20 May 2024
Learn how to relieve shoulder soreness when waking up with simple tips and remedies. Say goodbye to morning aches and pains and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day!

If you find yourself waking up with a sore shoulder more often than not, we understand it can be quite a discomforting way to start your day. But fret not, because in this article, we’ve got your back. Literally! We will share some simple yet effective tips and remedies to help alleviate that pesky shoulder soreness and ensure you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day ahead. So say goodbye to those morning aches and pains, and let’s dive into the world of shoulder bliss.

How to Relieve Shoulder Soreness When Waking Up

Causes of Shoulder Soreness When Waking Up

Poor Sleeping Position

One of the main culprits behind shoulder soreness when waking up is a poor sleeping position. When you sleep in an uncomfortable position that puts excessive pressure on your shoulder joint, it can lead to pain and discomfort in the morning. The added strain on the muscles and ligaments surrounding the shoulder can result in soreness and stiffness.

Inadequate Pillow Support

Using an inadequate pillow or one that does not provide proper support for your neck and shoulder can also contribute to morning shoulder soreness. If your pillow is too flat or too high, it can lead to an unnatural position for your shoulder, causing pain and discomfort when you wake up. It is crucial to choose a pillow that aligns your spine and provides optimal support for your head, neck, and shoulders.

Muscle Imbalances

Muscle imbalances in the shoulder can result in soreness when waking up. When certain muscles are weaker or tighter than others, it can create an imbalance that affects the alignment and stability of the shoulder joint. This imbalance can lead to excess strain on certain muscles and joints while sleeping, causing soreness upon waking.

Stiffness and Tension

If you experience stiffness and tension in your shoulders before going to bed, it can carry over into your sleep and cause soreness when waking up. Factors such as stress, poor posture during the day, and lack of regular exercise can contribute to shoulder stiffness and tension. This can make it more difficult for your muscles and joints to relax during sleep, leading to discomfort in the morning.

Injury or Overuse

Shoulder soreness upon waking can also be a result of injury or overuse. If you have recently engaged in activities that require repetitive shoulder movements or have experienced a trauma or injury to the shoulder, it can lead to inflammation and pain. Overuse of the shoulder joint without giving it enough time to rest and recover can also contribute to soreness when waking up.

Preventing Shoulder Soreness

Choosing the Right Sleeping Position

To prevent shoulder soreness when waking up, it is essential to choose the right sleeping position. Sleeping on your back with a pillow that supports the natural curve of your neck and keeps your shoulder in a neutral position is generally recommended. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, as it can strain your neck and shoulder. If you prefer sleeping on your side, placing a pillow between your knees can help align your spine and relieve pressure on your shoulders.

Optimizing Pillow Support

Investing in a supportive pillow that provides adequate support for your head, neck, and shoulders is crucial to prevent shoulder soreness. Look for pillows that are specifically designed for neck and shoulder support, such as orthopedic or contour pillows. These pillows can help maintain proper alignment and reduce pressure on your shoulders while sleeping.

Maintaining Good Posture

Maintaining good posture throughout the day is another way to prevent shoulder soreness when waking up. Poor posture can lead to muscle imbalances and tension in the shoulders, which can carry over into your sleep. Be mindful of your posture while sitting, standing, and engaging in daily activities. Regularly stretching and strengthening exercises for your upper back and shoulders can also help improve posture and reduce the risk of soreness.

Regular Stretching and Mobility Exercises

Incorporating regular stretching and mobility exercises for your shoulders into your daily routine can help prevent soreness when waking up. Gentle stretches, such as shoulder rolls, cross-body arm stretches, and doorway stretches, can help improve flexibility and relieve tension in the shoulder muscles. Additionally, incorporating exercises that promote mobility, such as pendulum swings and wall angels, can help improve the range of motion in your shoulders and reduce the likelihood of waking up with soreness.

Avoiding Excessive Shoulder Strain

Avoiding excessive strain on your shoulders throughout the day can also help prevent shoulder soreness when waking up. Be mindful of how you use your shoulders during daily activities and try to minimize repetitive movements or heavy lifting that can put excessive stress on the joint. If you engage in activities that require repeated shoulder movements, take regular breaks and perform stretching exercises to alleviate any built-up tension.

How to Relieve Shoulder Soreness When Waking Up

Relieving Shoulder Soreness

Applying Heat or Cold Therapy

Applying heat or cold therapy to your sore shoulder can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Heat therapy, such as using a hot compress or taking a warm shower, can help relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area. Cold therapy, on the other hand, can help numb the area and reduce swelling. You can use a cold compress, ice pack, or even a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel to provide cold therapy to your shoulder.

Performing Gentle Shoulder Stretches

Gentle shoulder stretches can also help relieve shoulder soreness. Stretching exercises that target the muscles and tendons around the shoulder joint can help improve flexibility and reduce tension. Some effective stretches include shoulder rolls, cross-body arm stretches, and doorway stretches. These stretches should be performed gently and within a pain-free range of motion.

