Shoulder Impingement

Shoulder impingement is a relatively common injury, and although shoulder impingement can be painful and debilitating, it can improve pretty rapidly with the right amount of rest and the right active rehab plan. Shoulder impingement affects people of all ages, and it’s often referred to as swimmer’s shoulder – but you can become affected in a variety of ways.

Shoulder Impingement


Shoulder impingement is a relatively common injury, and although shoulder impingement can be painful and debilitating, it can improve pretty rapidly with the right amount of rest and the right active rehab plan. Shoulder impingement affects people of all ages, and it’s often referred to as swimmer’s shoulder – but you can become affected in a variety of ways.




Shoulder impingement is a relatively common injury, and although shoulder impingement can be painful and debilitating, it can improve pretty rapidly with the right amount of rest and the right active rehab plan. Shoulder impingement affects people of all ages, and it’s often referred to as swimmer’s shoulder – but you can become affected in a variety of ways. In this quick article, we’ll look at how shoulder impingement occurs, what you can do to speed up recovery, and examine what’s going on inside your body when an injury happens.


What exactly is Shoulder Impingement?


Shoulder impingement, also known as impingement syndrome, is a relatively common complaint that affects many Canadians. It occurs in an area called the rotator cuff, which is a muscle group situated where your upper arm bone meets your shoulder. These muscles are employed in lifting or turning your arm. When there’s an impingement, the rotator cuff contacts or rubs on the top of your shoulder, so it hurts when you try to lift the affected limb.


What are the symptoms of Shoulder Impingement?


The primary symptom of shoulder impingement is a sharp, immediate pain in your shoulder whenever you attempt to lift your arms overhead or behind you. You may also have consistent, lesser pain in your arm, pain that runs around the front of your shoulder and down the side of your arm, and any associated pain often get worse during the night with a rotator cuff injury. Many people who experience shoulder impingement also feel like their arm is weaker, and long-term damage without treatment can lead to significant muscle wastage in the affected limb.


What causes Shoulder Impingement?


Repetitive strain or usage can cause shoulder impingement. It happens when the tendons in your shoulder swell and impact the bone on the top of your shoulder, which is called an acromion. You can also develop a shoulder impingement through injury, such as when you have a bad fall or go into a tackle hard while playing football. The condition is often referred to as swimmer’s shoulder because sports and tasks that involve using your shoulders strenuously can result in problems:


  • Tennis

  • Baseball

  • Swimming

  • Heavy lifting 


How do I treat shoulder impingement at home?


It’s important to get timely treatment if you think you may have a shoulder impingement, as the injury won’t always go away on its own. However, there are things you can do yourself at home while you recover: 


  • Rest is one of the most fundamental ways to recover from an injury like shoulder impingement, and it’s vital to stay clear of any strenuous work, sport, or activity that irritates the area.  

  • You can use ice to reduce inflammation a few times a day, but limit that to fifteen-minute sessions. 

  • Remember, don’t immobilize your shoulder entirely during recovery. You don’t need a sling, and you should move as much as you can so long as it doesn’t cause pain.


How long does it take to recover from Shoulder Impingement?


Shoulder impingement isn’t by any means an overnight fix. In the best-case scenario, it can take up to six months but can also happen as quickly as three months. In acute cases, it can take a full twelve months for your shoulder to fully heal. However, you can start active rehab within a few weeks of the injury occurring, and active rehabilitation for shoulder impingement will speed up the healing process considerably.


Port Moody Active Rehab for Shoulder Impingement


Shoulder impingement typically responds exceptionally well to active rehab, which starts with gentle exercises designed to promote strength and increase your range of motion without causing pain. 


While it’s vital not to aggravate your injury and rest during recovery, active rehab for shoulder impingement will promote mobility, blood flow, and healing. Your therapist will likely give you some simple but effective exercises you can do at home, too:


  1. Standing with your arms at your sides, palms faced forward, squeeze your shoulder blades together for ten seconds at a time. Do a few reps. 

  2. Standing in a doorway with your limb just below the height of your shoulder, hold the frame and then turn your upper body away until you can feel a little stretch. Hold that pose for several seconds.

  3. Lying on your ‘good side,’ bend your injured arm at a right angle to your body, keeping the elbow on your hip. Then, rotate the lower part of your arm up upward. Do twenty reps.


It’s important to only carry on with exercises if they don’t cause any pain. If they do, stop immediately and discuss what happened with your active rehab therapist.


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Inspine Therapy is a multi-disciplinary clinic located in the heart of Port Moody. We care about providing fundamental healing through all-in-one care that focuses on helping you recover, improve, and optimize your health until you're in the best condition possible. 

Our services include massage therapy, chiropractic therapy, acupuncture, active rehab, clinical counselling, and pilates. Visit our newly renovated clinic and book your appointment today!