Shoulder Exercises For Prevention And Rehabilitation

In this section I will supply you with the best shoulder exercises for prevention and rehabilitation.  You will be astonished by its effects and how good they work for shoulder pain relief or for the prevention of such.

Every exercise will be described in detail with all the information you need to execute it properly. Forget about vacuous pictures that leave you disappointed and with more questions than answers. No more exercises where you have the feeling that you do not know what you are doing or if you are doing it right.

The devil is in the detail, and you will get those details. With every exercise I will give you what you need to know to execute it successfully.


Types Of Exercise

Relaxation Exercises

Range Of Motion Exercises

Stretching Exercises


Types Of Exercise

I segmented the exercises into the following categories

  • shoulder relaxation exercises
  • shoulder range of motion exercises
  • shoulder stretching exercises 

Shoulder Exercises For Relaxation

The presented shoulder relaxation exercises consist of coordination and hold-release exercises. I recommend reading my article about muscle relaxation for a general understanding of the underlying principles and my article about shoulder relaxation exercises for a more specific understanding of what you will be doing here and how to get most out of the following exercises.

Shaking Arms

Relaxation exercise for your shoulders and arms.

Dropping Arms

A great and easy exercise to relax your shoulders and arms.

Shoulder Circles

Improve your movement patterns and lower muscle tension.

Shoulder Exercises: Range Of Motion

These movements will „free“ your joints and „reboot“ your nervous system. Read my article "shoulder range of motion exercises" to learn what to explicitly watch out for when doing these shoulder exercises.

If you have no clue what range of motion really means and how it works, you can take a closer look on my article "range of motion exercises".

Shoulder Coordination

The best and fastest way to free your shoulder joint.

Shoulder  Exercises: Stretching

Additionally to the shoulder stretches displayed below, I want to share two articles with you. The first one discusses general topics about stretching in the context of muscle and joint pain. The second one will give you some more specific tips about shoulder stretches.

Shoulder Blade Stretch

Flank Stretch

Yoga stretch that works not only your shoulders.

Guidelines For Shoulder Exercises

To get the most out of the exercises, I want to give you a few  tips and answer some frequently asked questions, respectively.

Do NOT rush...!

Mechanic movements without focus are  - almost  - useless.

Take your time with every exercise you do. All the time, stay relaxed and try to focus as much as possible on what you do, how it feels and to make all movements as smooth and effortless as possible. Never rush through exercises or execute movements fast. Your body really needs this extra time you gain via slow movements to react and adapt in a for you favorable way.

If you rush and go fast, you could also skip the exercise part completely. The effect would be almost the same. Surely, this is an exaggeration, but still hits the nail on the head pretty good.

Organize Your Shoulder Exercises!

A frequently asked question about the shoulder exercises, is in what order to do them or if there is any of such.

In general, I have to say that you should listen to your body and do what feels best for you. No one is the same, and often different people find different types of exercises differently effective. While you may feel your rehab is progressing faster with shoulder exercises that include stretching, I may prefer relaxation training.

Still, I want to lay out and explain my order and preferences for you. I recommend following those tips especially in the beginning as my experience showed that it just works best this way. Later on, you can still experiment on your own.

My order for shoulder exercises:

  • relaxation
  • range of motion ROM 
  • stretching

Relaxation training eliminates excessive muscle tension and helps to normalize it. In other words, it will make your muscles smoother and less tight. Too tight muscles contribute to muscle and joint pain and will make it more difficult, maybe even painful to execute range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises. This is why relaxation comes first.

Stretching and range of motion exercises will improve your flexibility and help to restore or maintain a physiological range of motion and flexibility of your joints, respectively. The difference however, is that ROM exercises contain a higher coordinative aspect and put less mechanic stress/tension on your muscles. This is why I recommend to do ROM exercises before stretching.

This order accounts for a single shoulder exercise sessions – e.g. one exercise per category – as well as for the order in which you should start out with these exercises in general.

Exercise Frequently

But how often?

Doing them once per week is better than doing them not once. Twice is better than once, and so on. Preferably, do them daily. You can even exercise a couple of times per day. For example after waking up in the morning and before going to bed.

Massage relaxation exercises and stretching might display an exception here. If they make your muscles sore, take one or two days off and then start over again. Usually, massage and stretching will not leave you with sore muscles. But if they do so, it is an indication that you pushed yourself too hard. I recommend to take it a little easier the next time.

The presented exercises are physically not demanding, which is why you can do them very often. What they need though, is your concentration. Thus, it will be your limiting factor. So, if you feel tired and unconcentrated, give yourself a break.

Still, be honest with yourself and do not use it as an excuse to skip your exercise routines or to justify a lack of discipline :). Mostly, good things do not come without the latter.

How many shoulder exercises should I do in one session?

Adapt this variable according to your schedule. One exercise per category is fine for a short session. If that is already too much, make sure you always include at least one relaxation exercise.

And always keep in mind to stick with the - types of - exercises that work best for you!

Take Your Time

It may take weeks to progress to the next step in a pain free way - e.g. from relaxation to ROM exercises -. But eventually your patience will pay off!

And always remember to never push through movements that are painful.

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