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Shoulder Impingement Physical Therapy treatment

Physical therapy  plays a crucial role in the treatment of shoulder impingement, aiming to alleviate pain, improve shoulder function, and restore the individual’s quality of life. In this article, we will discuss the various physical therapy interventions and exercise programs commonly used in the treatment of shoulder impingement. We will also provide recommended sets and repetitions for exercises and outline the proper procedure for performing them.

Physical therapy treatment for shoulder impingement includes:

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy techniques, including joint mobilizations, soft tissue mobilization, and myofascial release, are often employed by physiotherapists to address shoulder joint stiffness, improve tissue extensibility, and reduce pain. These techniques are performed by skilled therapists and are tailored to the individual’s specific needs.

Stretching Exercise Shoulder Impingement treatment

Stretching exercises aim to improve shoulder range of motion and flexibility. Recommended stretches for shoulder impingement include:

Pendulum exercise for Shoulder Impingement treatment

Bend forward with one hand resting on a table or chair for support. Allow the affected arm to hang down and gently swing it in small circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise.

Cross-body stretch

Place the arm of the affected shoulder across your chest and use your opposite hand to gently pull it closer to your body. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Strengthening Exercises for Shoulder Impingement Physical Therapy treatment

Strengthening exercises target the rotator cuff muscles and the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint to improve stability and support. Recommended exercises include:

External rotation with resistance band

Attach a resistance band to a stable object and hold the other end with your elbow bent at 90 degrees. Keeping your elbow tucked against your side, rotate your forearm outward against the resistance of the band. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Scapular stabilization exercises

These exercises aim to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade. Examples include scapular squeezes, shoulder retractions, and prone shoulder extension exercises. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions for each exercise.

Neuromuscular Control and Proprioception Exercises

These exercises focus on enhancing the coordination and control of the shoulder joint. Examples include:

Wall push-ups

Stand facing a wall with your arms outstretched at shoulder height, palms resting against the wall. Slowly bend your elbows and lean forward, allowing your chest to come closer to the wall. Push back to the starting position. Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Wobble board exercises

Stand on a wobble board or unstable surface and perform controlled movements, such as shifting your weight from side to side or front to back. This helps improve proprioception and shoulder stability.

Wall Angels

  • Stand with your back against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart, and your arms bent at 90 degrees with your elbows and wrists against the wall.
  • Slowly slide your arms upward, keeping your elbows and wrists in contact with the wall, until your arms are fully extended overhead.
  • Hold this position for a few seconds, then slowly lower your arms back down.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Prone Row

  • Lie face down on a bench or exercise mat with a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Start with your arms hanging straight down towards the floor, palms facing each other.
  • Keeping your elbows close to your sides, lift the dumbbells by squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Pause at the top of the movement, then slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.


  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, holding a light dumbbell in each hand.
  • Start with your arms by your sides and palms facing your thighs.
  • Raise your arms forward and upward at a 45-degree angle, stopping when your arms reach shoulder height.
  • Pause briefly, then slowly lower your arms back to the starting position.
  • Perform 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Procedure and Recommendations:

  • It is important to consult with a qualified physiotherapist or healthcare professional before initiating any exercise program for shoulder impingement.
  • Perform exercises in a pain-free range of motion. If any exercise causes discomfort, modify the movement or reduce the intensity.
  • Begin with a proper warm-up, such as gentle arm swings or light cardiovascular activity, to prepare the shoulder muscles for exercise.
  • Start with low resistance or intensity and gradually increase over time as tolerated.
  • Aim to perform exercises 2-3 times a week, allowing for adequate rest and recovery between sessions.
  • Proper form and technique are crucial for effectiveness and safety. If unsure about the correct technique, seek guidance from a physiotherapist.


Physiotherapy interventions, including manual therapy, stretching exercises, strengthening exercises, and neuromuscular control exercises, are essential in the management of shoulder impingement. These interventions help reduce pain, improve range of motion, strengthen the muscles around the shoulder joint, and enhance proprioception and neuromuscular control.


FAQS about physical therapy treatment of shoulder impingement

Can physiotherapy alone treat shoulder impingement, or is surgery necessary?

In many cases, shoulder impingement can be effectively managed with physiotherapy interventions and exercise programs. Surgery is typically reserved for cases where conservative treatments have not provided relief or when there is a significant structural abnormality. Your physiotherapist will assess your condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment approach.

How long does it take to see improvement with physiotherapy for shoulder impingement?

The timeline for improvement varies from person to person, depending on the severity of the impingement and individual factors. Some individuals may experience relief within a few weeks, while others may require several months of consistent physiotherapy and exercise to achieve significant improvement. Adherence to the recommended program and consistency in performing exercises are key for optimal results.

Are there any exercises that should be avoided during shoulder impingement?

Certain exercises may exacerbate shoulder impingement symptoms and should be avoided or modified. These typically include exercises that involve overhead movements or heavy lifting. Your physiotherapist will provide specific guidance on exercises to avoid and recommend alternative exercises that target shoulder strength and mobility without aggravating impingement.

Can I continue my regular activities and sports while undergoing physiotherapy for shoulder impingement?

It depends on the severity of your impingement and the demands of your activities or sports. Your physiotherapist will provide guidance on modifications or temporary restrictions to ensure that you can participate in activities without worsening your condition. It is important to communicate with your healthcare professional to develop a plan that allows for both recovery and continued participation in activities.

How frequently should I perform the recommended exercises for shoulder impingement?

Consistency is crucial for achieving positive outcomes. Generally, performing exercises for shoulder impingement 2-3 times per week is recommended. However, the specific frequency and duration of exercises may vary based on your individual needs and response to treatment. Your physiotherapist will provide personalized recommendations.

Is it normal to experience mild discomfort during exercises for shoulder impingement?

Mild discomfort during exercises is common, especially when initially starting a program or when progressing to more challenging exercises. However, pain should not be sharp or excessive. If you experience significant pain or your symptoms worsen during or after exercise, it is important to inform your physiotherapist. They can adjust your program to ensure it is safe and effective.

Can I continue Shoulder Impingement Physical Therapy treatment after my symptoms have resolved to prevent future shoulder impingement?

Absolutely! Continuing with a maintenance exercise program can help maintain shoulder strength, mobility, and prevent recurrence of impingement. Your physiotherapist can provide you with a personalized program that focuses on long-term shoulder health and injury prevention. Regular exercise and proper shoulder mechanics during daily activities can help sustain the benefits achieved through physiotherapy.

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