Overcoming Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder Impingement: A Comprehensive Guide and Effective Exercises for Relief

Have you ever experienced that persistent twinge in your shoulder? That might well be the manifestation of shoulder impingement—an ailment wherein the tendons of the rotator cuff become inflamed, causing pain, weakness, and an impediment to motion in the space between the shoulder blade and joint.

Common symptoms include pain when lifting your arm, weakness in the shoulder, difficulty reaching behind the back, pain that worsens at night and clicking or popping sounds during arm movement.

One way to help shoulder impingement is to address why you might have developed it in the first place:

  1. Overuse and Repetitive Movements: Activities that involve repetitive overhead movements, such as painting, swimming, or weightlifting, can contribute to shoulder impingement.
  2. Muscle Imbalances: Weakness or imbalances in the muscles surrounding the shoulder, particularly the rotator cuff muscles and the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blades, can increase the risk of impingement.
  3. Poor Posture: Slouching or having rounded shoulders can narrow the subacromial space, increasing the likelihood of impingement.
  4. Bone Spurs or Structural Issues: Anatomical variations or the development of bone spurs can also contribute to impingement.


At Ascend Fitness, many of our clients come to us with shoulder impingement (often due to poor posture). A few exercises that can help are:

  1. Rotator Cuff Strengthening:
  • External Rotation with Resistance Band: Attach a resistance band to a fixed point, hold the other end with the hand of the affected arm, and rotate the arm outward against resistance.
  • Side-Lying External Rotation: Lie on your unaffected side with a light dumbbell in your hand, elbow bent at 90 degrees. Lift the weight away from your body, keeping your elbow close to your side.
  1. Shoulder Blade Stabilization:
  • Scapular Squeezes: Sit or stand with good posture. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as if you’re trying to hold a pencil between them. Hold for a few seconds, then relax.
  • Prone W, Ys, Ts and Is: Lie face down on an incline bench and perform Y and T movements with light dumbbells to engage the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blades.
  1. Stretching Exercises:
  • Doorway Stretch: Stand in a doorway, place your hands on the frame, and gently lean forward to stretch the chest and shoulders.
  • Cross-Body Stretch: Use the unaffected arm to gently pull the affected arm across your chest, holding for 15-30 seconds to stretch the back of the shoulder.
  1. Range of Motion Exercises:
  • Pendulum Swing: Bend at the waist and let the affected arm hang. Gently sway it in a circular motion, gradually increasing the size of the circles.
  • Codman’s Pendulum Exercises: While leaning on a table with the unaffected arm, let the affected arm hang freely. Swing it gently back and forth and in circular motions.


Shoulder impingement can be a challenging condition, but with the right exercises and consistent effort, it is possible to alleviate pain and improve shoulder function. Ascend Fitness is here to help. We offer personalized fitness programs to improve strength, mobility, energy and we specialize in working with people with injuries and limitations. To learn more, click the “New Member Program” or call us at 604-392-0892.



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