The 11 Best Stretches For Shoulder Pain Relief

Your posture will thank you.

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Shoulder aches are often caused by poor posture, whether you’re hunching over a phone or slouching at a desk (or both.) Personal trainer David Sautter says muscle imbalance is another common culprit. To realign and loosen things up, turn to these stretches for shoulder pain.

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Overhead Triceps Stretch

This lengthens your triceps muscles to help ease shoulder pain, says Sautter.

- Reach left arm behind your back.

- Grab left wrist or elbow with right hand and pull.

- Bend head to right. Hold 30 sec.

- Gently look up & down.

- Repeat on other side.

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Band Pulls

Grab a resistance band and repeat each move for one minute to lengthen muscles, says trainer Rob Kellner.

- Pull band apart at chest height.

- Hold band taught. Reach arms overhead. Return to chest height.

- Stand tall. Reach band overhead and tilt to side.

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Thread The Needle

This move unwinds shoulder tension, says pro Brittany Hackman.

- Start in tabletop.

- Raise one arm overhead.

- Exhale, release lifted arm and “thread the needle” under other arm.

- Rest shoulder on mat with hips lifted. Breathe.

- Reset. Repeat on other side.

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Wall Twirls

Imagine you're being "twirled" like a dancer, says trainer Chris Lee of his fave shoulder opener.

- Face wall.

- Lift arm up high and place hand on wall.

- Slowly move body under raised arm.

- Twirl 360 degrees to starting position.

- Reverse. Repeat on each side.

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Sun Stretch

Do this yoga-based stretch every hour to open your shoulders, says trainer Scott Malin.

- Stand with shoulder blades back and down.

- Raise arms up to your sides, palms facing up.

- Lift chin and look up.

- Release arms, palms down. Look down.

Repeat for 10 reps.

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Doorway Stretches

To stretch chest and shoulders, try these from Josh Schlottman:

- Stand in a doorway, reach up high, grab onto frame.

- Step forward with one leg and lean into stretch.

- Next, place both hands at shoulder height against frame.

- Press into frame, lean forward.

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Wall Angels

Dr. Amir Vokshoor says this shoulder stretch teaches good posture.

- Stand with back and head pressed against wall.

- Walk feet out slightly.

- Bend elbows 90 degrees into “field goal” or “angels” pose.

- Lift arms, keeping them pressed into wall.

-Lower and repeat.

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Eagle Pose

Yoga teacher Brett Larkin does this stretch daily to release tension.

- Stand or sit. Bend elbows into “L” shape.

- Cross left arm over right, draw forearms together. Grasp hands.

- Take breath. Lift arms up but keep shoulders down.

Hold. Repeat on other side.


Forward Fold

Trainer Kim D'Agnese recommends this stretch to loosen your upper body.

- Stand tall and fold forward.

- Clasp hands behind back.

- Reach hands up to ceiling. Gently rock side to side.

- Hang for 30 secs.

- Bend knees and release hands to transition out of stretch.

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Child’s Pose

D’Agnese also recommends this yoga pose for opening the shoulders and back.

- Kneel on floor. Sit hips back onto heels.

- Lay chest forward over thighs.

- Reach fingertips far forward. Walk them to one side, then the other.

- Breathe deeply for 30 seconds.

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Wall Climbs

Physical therapist Amy Graber, DPT, says to do this 3x a day to increase the range of motion in the shoulders.

- Face wall. Use fingertips to “walk” hands up wall.

- Keep “walking” until you feel a stretch or can’t reach higher.

- Hold then slowly walk hands down.

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