24 May 2024
Learn how to relieve shoulder stiffness in the morning with simple techniques. Say goodbye to pain and discomfort, and start your day pain-free!

Are you tired of waking up with a stiff and achy shoulder in the morning? Well, fret no more! We have just the solution for you. In this article, we will provide you with simple yet effective techniques to relieve shoulder stiffness and start your day pain-free. So, say goodbye to those unpleasant mornings and hello to a more relaxed and flexible shoulder. Let’s get started on your journey to a better morning routine!

How to Relieve Shoulder Stiffness in the Morning

Causes of Shoulder Stiffness in the Morning

Frozen Shoulder

One possible cause of shoulder stiffness in the morning is a condition known as frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis. This condition occurs when the shoulder joint becomes inflamed and scar tissue forms, restricting its movement. The stiffness is often worse in the morning and may improve throughout the day.

Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

Rotator cuff tendinitis is another common cause of shoulder stiffness in the morning. This condition occurs when the tendons in the rotator cuff become inflamed or irritated, often due to overuse or repetitive motions. The stiffness is often accompanied by pain and may be worsened by certain positions or activities.


Osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease, can also contribute to shoulder stiffness in the morning. This condition occurs when the cartilage in the shoulder joint breaks down, causing pain, stiffness, and reduced range of motion. The stiffness is typically worse after periods of inactivity, such as during sleep.

Impingement Syndrome

Impingement syndrome occurs when the bones or soft tissues in the shoulder joint rub against each other, causing irritation and inflammation. This can lead to shoulder stiffness, pain, and difficulty moving the arm. The stiffness is often more pronounced in the morning and may improve with gentle movement throughout the day.

Preventive Measures to Reduce Shoulder Stiffness

Maintain Good Posture

One important preventive measure to reduce shoulder stiffness is to maintain good posture. Slouching or hunching over can put unnecessary strain on the shoulder joints, leading to stiffness and discomfort. By sitting and standing up straight, you can help distribute the weight evenly and relieve pressure on the shoulders.

Avoid Overhead Activities

Avoiding overhead activities that require lifting or reaching above shoulder height can help prevent shoulder stiffness. These activities can put strain on the shoulder joints and exacerbate any existing inflammation or irritation. If possible, try to find alternative ways to perform these tasks or ask for assistance.

Practice Shoulder Strengthening Exercises

Regularly engaging in shoulder strengthening exercises can help prevent stiffness and improve the stability of the shoulder joints. Exercises such as shoulder presses, lateral raises, and rows can help strengthen the muscles surrounding the shoulder, reducing the risk of overuse injuries and stiffness.

Use Proper Ergonomics

Proper ergonomics in your daily activities can help reduce shoulder stiffness. Whether you’re sitting at a desk, using a computer, or lifting heavy objects, it’s important to maintain proper body alignment and use the appropriate tools or equipment. This can help minimize strain on the shoulders and prevent stiffness.

How to Relieve Shoulder Stiffness in the Morning

Exercises to Relieve Shoulder Stiffness

Pendulum Exercise

The pendulum exercise is a simple exercise that can help relieve shoulder stiffness. Stand with your unaffected arm resting on a table or chair for support. Gently lean forward and let the affected arm dangle. Slowly swing the arm back and forth, side to side, and in circles to encourage gentle movement and relieve stiffness.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The shoulder blade squeeze exercise targets the muscles of the upper back and helps improve posture and relieve shoulder stiffness. Sit or stand with your arms relaxed at your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for a few seconds before releasing. Repeat several times to help reduce stiffness.

Rotator Cuff Strengthening

Strengthening the rotator cuff muscles can help improve stability and reduce shoulder stiffness. Exercises such as external rotations, internal rotations, and scapular retractions can be performed using resistance bands or light dumbbells. Start with lower weights and gradually increase as your strength improves.

Doorway Stretch

The doorway stretch is a great exercise for stretching the muscles and tendons in the shoulders. Stand in a doorway with your arms outstretched and resting against the doorframe. Slowly lean forward, allowing your body to stretch gently. Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds and repeat several times to help alleviate shoulder stiffness.

Self-Care Techniques for Shoulder Stiffness

Apply Heat or Cold Packs

Applying heat or cold packs to the affected shoulder can help reduce inflammation and relieve stiffness. Use a heating pad or a warm towel for 15-20 minutes to promote blood flow and relax the muscles. Alternatively, applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth for 10-15 minutes can help numb the area and reduce swelling.

Use Topical Analgesics

Topical analgesics, such as creams or ointments containing ingredients like menthol or capsaicin, can provide temporary relief from shoulder stiffness. These products work by numbing the area and reducing pain and discomfort. Follow the instructions on the packaging for proper application and use.

Take Over-the-Counter Medications

Over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation and alleviate shoulder stiffness. Common NSAIDs include ibuprofen and naproxen. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging and consult with a healthcare professional if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking other medications.

Rest and Avoid Overexertion

Resting the affected shoulder and avoiding overexertion can help prevent further irritation and reduce stiffness. If you’re experiencing shoulder stiffness, take breaks from activities that aggravate the symptoms and give your shoulder time to rest and recover. This can aid in the healing process and prevent further complications.

How to Relieve Shoulder Stiffness in the Morning

When to Seek Medical Attention

Persistent Pain or Stiffness

If you experience persistent pain or stiffness in your shoulder, it’s important to seek medical attention. This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition that requires further evaluation and treatment.

