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Exercises for Shoulder Bursitis

By Curt Fletcher

Shoulder bursitis is caused by inflammation to the bursa sac. The bursa sac is the buffer zone between the bone and tendon and is filled with fluid. Shoulder bursitis is typically accompanied by pain and an aching feeling. This occurs when the bursa sac becomes filled with too much fluid or is inflamed. When this painful feeling is gone, it's important to rebuild strength in the area and stretch the tendons. To do this effectively, perform a series of rehabilitation exercises.

Range of Motion Exercise

Range of motion exercises involve a series of movements designed to stretch the tendons. Begin by standing up tall and shrug the shoulders up. Lift them up as high as you can without straining or lifting the arms. Hold the position for five seconds. The next exercise is to squeeze the shoulders backward. Push them back as far as possible as though you are trying to make them touch. Hold this back position for five seconds. With the next motion, push the shoulder blades back and down. When you feel the tendons stretching, stop and hold the position for another five-second period. After all three range of motion exercises are completed in succession, relax for a couple seconds and then begin again. Do this routine 10 times in a row.

Resisted Shoulder External Rotation

This exercise improves shoulder rotation. Stand up tall and place your arms at your sides. Slowly raise the arms up to eye level. When lifting them, keep the arms spread at a 30-degree angle from the front of the body. Be certain to keep the arms extended straight through the entire lift. Place your thumbs pointing toward the ceiling. Once you reach the desired eye level height, hold the arms in place for two full seconds and then lower back down utilizing a slow motion. Do three sets of 10 arm raises.


This exercise will require the aid of a door for support. Stand up in a position that places you next to a door. Wrap the hand that is furthest from the door across the belly and grab onto the tubing that connects the doorknob. The arm should be located at hip level. With the other arm, hold the elbow at your side and bend the arm at a 90-degree angle from the elbow. Rotate this arm slowly away from the body. The forearm of the moving arm should be parallel to the floor throughout the movement. Rotate the arm as far away from the waist as possible until you feel stretching in the upper arm and shoulder. Do three sets of 10 repetitions.

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