If you are experiencing shoulder pain due to an injury, condition, surgery, or bad posture, try these gentle stretching and strengthening exercises to help relieve the pain.


The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. Composed of the clavicle, scapula, and humerus bones and four joints including the main ball-and-socket joint, the shoulder is a complex system providing a very wide range of movement. The shoulder is surrounded by a tough fibrous sleeve, muscles and ligaments, which all play a part in helping to hold the joint together. If any of these elements become weak or damaged, you are likely to experience acute to chronic shoulder pain that can affect your daily life. 

The most common shoulder issues which you can treat with physio exercise include frozen shoulder, fractures, strains, tendinitis, trapped nerves, torn cartilage, Bursitis, arthritis and even diabetic shoulder pain.

It may be clear to you what caused the onset of pain; you may have suffered a recent fall or sports injury, may have strained your shoulder during exercise or have a pre-existing health issue. However, shoulder pain isn’t always caused by a problem in the shoulder joint itself – problems in the neck can cause pain that’s felt over the shoulder blade or in the upper outer arm. View our physiotherapy exercise videos for neck pain.

If you are experiencing pain in your shoulder or neck, have noticed swelling, clicking or popping noises, or are struggling to move your arm, we advise you to arrange an assessment at one of our nationwide physio clinic locations, or virtually via video call. In the meantime, please follow our easy and gentle preliminary exercises for painful shoulders.


Are you anxious to exercise your shoulder, in case you unintentionally cause more damage? The majority of the time, regular gentle exercise tailored to your condition is the best treatment for shoulder and neck pain. If you are unsure of your condition, it is safer to be assessed by a physiotherapist first.

When beginning rehabilitation exercises, make sure you pace yourself to start with and try and do a bit more each day to avoid overworking the area. Exercise should not cause you pain or make your condition worse, and if you experience sharp or sudden pain, you should stop immediately and seek medical assistance. Also, if you believe you may have broken or dislocated your arm and have not yet sought medical help, please do not attempt these exercises.

We know it can be worrying approaching physical therapy exercises for shoulder pain on your own, that is why our physiotherapists are here to help if you need us.


Exercise and stretches are an effective place to start when attempting to reduce your shoulder pain and neck pain. Try to avoid movements that cause pain, but it is much more important to remain active and keep your shoulder socket moving. In just about every case we see, there is substantial weakness in the surrounding muscles due to lack of activity. Our strengthening exercises below can help to rebuild this muscle and regain flexibility so that you can get back to feeling yourself again in no time.

If your shoulder pain is affecting your activity and is persisting, you will need to see a physiotherapist as soon as possible, to help to diagnose, treat and manage your pain. Our team of nationwide physiotherapists can provide a variety of treatments, in addition, to exercise so that you receive the best-tailored rehabilitation programme for your condition.

See our physiotherapy videos on some of the best shoulder blade pain exercises for relief and strengthening below.

In sitting place two small balls in between your elbows and body. Apply gentle pressure on these to avoid them falling. Spend time using your keyboard or mouse in this position.

Stand side on to a wall with your closest foot further in front, place your arm behind you against the wall at hip level to stretch the upper fibres of your chest, then move your arm higher in line with your shoulder to stretch the middle fibres of your chest, then move your arm above your head to stretch the lower fibres of your chest. Hold these positions.

Starting on all fours, keep your arms straight whilst pressing your shoulder blades apart- your upper back should rise towards the ceiling. Then allow your shoulder blades to slide back towards each other

In standing lean forwards placing your arms on a stool, sink your hips back and lean your weight on to your arms- you should feel a stretch through your shoulders and back.

Wall angels - Stand with your back against the wall with your head, mid-back and bum touching the wall. Bring the arms up to 90 degrees and place your elbows and the backs of your hands against the wall. Slowly straighten your arms above your head keeping contact with the wall throughout.

In pronation trigger point (tennis ball) - Place a hard ball between your shoulder blade and spine and lean into the wall. Slowly bend and straighten your knees to massage and release the muscles in your mid-back.

Don’t have fitness equipment?

All of our videos above are designed to be done in the comfort of your own home, without any of the specialist equipment we have at the clinic. The strengthening exercises can be done before your appointment to help deal with the pain, but you may be concerned that you do not have fitness equipment available. Don’t stress, you can use household items instead for all of our exercises, such as tennis balls, dining chairs, milk cartons or even canned goods. For a more targeted approach involving tailored treatment and support, visit us in one of our clinics.


Are you still stuck wondering whether you are doing the right thing for your body? You don’t need to rely solely on your judgement of your condition, our team of advanced shoulder physiotherapists and sports injury experts can treat your mild to chronic shoulder conditions from one of our 17 clinical locations nationwide. Book an appointment today for a full physio assessment and create a personalised rehabilitation program designed around you.

Video call appointments

Can’t visit one of our David Lloyd clinics in person? We also offer virtual video call appointments with our physiotherapists, so you can get targeted treatment from the comfort of your own home.

Nationwide physio clinic locations

Find a location near you

Response Physio & Sports Therapy offer physiotherapy appointments with individually designed treatment plans for customers across the UK. We offer flexible opening hours to suit busy schedules including early morning and late evening appointments, Saturday clinics, and remote clinics. There are no waiting lists, and appointments are often available within 24 hours, so you don’t have to wait around for treatment. No need for a doctor’s referral, we accept self-pay as well as NHS referrals, and all major private health insurers, including AXA, BUPA, and Medico-legal.

We have 15 locations that offer advanced physio treatment for shoulder pain:


Disclaimer: The above exercises alone are not designed as a cure or long term solution for your back pain; if you are suffering from a back injury, illness or condition then you still need to see a physiotherapist.