Twelve Exercises to Overcome Shoulder Tendinitis

Today's article will show you some warm-up, stretching, and strengthening exercises with which to overcome shoulder tendinitis. Read on and ask your doctor if you should do them.
Twelve Exercises to Overcome Shoulder Tendinitis

Last update: 27 May, 2022

Shoulder tendinitis is quite painful but you can overcome it. The condition is the result of overexertion or repetitive motion and no one is exempt from it.

This injury limits the range of movement and, thus, affects the normal development of your daily life. The good news is some warm-up, stretching, and strengthening exercises can help relieve the pain.

In today’s article, we’ll tell you what tendinitis is, why it occurs, what treatments are available, and suggest some exercises you can do to recover.

What’s shoulder tendinitis and why it happens

The term tendinitis is a word formed with the suffix -itis, which implies “inflammation.” Simply put, it’s the inflammation of the tendon.

Therefore, what we call shoulder tendinitis is basically an inflammation that affects several areas of a joint, from the brachial biceps to the rotator cuff. Some of the main factors associated with this injury are:

  • Age. Joint stiffness may be a predisposing factor in older patients, due to osteoarthritis.
  • Intense sports activity. The effort and repetition of certain movements, and even the range of these, triggers the injury in people who are really active, and in women. For example, it’s common in baseball pitchers.
  • Repetitive or heavy work. Such as that performed by designers, programmers, masons, and blacksmiths.
  • Other causes. Sudden movements or situations of scarce blood flow in the tendons.
A man looking at his shoulder.
In addition to pain, tendinitis in the shoulder is caused by the limited movement of the joint.

Check out these Exercises For Shoulder Tendinitis

Symptoms and diagnosis of shoulder tendinitis

The most obvious sign of shoulder tendinitis is inflammation and pain.

A person may experience tenderness when moving and stretching a muscle, or when putting pressure on the joint. Additionally, there may be a lack of strength. This is because the inflammation, pain, and lack of strength that characterize shoulder tendinitis limit a person’s ability to perform their daily activities.

Doctors must do various tests in order to diagnose this kind of injury. It could be an X-ray, an ultrasound, an MRI, or a computerized axial tomography (CT scan). In addition, they must do a medical examination and a detailed study of the patient’s medical history.

Possible treatments

Arthroscopy is an available treatment for shoulder tendinitis but surgery is reserved only for the most severe cases. Instead, a doctor will probably suggest a more conservative alternative.

In addition to rest and the application of cold to the painful area, a doctor will most likely suggest some physical therapy for the purpose of improving mobility, stability, and strength of the joint. The exercises usually involve stretches and massage.

There are other techniques such as electrotherapy and ultrasound as well. Also, professionals often recommend analgesics and anti-inflammatories.

You may also be interested in A Natural Tendinitis Treatment

Exercises to overcome shoulder tendinitis

Here are some exercises to overcome shoulder tendinitis. We’ll divide them into warm-up, stretching, and strengthening movements, each with its appropriate indications.

Warm-up exercises

  • The first exercise you’ll do is the pendulum. It consists of bending the body, trying to put the trunk as parallel as possible to the floor. The affected arm, hanging downwards, should rotate, making short circles. The other may rest on the back of a chair or on a railing.
  • The next warm-up consists of standing in an open doorway and placing your hands on the frame, at shoulder height. Then, take a short step forward; one foot first and then the other. You should always keep your back straight. Also, try not to force the movement of the joint too much.

Stretching exercises

  • Once you’re all warmed up, it’s time to move on to the stretching exercises and you’ll start with frontal stretching. This consists of bringing the hand of the affected arm towards the opposite shoulder and trying to lift the elbow a little, helping yourself with your free hand. Maintain the position for about five seconds.
  • You’re going to do the supported and elevated stretch while standing, placing the hand of the affected arm on the wall, slightly above the shoulder. Then, stretch your fingers, moving the palm away from the surface and moving or dragging the fingers upward to elevate the shoulder.
  • The next exercise is a banded stretch. Ideally, you must use a rehabilitation elastic band but you may also use a towel if you don’t have one. Place the back of the hand, on the affected side, behind your back; then place the other hand over your head. Hold the band with both hands. Pull gently to raise the other hand with the upper hand. You can do a variation of this exercise without the towel or band. Just place the hand of the affected arm behind the back and try to raise it as high as possible.
  • Then, finish the stretch with a passive internal rotation. You’ll need a stick (a broom handle will do) for this exercise. Hold it behind your back. Then, stretch with the hand of the unaffected arm to make the other one reach the center of the waist.
An x-ray of a person.
Imaging studies provide important data for assessing the severity of shoulder tendinitis.

Strengthening exercises

  • It’s now time for the strengthening exercises, starting with a rope. Tie it to a door or a gate. Then, stand facing the wall at a distance of one yard and pull the rope, using the hand of the affected shoulder, as if you were rowing.
  • Then there’s the external rotation at 90 degrees with the injured arm. You’ll start in the same position as the previous one, but you’ll move with the extended arm, raising it until the hand is at the height of your head. Then, you’ll return it to the initial position.
  • Let’s now move on to the internal rotation exercise with a band. You’ll place yourself on your side, with the affected shoulder towards the wall. Then, take the band with that hand, keeping the elbow attached to the side, and stretch it until you reach the elbow on the opposite side with the wrist.
  • The external rotation exercise with a band is similar to the previous one. The difference is the unaffected shoulder will be the one facing the wall and, therefore, the movement will be outwards.
  • Finish your session with some push-ups against the wall. This is similar to the so-called push-ups. The difference is you’ll do them in a standing up position and let the weight fall towards the wall.

Always consult a doctor before doing any exercises for shoulder tendinitis

Don’t do any of these exercises for shoulder tendinitis without consulting a doctor first. In other words, don’t exercise if they’ve recommended complete rest.

Finally, these exercises must also be performed under the supervision of an orthopedic surgeon or physiotherapist, so be sure to consult them. Finally, you may require further evaluation or a surgical approach if the pain doesn’t go away and you can’t overcome shoulder tendinitis.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Martinez, Gil, and José Luis Martínez Gil. Lesiones en el hombro y fisioterapia. Arán Ediciones, 2006.
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.