Painful Shoulder? You Might Need to Stretch It Out

Live Healthy

A common myth is that shoulder problems occur from overuse. Turns out, the shoulder thrives with use. 

The majority of shoulder pain is triggered by capsulitis, which is an inflammation of the joint capsule that causes feelings of stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint. 

Shoulder pain that is not caused by a dislocation or arthritis begins as a tight shoulder. When the shoulder hurts, it is common for people to stop using it in a normal manner out of concern of causing more damage. However, once a person stops using his shoulder in a normal manner, it tightens up because it is the everyday use of joints that keeps them loose. 

“The solution is stretching,” says Dr. Edward Weldon, an orthopedic surgeon at Straub Medical Center.

“When you start to feel pain in your shoulder, make sure you regain your flexibility by gently stretching throughout the day," Weldon says. "This concept is important it has to be done gently five times a day, throughout the day.” 

A stiff shoulder is a painful shoulder, and stretching allows for motion and relieves stiffness. The more the shoulder is in use, the better off it will feel. 

To relieve shoulder stiffness, complete these stretches five times a day, doing five repetitions of each stretch and making sure to hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.For a stiff shoulder, Weldon recommends the stretching routine at right, with the following:

  • Complete the stiff shoulder stretches five times a day, doing five repetitions of each stretch.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Repeat every two to three hours.

For more stretching suggestions, watch the videos below, or visit our YouTube channel.


Dr. Weldon assists Barry with an internal rotation stretch that can help alleviate shoulder pain.


Dr. Weldon assists Marcus with a simple stretching program that can help alleviate capsulitis in the shoulder.


Dr. Weldon assists Jackie with a stretching routine that can alleviate capsulitis in throwing athletes.


Remember: If stretching causes pain that lasts longer than 15 minutes, stretch more gently to avoid injury. 

“These particular stretches are not the only stretches you can do, but this is the solution that works in my practice when done wisely," Weldon says. "Getting people to do this stretching routine is hard, but we have a great group of physical therapists at the Straub Bone & Joint Center who understand this cycle and understand how to get people to stretch."

Straub’s multi-disciplinary bone and joint team provides expert care that spans surgical and non-surgical treatments and rehabilitation services. Find out more by clicking here.

To learn more about the full range of bone and joint services offered by Hawaii Pacific Health's Bone & Joint Centers, click here.

Published on: September 7, 2016