Find Your Place: Prevent Shoulder Pain

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Keep your shoulders strong and help yourself avoid injury with these three simple exercises.

If you want to make easy work of everyday tasks, like grabbing a plate from the cupboard or sorting laundry, you’ll want to give your shoulders some attention. Reaching, lifting, pushing, pulling, twisting—all of these motions rely on strong, stable shoulders.

Your shoulders also play an important role in your ability to stand or sit up with good posture, says SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack. That’s no easy task, given most of us spend too much time sitting and hunched over our phones, tablets, or computers.

This area, though, can be tricky to train, Jack adds. That’s because the shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. This mobility means you can move your shoulders in many different ways. But it also means they’re more vulnerable to injuries, and shoulder injuries can be tough to heal.

Your move: Prioritize exercises that keep your shoulders strong and help prevent shoulder pain. A good place to start is with these three moves.

How to Use These Shoulder Exercises

Each exercise targets the many muscles that support your shoulder joints. Do these exercises at least a couple of times per week, and you’ll start to notice your shoulders open up as your posture improves.

You can use just your hands or a very light set of dumbbells. If using dumbbells, pick a weight that’s light enough for you to complete eight to 10 reps with proper form.

Move slowly and with control. Keep these pointers in mind:

  • Your shoulders should be down and back. Don’t let them creep up by your ears.
  • Keep your core engaged by imagining you’re about to receive a punch in the gut.
  • Squeeze your glutes and push down through the floor to find stability.

If you need to make the moves easier, you can do them seated.

As always, safety is key. These exercises may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Exercise #1: Arm Raise Side to Front

Do 8 to 10 reps

How to do it: Grab a pair of light dumbbells, and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing your body. Engage your core for stability.

Slowly raise both arms out to the sides to shoulder level, or as high as you comfortably can without arching your lower back or letting your shoulders creep up to your ears. Pause, then bring your hands in front of you, keeping your arms at shoulder level.

Pause, then reverse the motion to pull your arms apart and then lower them by your sides. That’s one rep. Do eight to 10 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and use just your hands. You can also try it seated.

Exercise #2: Arm Raise Front to Side

Do 8 to 10 reps

How to do it: Grab a pair of light dumbbells, and stand tall with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand with arms at your sides and palms facing your body. Engage your core for stability.

Slowly raise both arms in front of you to shoulder level, or as high as you comfortably can without arching your lower back or letting your shoulders creep up to your ears. Pause, then pull your arms apart to your sides, keeping your arms at shoulder level.

Pause, then reverse the motion to bring your arms in front of you and lower them by your sides. That’s one rep. Do eight to 10 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and use just your hands. You can also try it seated.

Exercise #3: Bent Over Reverse Fly

Do 8 to 10 reps

How to do it: Grab a pair of light dumbbells, and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand with arms in front of you and palms facing each other. Engage your core for stability.

Push your hips back and bend your knees to hinge forward slightly, making sure you don’t round your back.

From here, pull your hands apart and raise your arms as high as you comfortably can without arching your lower back or letting your shoulders creep up to your ears. Pause, and squeeze your shoulder blades, pulling them down and back. Think about squeezing a grape between your shoulder blades.

Return to starting position, and repeat. Do eight to 10 reps.

Make it easier: Skip the dumbbells, and use just your hands. You can also try it seated.

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