How Do I Rest My Shoulder?

Shoulder injures, ranging from a rotator cuff tear to bursitis or an impingement of the nearby muscles, can cause extreme pain. The first step to healing a shoulder injury is rest. Depending on the injury, shoulder rest can mean complete immobilization for a period of time, or just a break from the heavy weight-bearing activities that may have contributed to your overuse injury--called active rest. Consult your physician to determine what specific treatment you will need to rest your shoulder.

Reduce the inflammation in your shoulder joint as part of your resting phase. The NYU Medical Center’s Harkness Center for Dance Injuries recommends icing your shoulder and taking a pain reliever, as well as refraining from strenuous activity. The combination of ice, medication and rest can reduce swelling and help your body heal.

How to Treat a Rotator Cuff Injury at Home

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Wear a broad arm sling to keep your shoulder still for a few days if the simple act of walking around is causing you a great deal of shoulder pain. A broad arm sling keep your affected arm still against your chest and will keep your shoulder immobile. Resting your shoulder in this way is often a first-line treatment method for rotator cuff injuries, according to Merck Manuals.

Refrain from extending your arms fully above your head while you experience shoulder pain. The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests “active rest” as a coping mechanism to relieve pain that stems from a shoulder injury. Active rest means going about your daily life and moving your shoulder normally without performing heavy lifting or sports-related exercises that will strain your shoulder more.


Ask your doctor to refer you to a physical therapist for persistent shoulder injuries that do not seem to completely resolve themselves. A physical therapist can teach you range-of-motion exercises that can strengthen your weakened muscles and help prevent future injury.