Pain in the upper arm can be, well, a real pain in the upper arm. Your suffering could be anything from localized muscle fatigue, to radiating pain from a nearby joint or muscle. The point is, there are lots of possible explanations for your pain. After pin-pointing the reason for your pain, you could benefit from an exercise routine consisting of gentle movement, strengthening and stretching.
Assessing Your Pain
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Some of the most common reasons for upper-arm pain include sprains or strains, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis or fibromyalgia. If you have pain and you don’t know the cause, you better go see a doctor. Once you and your doctor have determined the cause of your pain, your doctor will likely suggest a period of rest with icing or heat, depending on the issue. After you’ve gotten plenty of rest and once you've received your doctor’s approval, a gentle exercise and stretching program could help you recover from your upper-arm pain.
Gently moving your arms can help build range of motion in your joints, and help you warm up to prepare for strengthening and stretching. For a fun way to bring movement to your arms, come to a standing position and bend from the hips. Allow one arm to dangle toward the ground. Begin to move your hips and torso in a circle. From your body’s movement, your arm will begin to sway in a circle. Do not move your arm; allow the movement to occur. After a moment, move your body the other direction. Repeat on the other side. As you get stronger, you can add a small hand weight to this exercise.
Pushups can give you buff triceps and pectoral muscles, and help strengthen the muscles that support your shoulders. However, until the pain in your upper arm is gone, try wall pushups instead. Stand facing a wall. Extend your arms in front of you. Place your palms on the wall at shoulder height and shoulder distance apart. Walk your feet away from the wall so you're leaning on your hands. Draw your shoulder blades together and begin to bend your elbows. Slowly lower your chest toward the wall. Press yourself back to a starting position. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times.
Stretching can help build flexibility in your muscles and supple joints. For a good, old-fashioned stretch, stand or sit in an upright position. Lift your right arm at shoulder height and bring it across your body to your left. Face your palm toward the wall behind you. Place your left hand on your right upper arm to gently draw your right arm closer to your body. Hold for three to five breaths and then repeat on the other side. Next, lift your right arm straight up, bend your elbow and reach your right hand down your back. Use your left hand to gently press down on your right elbow. Hold for three to five breaths and repeat on the other side.
- Mayo Clinic: Arm Pain, Causes
- UW Medicine, Orthopedic and Sports Medicine: Bursitis, Tendinitis, and Other Soft Tissue Rheumatic Syndromes
- Harvard Health Publications: Tendonitis
- Mayo Clinic: Rotator Cuff Injury, Definition
- Synergy Health and Wellbeing Clinic: Shoulder Exercises
- Yoga Anatomy; Leslie Kaminof
- ACE: Exercise Library/Overhead Triceps Stretch
Shawnee Randolph is a yoga teacher and writer in Salem, Ore. She holds a Bachelor's degree in English: journalism from Corban University, and completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training at Heartsong Yoga in Beaverton, Ore.