8 Best Exercises for an Impinged Shoulder: Relief and Recovery

Dealing with shoulder impingement can be painful and restrictive. This ailment, commonly caused by repetitive overhead movements, causes the rotator cuff tendons to become inflamed and stuck between the shoulder bones. However, you can reduce pain and enhance mobility with the appropriate workouts. The following Exercises for an Impinged Shoulder are eight highly recommended workouts for those with an impinged shoulder. Before beginning any new fitness plan, contact a healthcare practitioner to ensure the activities are appropriate for your condition.

8 Best Exercises for an Impinged Shoulder

1. Pendulum Stretch

The pendulum stretch is a moderate method to begin moving your shoulder. Lean over and support your weight with your good arm on a table, allowing the affected arm to hang down. Swing the arm gently in small circles, gradually increasing its diameter. Perform this exercise for one minute two to three times per day.

2. Cross-Body Reach

The cross-body reach exercise stretches the shoulder muscles. Lift your affected arm at the elbow with your appropriate hand and bring it across your body, using slight pressure to lift the shoulder. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat three times.

3. Towel Stretch

A great way to improve the range of motion in your shoulder is the towel stretch. Hold a towel diagonal with both hands, pulling upward with your good arm to stretch the affected shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat up to four times.

4. Doorway Stretch

Stand in an open doorway and spread your arms out to the side. Grip the door frame with each hand at or below shoulder height, and lean or step forward until you feel a gentle stretch in the front of your shoulders. Hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Repeat two to three times.

5. Standing Row

A standing row can be performed with a resistance band. Attach the band to a secure object at waist level. Hold the band with the hand of the affected arm. Keep your elbow close to your body and pull the elbow back. Hold for a second and then slowly return to the starting position. Perform 10 to 15 repetitions.

6. External Rotation with Band

Secure a resistance band at waist level. Hold the end with the affected arm elbow at a 90-degree angle, and rotate the arm away from your body, keeping the elbow close to your side. Do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

7. Internal Rotation with Band

Similar to the external rotation, but this time, rotate the arm towards your body. Keep the elbow close to your side throughout the movement. This exercise also strengthens the muscles inside the shoulder. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

8. Scaption

Scaption is performed by standing and holding light weights (or no weights) in each hand. With thumbs pointed up, raise your arms at a 30-degree angle from your body (in the plane of the scapula) up to eye level. Lower slowly. Perform two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions.

All Exercises for a shoulder impingement

Here’s a table converting the exercises for shoulder impingement into a structured format, along with descriptions for each:

1Shoulder blade squeezeImprove posture and strengthen the muscles around the shoulder blades.
2Doorway stretchStretch the chest and shoulder muscles by leaning forward in a doorway.
3Chest stretchStretch the chest muscles by pulling the arms back.
4Shoulder FlexIncrease shoulder flexibility and range of motion.
5Internal rotationStrengthen the rotator cuff muscles by rotating the arm inward.
6Wall angelImprove posture and shoulder mobility against a wall.
7External rotationStrengthen the rotator cuff by rotating the arm outward.
8External rotation lyingPerform external rotation while lying down to target specific shoulder muscles.
9Scapular RetractionsStrengthen the shoulder blades by drawing them together.
10Resistance band rowsStrengthen the back and shoulders using a resistance band.
11Sleeper stretchStretch the shoulder in a lying position to improve flexibility.
12Thoracic extensionImprove upper back mobility and posture.
13Wall slidesIncrease shoulder mobility by sliding arms up and down against a wall.
14Crossover arm stretchStretch the shoulder and upper arm by crossing one arm over the body.
15Front shoulder stretchStretch the front part of the shoulder by pulling the arm across the chest.
16Cobra liftsStrengthen the back and shoulders by lifting the chest off the ground.
17External rotator strengthening exerciseTarget the external rotator muscles for improved shoulder stability.
18Isometric shoulder abductionStrengthen the shoulder without movement by applying force against resistance.
19Overhead stretchStretch the shoulders and improve flexibility by reaching overhead.
This table provides a comprehensive overview of exercises beneficial for managing and rehabilitating shoulder impingement.


Consistency is key when performing these exercises for shoulder impingement. Start with low resistance and gradually increase as your shoulder strength and flexibility improve. Remember, these exercises should not cause pain. If you experience pain, stop the exercises and consult with a healthcare provider. Incorporating these exercises into your daily routine can significantly aid in recovery and help prevent future shoulder issues.


How do you release an impinged shoulder?

To release an impinged shoulder, focus on exercises that improve mobility and strength in the shoulder joint. Gentle stretching, like pendulum and towel stretches, can help increase the range of motion. Strengthening exercises using resistance bands, such as external and internal rotations, can build the muscles around the shoulder to reduce impingement. It’s also beneficial to incorporate activities that enhance posture and scapular stabilization.

How do you repair a shoulder impingement?

Repairing a shoulder impingement typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and sometimes medications to reduce inflammation and pain. Physical therapy exercises to strengthen the rotator cuff and improve the shoulder joint’s flexibility are crucial. In severe cases, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be considered to relieve pressure on the tendons and allow them to heal.

Should you stretch an impinged shoulder?

Yes, you should stretch an impinged shoulder, but cautiously. Gentle stretching can help improve flexibility and range of motion, reducing the tension on the impinged tendons. Significant stretches include cross-body reach, doorway stretches, and towel stretches. These should be performed gently to avoid exacerbating the impingement. Always listen to your body and stop if you experience pain.

What are the 2 tests for shoulder impingement?

The two standard tests for diagnosing shoulder impingement are the Neer and Hawkins-Kennedy tests.

  1. Neer Test: The examiner stabilizes the patient’s scapula with one hand, then internally rotates the arm and raises it, compressing the supraspinatus tendon against the coracoacromial ligament. Pain indicates a positive impingement test.
  2. Hawkins-Kennedy Test: The patient’s arm is flexed to 90 degrees, and the elbow is bent. The examiner then forcibly internally rotates the shoulder. Pain or discomfort indicates a positive impingement test.