Using a Foam Roller or Massage Ball

Using a foam roller or massage ball can help release tension and reduce soreness in the shoulder muscles. Roll the foam roller or massage ball along the muscles in your shoulders and apply gentle pressure to areas that feel tight or sore. This self-massage technique can help increase blood flow and promote relaxation in the muscles, providing relief from shoulder soreness.

Practicing Shoulder Strengthening Exercises

Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder joint can help improve stability and reduce the risk of soreness. Shoulder strengthening exercises, such as shoulder retractions, external rotations, scapular push-ups, and resistance band exercises, can help target the muscles that support the shoulder joint. These exercises should be performed with proper form and gradually increased in intensity as your strength improves.

Seeking Professional Medical Assistance

If shoulder soreness persists despite home remedies and self-care techniques, it may be necessary to seek professional medical assistance. A healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist, chiropractor, or massage therapist, can provide a comprehensive assessment of your shoulder condition and recommend appropriate treatment options. In some cases, further medical intervention may be required, such as acupuncture or consultation with an orthopedic specialist.

Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Soreness

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are a simple and effective exercise to relieve shoulder soreness. Stand or sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Roll your shoulders slowly in a circular motion, first forward and then backward. Repeat this exercise for about 10-15 repetitions in each direction.

Cross-Body Arm Stretch

To perform a cross-body arm stretch, stand or sit up straight and extend one arm across your chest. Use your other arm to gently pull the extended arm closer to your body until you feel a stretch in your shoulder. Hold the stretch for about 30 seconds and then switch to the other arm. Repeat 2-3 times on each side.

Doorway Stretch

The doorway stretch is an excellent exercise to stretch the muscles in your shoulders and chest. Stand in a doorway and place your forearms on the door frame. Take a step forward, allowing the stretch to be felt across your chest and shoulders. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat 2-3 times.

Pendulum Swing

The pendulum swing exercise helps improve shoulder mobility and flexibility. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and bend forward at the hips. Allow your arm to hang down towards the ground and gently swing it in a circular motion. Perform 10-15 swings in each direction.

Wall Angels

Wall angels are a great exercise for strengthening the muscles in your shoulders and improving posture. Stand with your back against a wall and your arms bent at a 90-degree angle, with your elbows and wrists touching the wall. Slowly slide your arms up and down the wall, keeping contact with the wall at all times. Repeat for 10-15 reps.

How to Relieve Shoulder Soreness When Waking Up

Using Heat or Cold Therapy

Hot Compress

To use a hot compress, you can wet a towel with warm water or use a microwavable heating pad. Apply the compress to your sore shoulder for 15-20 minutes. The heat will help relax the muscles and increase blood flow to the area, providing relief from soreness.

Cold Compress

To make a cold compress, you can wrap ice cubes in a towel or use a reusable ice pack. Apply the cold compress to your shoulder for 15-20 minutes. The cold temperature will numb the area and reduce inflammation, helping to alleviate pain and soreness.

Alternating Heat and Cold

For some individuals, alternating between heat and cold therapy can be beneficial in relieving shoulder soreness. Start with a hot compress for 10-15 minutes, then switch to a cold compress for another 10-15 minutes. This contrast therapy can help promote circulation, reduce inflammation, and provide relief to the sore shoulder.

Self-Massaging Techniques

Using a Foam Roller

To use a foam roller for self-massage, position the foam roller on the floor and lie on your side with the sore shoulder facing up. Place the foam roller under your shoulder and gently roll your body back and forth, allowing the foam roller to massage the muscles in your shoulder. Apply as much pressure as feels comfortable and focus on any areas of tightness or soreness.

Massage Ball

A massage ball can also be used for self-massage on a sore shoulder. Stand against a wall and place the massage ball between your shoulder and the wall. Apply gentle pressure to the massage ball by leaning into the wall and move your shoulder in circular or back-and-forth motions to massage the sore muscles.

Self-Massage with Hands

Using your hands to massage the sore shoulder can provide targeted relief. Apply gentle pressure using your fingers, thumbs, or palm and use circular motions or long strokes to massage the muscles. Pay attention to areas of tension or soreness and continue massaging until you feel relief.

Shoulder Strengthening Exercises

Shoulder Retraction

To perform shoulder retractions, stand or sit up straight and relax your shoulders. Pinch your shoulder blades together as if you are trying to squeeze something between them. Hold this position for a few seconds and then release. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

External Rotation

Using a resistance band or a light dumbbell, perform external rotation exercises to strengthen the muscles in your shoulders. Hold the resistance band or dumbbell with your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your upper arm close to your body. Rotate your arm outward, keeping your elbow tucked in. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.

Scapular Push-ups

Scapular push-ups are a great exercise for strengthening the muscles in your upper back and shoulders. Start in a push-up position with your arms straight. Lower your chest towards the ground while keeping your arms straight and allowing your shoulder blades to retract. Push back up to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 reps.

