoulder exercises. But if you already have shoulder problems, check with your healthcare provider first.

4. Don’t shrug off pain

If you develop new pain, stiffness, or weakness in your shoulder, contact your provider. Getting proper care can help relieve pain, restore normal function, and often prevent further damage.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
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