Yoga for Arm and Shoulder Pain

By Kristie Reilly @YourCareE
August 16, 2018

Taking a yoga break for a few minutes two or three times a day will help reduce arm, shoulder, and neck pain, lowering your stress and keeping you limber.

Sitting all day hunched at a desk or over our phones will create stiffness and soreness over time. Even the way we sleep can leave lingering neck and shoulder pain.

Taking a stretch break for a few minutes two or three times a day will help reduce arm, shoulder, and neck pain, lowering your stress level while keeping you limber. For simplicity’s sake, the below poses are described seated: try them at work or even in your car. You can also do them while standing.

If you have tightness in your forearm tendons, some of these stretches may be challenging. If that’s the case, perform them very gently and only to the degree that feels comfortable, working up to greater flexibility over time. Never push to the point of pain or strain.


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Seated pose. Sit up in your chair with feet flat on the floor and knees bent to a comfortable 90-degree angle. Take a deep breath and lift your shoulders up toward your ears. Then exhale, rolling your shoulders open, toward you back, and drop them down. Imagine a string gently pulling up at the top of your head, lifting your neck and head up and centering them in a neutral position over your shoulders, while keeping a gentle inward curve at your lower back. Relax your jaw, lips, eyes, and cheeks, and check to make sure your chin isn’t jutting forward over your chest. Breathe for a moment or two, palms resting on your thighs.

Straight-arm stretch. The tendons of the lower arms are often tight for those who spend a lot of time at a computer. Simply holding your arms out straight ahead a few times a day, as in this stretch, can do a lot to relieve pain and stiffness all the way from the palms, up the arms, and into the neck and shoulders.

Bring your arms straight out ahead of you at eye level, fingers splayed and palms facing the floor. You might feel a stretch at the inside curve of your elbow and down through the sides of your wrists. Hold for three breaths, then flip your palms so they face the sky. Go ahead and spend a few minutes exploring what these stretches feel like — notice how closing your fingers together with your palms facing up changes the stretch.

Forearm-tendon stretch. Keeping your arms held straight in front of you, bend your wrists toward the floor to your degree of comfort. Your fingers should face you. Gently rest thumbs against fingers, held straight on each hand. Now bring your wrists up in the opposite direction, palms facing away from you and fingers pointing to the sky. See how far you can move each wrist toward a 90-degree angle with your forearms without straining.

Raised-arm stretch. Next, raise your arms straight up overhead. Hold for three breaths, feeling a possible stretch at your sides and underarms and into your back and shoulders. To lengthen this stretch, lean to one side and then the other, and experiment with splaying your arms and fingers wide versus keeping your hands and fingers pressed together.

Prayer hands. Bring your palms and fingers together above your head, then slowly bend your elbows and bring your hands into a prayer position at your heart. If this is tough for your wrists, turn your hands so that your fingers are pointing downward, tops of hands resting against each other.

Eagle arms. This pose may seem difficult, but you might be amazed at the wrist and shoulder relief it brings over time. Cross your arms at your chest, resting one elbow inside the other. Your forearms will point up, making an X. Then bring the fingers of your lower hand to rest against the palm of your top arm, and work toward keeping your elbows at eye level in this position. If you can’t wrap your arms all the way around, simply cross your elbows, holding the forearms straight in the air. You’ll still receive a nice shoulder stretch. Breathe here for three breaths, then reverse your arms and perform the twist on the other side.

Mini backbend. Place both hands at the small of your back, palms facing your sacrum and fingers pointing up. Open your chest, bringing the shoulders wide, and gently let your head roll back as you come into a mini-backbend. If this is a challenge for your wrists, try facing your palms out, fingers pointing to the floor, or place your hands at or just behind your hips. You might also stretch your arms out behind you in a seated “flying” pose for a similar, gentler chest opener and stretch.


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April 08, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN