12 Stretches & Exercises for Shoulder Tendonitis

Shoulder tendonitis is a frequent overuse injury, characterized by repetitive overhead or overextending arm motions. If you want to recover from shoulder tendonitis, it's important to perform the right exercises. This is because the muscles affected by this condition are essential for everyday function. Improve your shoulder discomfort right now with these exercises that concentrate on stretching the range of motion and strengthening the shoulder joint.

Shoulder Stretches for Tendonitis
When you have shoulder pain, you probably avoid a lot of common movements, which then leads to stiffness in the shoulder joint. Stretching can help loosen and restore range of motion, as well as prevent a frozen shoulder or rotator cuff tear.

1. Supine External Rotation Stretch
Lying on your back with your arms abducted to 90 degrees and elbows bent to 90 degrees. To stretch your shoulders and/or chest, starting with your palms facing down toward your feet, let the back of the hands fall back until you feel a stretch. If possible, touch the floor. This will stretch the muscles around your shoulder.

For a more intense stretch, hold this position for 30 seconds or more and complete 2 to 3 sets. You can also try this stretch on a foam roller.

2. Internal Rotation Stretch
Start slowly, and be sure to keep your posture excellent. Your shoulder shouldn't fall forward or slump when you're stretching it.

In order to get started, grab a stretch strap or towel. Put the arm you want to stretch behind your back, with the palm facing away from you. Afterward, grasp the end of the strap. First, take the strap in your hand and put it over one of your shoulders. Then, do the same with the other hand on the opposite shoulder. Use your upper hand to guide your lower hand up the middle of your back as high as it can go.

For 2-3 sets, hold the stretch for 30+ seconds. You should be able to reach your mid-back and shoulder blades comfortably.

3. Quadruped Shoulder Flexion Stretch
This is a great way to stretch your shoulders and improve flexibility. Begin on your hands and knees, with both hands positioned directly beneath your shoulders. Next, move your butt back towards your feet as you bring your chest closer to your thighs and the ground. Continue to move until you reach a significant stretch in the shoulders and/or upper back.

For a deeper stretch, hold for 30+ seconds for up to 3 sets. You may also get a deeper stretch by putting your hands on an exercise ball.

4. Cross Body Stretch
Avoid applying too much pressure to the front of the shoulder or rotator cuff, which can be pinched by inflamed tissues. For this stretch, bring your injured arm across your body and rest it at chest height. Use your opposite hand to guide your upper arm and bring your elbow towards the opposite shoulder. Stop when you feel a deep stretch in the back of the shoulder.

Hold for 30-45 seconds on each arm for up to 3 sets.

Upper Body Stretches
The neck, shoulder blades, and upper back are intricately connected and it’s common for stiffness and pain to be present in these secondary areas with shoulder pain. Try these stretches for relief.

5. Neck release
To stretch your neck, sit in a comfortable chair. Bend your neck sideways, bringing your left ear toward the left shoulder. For a deeper stretch, keep the right shoulder blade down and relaxed as you extend the right arm out to the side (and slightly back). The stretch will be most significant on the right side and shall extend from the top of your shoulder to beneath your ear. Switch to stretch the other side.

For a deep stretch, hold this position for 30+ seconds on each side. If you want an even deeper stretch, use your opposite hand to apply pressure.

6. Shoulder Rolls/Shrugs
To do this exercise, lift both shoulders towards the ears, then roll them back and drop them down as low as possible. Keep going in a circular pattern before switching.

Repeat the move 20 times in each direction.

7. Shoulder Pulley

A shoulder pulley is a tool that may be used in physical therapy to stretch the shoulder or rotator cuff while developing good upper body mechanics. Install a pulley over a doorframe. To begin, sit in the chair with one handle in each hand beneath the door. You can position your hands in any way you'd like. Then, lift one arm at a time as high as permitted. Make sure your upper shoulder and neck are kept low and away from the ear while your arm rises.

For each arm, hold for 5-10 seconds at the top of 20 repetitions. Vary your position by lifting the arm at a diagonal or straight out to the side.

8. Quadruped Thoracic Rotation
Start on your hands and knees with your hands exactly beneath your shoulders. Lock your lower spine into place by bringing your butt down toward your heels, and flexing the hips as you go. Your heels don't need to touch for this pose. Place one hand behind your head, with the elbow bent at a 90-degree angle. Continue to move the opposite hand up as you rotate your spine and point your elbow upward toward the ceiling. Repeat from the beginning.

Do 8-10 reps per side. Keep the motion slow and controlled. You may even keep it at the top of each movement. With each repetition, you should feel a stretch in the upper back and be able to rotate deeper.

Shoulder Strengthening Exercises
Once your shoulder range of motion improves, you should start strengthening exercises that target the rotator cuff, shoulder blades, and upper back.

Always begin slowly when attempting a new activity and see how it feels before increasing.

9. Isometric External Rotation
Use your opposite hand for resistance training, keeping the elbow of your injured shoulder bent at a 90-degree angle and tucked into your side. Place the palm of your other hand against the back of the first. Gently pull the injured arm toward your belly button, as if you were going to move it there. Activate the shoulder muscles by pushing against pressure with your arm. There should be no movement while doing so.

Hold each rep for 2-5 seconds and repeat 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets. You'll feel it in the back of your shoulder. Remember to relax your neck muscles while doing this exercise.

10. Resisted External & Internal Rotation
For this workout, use light to a medium
resistance band.

External Rotation
With your elbows bent and hands shoulder-width apart, hold the band with the palms facing up. Next, rotate your shoulders and pull your hands away from each other. Pinch your shoulder blades together as you do this. Move within a range that is comfortable for you.

External Rotation
Anchor the band around a door at your navel, and stand sideways to the door. Bring the band back over your head, placing it in the arm that's closer to your body (elbow bent). With one hand on top of the other, pull them across your stomach and toward your belly button again. Maintain an upright posture, keep the elbow tucked in, and relax your neck.

For the best results, repeat each of these moves 10-15 times and do 2-3 sets total.

11. Resisted Shoulder Flexion & Abduction
Begin with a light to a medium resistance band. In both hands, hold the band about 3 feet apart.

In both hands, hold the band about 3 feet apart. For stability, place the hand you won't be moving on the same hip. Raise the opposite shoulder forward and straight up as high as possible, then return to the beginning position.

For the flexion exercise, follow the same procedure but rest your hand on the opposing hip. Then, extend your shoulder as far to the side as possible.

Repeat with both legs 10 times for 2-3 sets on each leg. Take extra care when performing shoulder abduction to prevent injury.

12. Quadruped Lateral Taps
This is a more advanced variation that includes core and shoulder stability as part of the routine. Begin in a push-up position and attach the resistance band to both hands, positioned directly beneath the shoulders. Raise one arm above your head and move it sideways away from your body as far as possible while maintaining good posture in the spine. Tap each side alternatively.

Repeat for 10 or more repetitions on each arm twice or three times.

Nobody enjoys having pain in their shoulder. It can have an impact on your sleep and ability to do the activities you enjoy. Working out regularly and efficiently will help you get on the road to recovery. If your symptoms get worse or don't appear to be improving, contact your doctor for healthcare advice as soon as possible.