Shoulder exercises

Therapeutic strengthening for wellness.

These shoulder exercises are a great starting point if you have a history of shoulder problems. Practice these exercises 1-2 times per day to begin rebuilding the basic strength in your shoulder. Please check with your health care provider before beginning any exercise program.


#1 Scapula Circles

With your arms resting at your side, slowly roll your shoulders forward, down, back and up as shown. Move slowly through your full range of motion to get a gentle stretch through the chest and scapular muscles. Repeat 12-15 times and then reverse directions. This move helps boost your circulation and prepares your muscles for this routine of shoulder exercises.


#2 Isometric rotation

Stand just inside a door frame or facing the corner of a wall with your arm at your side and your elbow bent 90 degrees. Push inward against the wall. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat up to 15 times. Start with a moderate effort and increase your effort gradually. You should feel your chest and front deltoid (shoulder) muscles during this exercise.

Next, turn so that your side is facing the wall or door frame. Maintain the same arm and elbow position. Now push outward against the wall. Same level of effort and repetitions as the previous exercise.

Looking for more than just shoulder exercises? See our catalog of free exercise routines.


#3 The 'A' raise

Kneel in front of a stability ball and then lean your weight over the ball. Rest your arms off to the side as shown. Slowly raise your arms at an angle that is about 30-45 degrees away from your side. Keep your elbows straight. Pull your shoulder blades together at the end of the movement and keep your ears away from your shoulders. Slowly return to the start position. Repeat up to 25 times. Use light weights, starting with 1-2# (can of beans) to make the exercise more difficult.

Note: These shoulder exercises are arranged from easiest to more difficult as you go. If you have difficulty with an exercise, skip it and work on the other exercises for now. Try again once you have built up your strength.


#4 Isometric Abduction

Stand next to a wall so that your side is facing the wall. Push outward against the wall with your elbow straight and your arm a few inches away from your side as shown. Hold for 5-10 seconds and repeat up to 15 times. Start with a moderate effort and increase your effort gradually. You should feel your outer deltoid (shoulder) muscles during this exercise.

Next, lie on your back with your arms out to the side and your elbows bent 90 degrees as shown. Now push down into the floor. Same level of effort and repetitions as the previous exercise. To make the exercise easier, you can slide your arms closer to your sides.


#5 Theraband (or tubing) Shoulder rotation 1

Anchor a light to moderate resistance band into a door. (Tie a knot in 1 end of the band, put the knot outside the door, and then close and lock the door so the band is secure and the door won't come open during the exercise!)

Next, grab the end of the band or tubing and turn so that your side is facing the door frame. Bend your elbow 90 degrees. Step far enough away from the door so that you feel some resistance in the band. Turn your arm outward from your body as shown for the starting position.

Then turn your arm inward against the resistance of the band or tubing as shown. Adjust the level of resistance to moderate by stepping closer to or further from the door during the exercise. Repeat up to 25 times.


#6 The 'T' raise

Kneel in front of a stability ball and then lean your weight over the ball. Rest your arms off to the side as shown. Slowly raise your arms so that they are straight out your side. Keep your elbows straight. Reach your arms outward for the widest possible wing span and keep your shoulders away from your ears. Slowly return to the start position. Repeat up to 25 times. Use light weights, starting with 1-2# (can of beans) to make the exercise more difficult.


Finish your routine of shoulder exercises with our upper body stretching program. As with this exercise routine, if you have discomfort with a stretch, skip it for today and try again later.

Return from shoulder exercises to physical therapy exercises.

Return to home page: Why I exercise

Leave me a comment in the box below.


Rotator cuff exercises
Improve your strength for lifting and overhead movements.



Illustrated stretching exercises
Convenient upper body routine relieves muscular tension



Knee exercises
Isometric, range of motion, and strengthening exercises.




See what's new!