Resistance Band Exercises

Using a resistance band, you can perform various exercises to target the muscles in your shoulders. These exercises can include shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises. Perform 10-15 repetitions of each exercise, gradually increasing the resistance as your strength improves.

Isometric Holds

Isometric holds involve contracting the muscles in your shoulders without any movement. To perform an isometric hold, start with your arms at your sides and slowly raise your shoulders towards your ears, contracting the muscles. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds and then relax. Repeat for several repetitions, gradually increasing the duration of the hold.

Seeking Professional Help


Physiotherapy can be beneficial for individuals experiencing persistent shoulder soreness. A physiotherapist can assess your shoulder condition, provide targeted exercises and stretches, and use various techniques such as massage, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and promote healing.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on adjustments and manipulations of the spine and joints to restore proper alignment and function. If shoulder soreness is caused by spinal misalignments or joint dysfunction, visiting a chiropractor may help alleviate pain and improve shoulder function.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help relax muscles, reduce tension, and increase blood flow to the sore shoulder. A licensed massage therapist can use various techniques, such as Swedish massage, deep tissue massage, or trigger point therapy, to target specific areas of discomfort and provide relief.


Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to restore balance and alleviate pain. When it comes to shoulder soreness, acupuncture can help reduce inflammation, promote circulation, and stimulate the body’s natural healing response.

Orthopedic Consultation

If shoulder soreness is severe, persistent, or accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it may be necessary to consult with an orthopedic specialist. An orthopedic doctor can provide a comprehensive evaluation, order diagnostic tests such as X-rays or MRI, and recommend advanced treatment options if necessary.

Tips for Better Sleep

Investing in a Good Mattress

A good mattress that provides adequate support and comfort for your body can contribute to better sleep and help prevent shoulder soreness. Look for a mattress that aligns your spine and distributes your body weight evenly. The ideal mattress firmness may vary depending on your personal preference and specific needs.

Using a Supportive Pillow

Utilizing a supportive pillow that keeps your head, neck, and shoulders in alignment is crucial for preventing shoulder soreness. Consider pillows made from memory foam or latex, as they can provide good support and contour to the shape of your head and neck. Experiment with different pillow sizes and shapes to find the one that works best for you.

Maintaining a Consistent Sleep Schedule

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve the quality of your sleep. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This can help promote better sleep hygiene and reduce the likelihood of waking up with shoulder soreness.

Creating a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

Establishing a relaxing bedtime routine can signal your body that it’s time to unwind and prepare for sleep. Engage in activities that promote relaxation, such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle stretching or meditation. Avoid stimulating activities, such as using electronic devices or consuming caffeine, close to bedtime.

Setting Up a Comfortable Sleep Environment

Creating a comfortable sleep environment can contribute to better sleep quality and prevent shoulder soreness. Ensure that your bedroom is quiet, dark, and at a comfortable temperature. Use blackout curtains or an eye mask to block out any light, and consider using earplugs or a white noise machine to drown out any noise that may disrupt your sleep.

When to See a Doctor

Persistent and Intense Pain

If you experience persistent and intense shoulder pain that does not improve with self-care measures, it is important to seek medical attention. This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that requires proper diagnosis and treatment.

Limited Range of Motion

If your shoulder soreness is accompanied by limited range of motion, such as difficulty raising your arms or moving them in certain directions, it may indicate a more significant issue. Consult with a healthcare professional to determine the cause of your limited range of motion and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

Signs of Inflammation

If your shoulder appears swollen, red, or warm to the touch, it could be a sign of inflammation. Inflammation can be caused by various conditions, including infections, bursitis, or tendinitis. Seeking medical attention is essential to identify the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

Numbness or Tingling

Shoulder soreness accompanied by numbness or tingling in your arms or hands could indicate nerve compression or damage. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to assess the condition and determine the appropriate course of action.

Chronic Shoulder Issues

If you have a history of chronic shoulder issues or recurring shoulder soreness, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. Chronic shoulder problems may require a more comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your specific condition.

In conclusion, shoulder soreness when waking up can have various causes, including poor sleeping positions, inadequate pillow support, muscle imbalances, stiffness and tension, and injury or overuse. However, there are plenty of preventative measures, exercises, and self-care techniques that can help alleviate and prevent shoulder soreness. By choosing the right sleeping position, optimizing pillow support, maintaining good posture, performing regular stretching and mobility exercises, and avoiding excessive shoulder strain, you can minimize the likelihood of waking up with shoulder soreness. Additionally, utilizing heat or cold therapy, practicing self-massaging techniques, performing shoulder strengthening exercises, and seeking professional medical assistance when necessary can provide relief and promote healing. Remember to prioritize good sleep habits, such as investing in a good mattress, using a supportive pillow, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a relaxing bedtime routine, and setting up a comfortable sleep environment. Should your shoulder soreness persist or worsen or be accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and appropriate treatment.

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