Shoulder Pain – 4 Simple Exercises

Tracy at The Therapy Rooms Newcastle shows you how to get rid of shoulder pain

How many times do you catch yourself hunching your shoulders at your desk? Look around. How many of your colleagues have the tell-tale signs of shoulders pulling forward, their heads poking out like little turtle heads from their shells? How many of your family or friends ask you rub their shoulders at the end of the day to ease their shoulder pain?

It seems an epidemic, doesn’t it? So many people seem to complain of stiff sore shoulders even whilst they are sat at their desks, hunching over their lap top or tablet.

How To Help Your Spine Do Its Job

The thoracic spine consists of the 12 vertebrae between the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). 12 pairs of ribs attach to it which forms the rib cage, acting as protection of some of our vital organs. As well as protection, the thoracic spine is vital for movement. It bends forward, backwards and twists to the right and left. Well it should! But lack of mobility in the thoracic spine is so commonplace that we don’t even realise that we could and should move more easily.

But what can you all do about it?

Try these 4 simple exercises to ease shoulder pain….

1. Towel Roll Stretch for shoulder pain

Take a large towel and place it on the floor or a firm surface. Lie on top of it so that the towel is lengthways along the spine. It shouldn’t be so low down that it lies below the ribs. Make sure you put a pillow behind the neck to support it. Lie there for 10 minutes and relax. You may be more comfortable if you lie with your knees bent.

2. Rotation of Thoracic Spine Using a Chair for Shoulder pain

This is a great one for when you’re sitting at a desk. Whilst sitting in firm upright chair, without wheels, turn to the right, as if you’re reaching for something behind you. Hold the back of the chair with the right hand, reach for the back of the chair with the left hand and pull yourself further round. Make sure you keep your bottom firmly planted in the chair as there’s a huge temptation to lift it off to get further round.


3. Chest Stretch

It doesn’t, at first, seem to make sense to stretch the chest muscles, when quite clearly, it’s your back and shoulders that are sore and achy. But constantly sitting and standing with rounded shoulders, causes the chest muscles, particularly the pectoral muscles, to shorten. As a result, we need to stretch and lengthen these muscles, if we want to mobilise the upper back.

Lying on your back, hold a small weight in each hand, or if you don’t have weights, a bottle of water. Start by holding the arms outstretched with the hands above the shoulders. Slowly take the arms overhead at 45 degrees until you can feel a stretch across the chest. Bring the arms back to the starting position and repeat 8-10 times.

4. Thoracic Spine Extension for shoulder pain

Place a rolled up towel or a foam roller horizontally on a firm surface. Lie on the foam roller so that it is across the back, just below the shoulder blades. Take the arms up and over so that the upper back curls over the roller. If you’re comfortable stay in this position and enjoy the stretch. If not, come back into the starting position and repeat. The repetition will help to loosen the stiffness in the thoracic spine.


When should shoulder pain treatment be carried out by a professional?

If you take care of your shoulders with these exercises, you should feel much more comfortable. However, chronic shoulder pain may be due to underlying issues, which need to be investigated. Call Tracy Russell  at The Therapy Rooms Newcastle for a consultation on 07974 725546.

To book an appointment for remedial or sports massage with Tracy Russell call 0191 2136232 or 07974 725546 or email Tracy at   

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Thanks to Jaime Moran Wilson, Sports Massage Therapist, for collaborating with me on this blog.