Shoulder tendonosis is commonly called tendonitis, but there is a distinction between the two. A diagnosis of tendonitis indicates an acute injury that results in inflammation of the tendons. In the case of the shoulder, the affected tendons are those that surround the rotator cuff. Tendonosis, on the other hand, generally refers to a chronic injury, often the result of incomplete healing from an earlier acute injury. It can cause pain and immobility, so gentle stretching and careful exercise is recommended to increase range of motion and reduce pain.
Injuries to the tendon cause the tissue to contract, so restoring proper range of motion requires frequent and gentle stretching. The overhead stretch is a mild exercise for those still feeling the pain associated with acute tendinitis or chronic tendonosis.
Lie flat on your back. A solid surface is best, but a firm mattress works as well. Raise the affected arm straight above you, perpendicular to your body. Just raising the arm stretches the tendons, but if possible, reach across your body with the other hand and grasp the elbow of the outstretched arm. Pull gently, further stretching the injured shoulder. Use a smooth pulling motion and hold it for 10 seconds at a time. Don’t pull quickly and release.
The cross-body stretch applies lateral pressure to the injured tendons, complementing the overhead stretch that pulls the tendons along their length. Stand and hold the injured arm out to your side, level with the ground and perpendicular to your body. Swing the arm inward, keeping it level, until it is extended straight in front of you. When you reach this position, use your opposite hand to grasp the elbow of the injured arm and pull it across your body. Again, use a slow, gentle pulling motion and hold it for 10 seconds at a time, pulling farther as you regain mobility.
Lie flat on your stomach on a surface that allows the free motion of an overhanging arm. A weight bench is perfect for the pendulum exercise, but lying on the edge of a bed or massage table is also acceptable.
Let the affected arm dangle freely over the edge of the bed or bench. Gently swing the arm back and forth in an arc of at least 15 degrees to start. Increase the arc to 35 to 40 degrees as pain allows. Isolate the shoulder muscles in the movement as much as possible. It is natural to use the neck to support the body and push the shoulder. Try to keep the neck and chest relaxed.