The complexity of the shoulder joint, coupled with the fact that it’s used in every upper body exercise means it’s particularly vulnerable.
In this article, we’re going to look at 9 shoulder exercises for shoulder pain. They’ll help you build strong, healthy and injury resistant shoulders, and they can all be done at home.
They’re simple exercises, they only use home gym equipment and the techniques are easy to learn. They’re very safe shoulder exercises, and they’re effective.
By following this program you’ll be able to rebuild your shoulders, improving strength through full ranges.
Side note- A Total Gym is a great piece of equipment if you are recovering from an injury as it uses a full free range of motion using your bodyweight as resistance.
Shoulder Anatomy and Potential Causes of Pain
Before we start talking about shoulder exercises, we need to look at what could be causing the issue.
By taking a basic look at the shoulder anatomy, we can understand more about where shoulder pain stems from.
Disclaimer – This isn’t to be intended in place of medical advice. If you have serious shoulder discomfort, seek the diagnosis of a suitably qualified medical professional first.
The shoulder is a very complex joint. It’s a junction of four bones and eight different muscles. There are also tendons, ligaments, and nerves in there.
If you zoom out slightly, there are eighteen muscles that can influence the movement of the shoulder joint.
To simplify, we’re interested in the following four major muscles…
• Anterior deltoid (front shoulder)
• Lateral deltoid (side shoulder)
• Posterior deltoid (back shoulder)
• Trapezius (one of the upper back muscles)
Oftentimes, when one or more of these is weak, tight or overtrained, it can lead to compromised movement, which causes shoulder pain.
This pain ranges in severity from ‘discomfort’ to ‘needs surgery’.
The structures combine to provide the shoulder with the largest range of movement of any joint in the body.
By combining so many tissue types, a large range of motion and such heavy usage, you can understand the vulnerability that the shoulder has.
Couple this with a poor training plan and you can be asking for trouble.
My point is that when we say ‘shoulder pain’, it’s often a more complex topic than we realize.
By performing the exercises in this list, you’ll train the different muscles of the shoulder, hopefully rebalancing the strength of the joint and removing these issues.
You could prevent potentially serious issues down the line with some early inclusion of these movements.
Exercises For Shoulder Pain You Can Do At Home
To complete this set of exercises without editing, you’ll need the following equipment…
• A Total Gym
• Resistance Band
• Push Ups Handles
• Pull Up Bar
If you have all of these, you can build a set of strong and healthy shoulders at home. No need for anything else.
Follow the exercises below and your shoulders will be bulletproof in just a few short weeks…
1. Banded ‘Y’ (3 x 10)
The banded Y is a fantastic exercise for shoulder health. It uses a resistance band, so there’s no risk of over-exertion with weights. Secure the band in place.
Keep your posture upright, engage your core and smoothly pull the bands up and slightly apart. Return under control. Make the shoulders do the work throughout.
2. Banded ‘T’ (3 x 10)
The banded T is similar to the Y, but the arms stay horizontal. When the band is secure, very subtly lean back. Keep your arms horizontal and the band tight. Pull your arms apart.
Make sure the movement is smooth throughout. Don’t ‘jerk’ the bands back, move under control. Again, make sure the shoulders do the work.
3. Banded ‘W’ (3 x 10)
The banded W is a little more advanced in the sense that it involves rotation as well as pulling. Secure the band, and keep it under tension. Always move with control.
The idea here is to make the shoulders do the work as you rotate. As always, maintain good posture and core control.
4. Total Gym Front Raise (3 x 10)
The front raise is an exercise that specifically targets the anterior deltoid (the front of the shoulder muscle).
By using the total gym you can control resistance and make the movement smooth.
Keep a tight core, then pull smoothly through the exercise. Keep the shoulders engaged throughout.
You can find a whole library of exercises to do on the Total Gym here.
5. Total Gym Shoulder Press (3 x 10)
The Total Gym shoulder press is a way to push through a full range of movement. Thanks to the tension in the cord, the shoulders are working throughout the exercise.
In addition, the lack of weight can make the exercise safer. Adjust the angle of your Total Gym so the resistance is a challenge. Move slowly and under control.
6. Total Gym Upright Row (3 x 10)
The upright row is a way to engage the upper back and rear deltoid muscles. It’s part of our strategy to train all of the muscles surrounding the shoulder.
Set the Total Gym so that the resistance is challenging, but you can still perform sets of 10 reps. Squeeze the shoulder blades together as you perform the movement.
7. Push Ups on Handles (3 x 10)
I like this exercise because it doesn’t just strengthen the muscles, it also stretches them. By adding a greater range of movement, you increase the time under tension of the muscles.
By allowing the chest and shoulder muscles to stretch you improve the tissue elasticity and range of movement, which helps to prevent injury.
Keep the tempo smooth, and lower yourself to a full stretch with each rep.
8. Dumbbell Lat Raises (3 x 10)
The dumbbell lat raise is a simple exercise that effectively targets the medial deltoid (middle of the shoulder muscle). The key to getting this exercise right is lifting a sensible weight.
It should be heavy enough to challenge you, but light enough that you can perform a full range of motion with control. Keep your core engaged, posture upright and lift smoothly.
9. Passive Hang (2 x 30 Seconds)
You might wonder why this is here, but the passive hang is a cheat code for shoulder health. You simply hang from the bar, keeping your shoulders relaxed and loose.
The idea is to stretch the lats (muscles at the side of the back), which link into the shoulders. It’s also a good exercise for grip strength too.
Shoulder Exercises in a Home Gym
All of these exercises are home gym friendly. You don’t need anything in the way of advanced or specialist equipment. The benefit of doing these exercises at home is that you’re in your own environment that you can curate.
By building your own home gym you can make it perfect for your needs.
Some people out there prefer having a TV in their home gyms, others like music, and others prefer silence. The important thing is that it’s a place that makes you want to exercise.
The great thing about training your shoulders in a home gym is you can do it whenever you like.
There’s no need to wait for equipment, no need to travel, no need to pay a monthly fee. Just take a walk to your gym and get busy!
How often should you perform shoulder exercises?
I’d suggest that you perform the exercises for shoulder pain in full around twice per week.
That way you build shoulder strength and resilience, so you stop the issues coming back again in future.
The reality is though, these exercises release hormones which can help to improve your mood. As long as you don’t go crazy, you can do them as often as you like.
They’re designed to improve shoulder health, so they’re not too taxing on the body. You could easily get away with performing them as a whole shoulder day.
If you want to perform an edited selection of these then I suggest the Y, T, W, the Total Gym Exercises and the passive hang.
Those are the ones that will give you a lot of benefit and arguably the most bang for your buck when it comes to exercises for shoulder pain.