Loss of Movement

If you notice a significant loss of movement in your shoulder, such as being unable to lift your arm or rotate it properly, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional. This could indicate a structural issue or injury that needs prompt medical attention.

Difficulty Sleeping

Shoulder stiffness that affects your ability to sleep can have a significant impact on your quality of life. If you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping due to shoulder stiffness, it’s recommended to seek medical advice for appropriate management.

Injury or Trauma

If your shoulder stiffness is the result of a recent injury or trauma, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention. This could involve a fracture, dislocation, or other severe damage that requires prompt evaluation and treatment.

Medical Treatments for Shoulder Stiffness

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a common treatment for shoulder stiffness. A physical therapist can develop a personalized exercise program to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion in the shoulder. They may also use other modalities such as manual therapy, ultrasound, or electrical stimulation to help reduce stiffness and promote healing.

Corticosteroid Injections

Corticosteroid injections may be recommended for more severe cases of shoulder stiffness. These injections help reduce inflammation and provide temporary relief from pain and stiffness. However, they should be used judiciously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as their long-term use can have side effects.

Arthroscopic Surgery

In cases where conservative treatments fail to alleviate shoulder stiffness, arthroscopic surgery may be considered. This minimally invasive procedure involves making small incisions in the shoulder and using a camera and specialized tools to treat the underlying cause of the stiffness, such as removing scar tissue or repairing damaged structures.

Joint Replacement

In severe cases of shoulder stiffness caused by conditions like osteoarthritis, joint replacement surgery may be necessary. This involves removing the damaged joint surfaces and replacing them with artificial components. Shoulder joint replacement can greatly improve range of motion, reduce pain, and alleviate stiffness.

Natural Remedies for Shoulder Stiffness

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils, such as lavender, peppermint, and eucalyptus, may help alleviate shoulder stiffness when used topically. Dilute a few drops of the essential oil in a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and gently massage it onto the affected area for soothing relief.

Hot Compress

Applying a hot compress to the shoulder can help relax the muscles and relieve stiffness. Use a hot water bottle or a warm towel and apply it to the affected area for 15-20 minutes. Be cautious not to use excessive heat that could cause burns.


Turmeric, a spice with anti-inflammatory properties, may help reduce the inflammation and stiffness associated with shoulder stiffness. Incorporate turmeric into your diet by adding it to your meals or consider taking a turmeric supplement after consulting with a healthcare professional.

Epsom Salt Soak

Taking an Epsom salt soak can help relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and relieve shoulder stiffness. Add a cup or two of Epsom salt to warm bathwater and soak your shoulder for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy the calming effect and let the salt do its magic.

How to Modify Daily Activities to Reduce Shoulder Stiffness

Avoid Carrying Heavy Items

Carrying heavy items, such as backpacks or groceries, can strain the shoulder joints and exacerbate stiffness. Whenever possible, distribute the weight evenly or ask for assistance with heavy lifting to avoid putting excessive strain on the shoulders.

Use Proper Lifting Techniques

Using proper lifting techniques can help minimize stress on the shoulders and reduce the risk of stiffness. Bend at the knees and lift with your legs rather than your back and shoulders. Keep the object close to your body and avoid twisting or jerking motions.

Modify Sleeping Position

Modifying your sleeping position can also help reduce shoulder stiffness in the morning. Avoid sleeping on the affected shoulder and consider using a supportive pillow or mattress that provides proper alignment and cushioning for the shoulders. Experiment with different positions to find what works best for you.

Practice Stress Reduction Techniques

Stress can contribute to muscle tension and exacerbate shoulder stiffness. Incorporating stress reduction techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga, can help relax the muscles and alleviate stiffness.

Importance of Stretching and Warm-Up Exercises

Range-of-Motion Exercises

Range-of-motion exercises are essential for maintaining flexibility and reducing shoulder stiffness. These exercises involve moving the shoulder joint through its full range of motion in a controlled manner. Examples include shoulder circles, arm swings, and shoulder rolls.

Arm Circles

Arm circles are a simple warm-up exercise that can help loosen up the muscles and joints in the shoulders. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, extend your arms straight out to the sides, and make small circles with your arms. Gradually increase the size of the circles and reverse the direction.

Neck and Shoulder Stretches

Neck and shoulder stretches can help relieve tension and stiffness in the upper body. Gently tilt your head to one side and hold for a few seconds, then repeat on the other side. For the shoulders, cross one arm over your chest and gently pull it closer to your body with your other arm.

Full Body Warm-Up

Performing a full body warm-up before engaging in physical activities can help prepare the muscles and joints, including the shoulders, for movement. Incorporate exercises that target different muscle groups, such as jogging, jumping jacks, or dynamic stretches, to increase blood flow and warm up the body.


Shoulder stiffness in the morning can be caused by various factors, including conditions like frozen shoulder, rotator cuff tendinitis, osteoarthritis, and impingement syndrome. However, there are preventive measures, exercises, self-care techniques, and medical treatments that can help alleviate stiffness and improve shoulder function. By maintaining good posture, avoiding overexertion, practicing shoulder strengthening exercises, and using proper ergonomics, you can reduce the risk of shoulder stiffness. Additionally, incorporating stretching and warm-up exercises, modifying daily activities, and practicing self-care techniques can provide relief. If symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to seek medical attention for proper evaluation and treatment. With a comprehensive approach, you can effectively manage shoulder stiffness and maintain optimal shoulder health.

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