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What are the Best Shoulder Bursitis Exercises?

Alex Paul
Alex Paul

Many of the best shoulder bursitis exercises involve maintaining or increasing shoulder mobility and strengthening surrounding muscles. Stretches to the supraspinatus muscle, and muscles at the front of the shoulder, are essential once the initial pain has subsided. Exercises to increase the strength of the rotator cuff are also important for rehabilitation. The best shoulder bursitis exercises should cause no pain or increased inflammation because this can prolong a person’s recovery.

Perhaps most important part of bursitis treatment is rest. Any activity that causes pain will result in increased inflammation; this can generally prolong recovery time and make the condition worse. With this in mind, shoulder bursitis exercises should only be performed if they don’t bring about discomfort. In particular, exercises such as throwing and overhead weights should be avoided because these can put a lot of pressure on the bursa. A physiotherapist should be able to provide a list of exercises that increase in difficulty as the pain begins to decrease.

Woman exercising
Woman exercising

Even though rest is essential for a full recovery from shoulder bursitis, it’s also important to keep the joint mobile through shoulder bursitis exercises. There are several stretches that can help address bursitis of the shoulder. The first is the supraspinatus stretch which can be performed by placing one hand behind the back and gently pulling forwards on the elbow with the other hand. This should induce a gentle, but not painful, stretch in the shoulder.

It’s also important to stretch the front of the shoulder. To do this, stand in a doorway while holding one hand above the head and behind the door. Slowly and gently, move forward until a stretch is felt. Shoulder bursitis can cause pain when lifting the arm above the head, so this stretch should only be performed once the inflammation has subsided. A similar stretch that focuses on slightly different muscles can be performed by placing the arm outward instead of upward.

One of the best shoulder bursitis exercises involves strengthening the rotator cuff. To perform this exercise, lie on one's side with the elbow bent to a right angle and resting against the chest. The palm should face downwards. In a slow and controlled manner, rotate the shoulder outward, to raise the forearm until it is on the same level as the shoulder, before returning to the starting position. The exercise should be repeated a minimum of ten times on each side.

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