How to Treat a Sore Shoulder

A sore shoulder can be caused by bone spurs, cartilage or tendon tears, weakened muscles or tendon bursitis, according to Duke Health. By keeping your shoulders strong and mobile, you can manage shoulder soreness. When you do feel the onset of shoulder pain, however, it's important to have the right tactics in place to fix the issue as soon as possible.

Step 1

Rest for at least 48 hours. The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases recommends giving your shoulder at least 48 hours of complete rest. This ensures you don't aggravate the muscle or joint and inflict further damage.

Step 2

Apply ice to the affected area by either wrapping a bag of ice or frozen vegetables in a towel and hold it there or using a specially designed ice pack. Apply light pressure for 15 to 20 minutes at a time before taking a break. A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug can also help relieve pain and reduce swelling, according to

Step 3

Visit your doctor. If the soreness has not subsided after 48 hours or it is worse, make an appointment with your health care provider. The soreness may be due to something more serious, which could require medical attention.

Step 4

Implement exercises into your training plan to help strengthen the shoulder joint and muscles and prevent further injuries. These should only be performed after a consultation with your doctor or a physical therapist and once you've been given the all clear so the exercising won't exacerbate an injury.

Step 5

Perform double the amount of pulling exercises as pushing ones. Pulling exercises include any type of rowing movement, such as dumbbell, cable, barbell or machine rows, chinups and pull-downs. Pressing exercises include pushups, dips, chest presses and shoulder presses. Doing too much pushing and not enough pulling can cause shoulder imbalances and heighten your risk of injury, notes strength coach Eric Cressey in "Maximum Strength." For every pushing exercise, perform two pulls.

Step 6

Attach a resistance band to an upright structure and stand to the right of it in a side-on position. Hold the band in your right hand with directly in front of your mid-section and with your elbow tucked into your side. Pull the band toward your right side as far as you can. Use a slow and controlled tempo and perform 10 to 15 repetitions, then face the other way and do the same with your left side. These strengthen your rotator cuff muscles that support the shoulder. Add in three sets after each weight-training workout.


Muscular soreness can be caused by a breakdown of muscle tissue, so don't panic if both shoulders feel sore for a few days after starting back at the gym after a lay-off, or when switching to a new training routine.


Always consult a medical professional when you injure any muscle or joint and don't attempt to cure the issue yourself.

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