Taking Control of Your Shoulder Pain: A Guide to Effective Rehab Exercises for Subacromial Impingement Syndrome

Todd Lloyd
May 1, 2023

Shoulder pain can be a frustrating and limiting experience, affecting your daily life and activities. If you're suffering from subacromial impingement syndrome (SAIS), a common cause of shoulder pain, it's essential to know that you have the power to take control of your recovery. As a chiropractor who is passionate about rehabilitation, I'm here to guide you through an effective exercise program to help alleviate your pain and improve your shoulder function.

In this blog post, we'll explore a recent study that compares two different types of progressive resistance exercises (PREs) for treating SAIS, providing you with evidence-based guidance to make informed decisions about your rehab. With about five H2 headings, this comprehensive post will empower you to take charge of your rehab journey.

Understanding Subacromial Impingement Syndrome (SAIS)

Before diving into the exercises, let's quickly cover what SAIS is and how it affects your shoulder. SAIS occurs when the tendons of the rotator cuff muscles become compressed or pinched between the bones of the shoulder joint. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and limited range of motion. Common symptoms of SAIS include pain when lifting your arm overhead or behind your back, weakness in the shoulder, and difficulty performing daily activities.

Eccentric vs. Concentric Exercises: What's the Difference?

To better understand the study we'll be discussing, it's essential to know the difference between eccentric and concentric exercises.

Eccentric exercises involve lengthening the muscle while it's under tension. For example, when you're slowly lowering a dumbbell during a bicep curl, you're performing an eccentric contraction of the biceps muscle. Eccentric exercises have been shown to be effective in treating various tendinopathies, leading to increased strength, tendon collagen synthesis, and neuromuscular activation.

Concentric exercises, on the other hand, involve shortening the muscle while it's under tension. Using the same bicep curl example, when you're lifting the dumbbell towards your shoulder, you're performing a concentric contraction of the biceps muscle.

The Study: Eccentric vs. Concentric PREs for SAIS

The study we're discussing compared the effectiveness of eccentric and concentric progressive resistance exercises (PREs) in adults with SAIS. The participants were divided into two groups, with one group performing eccentric-based exercises and the other performing concentric-based exercises for eight weeks.

The results of the study revealed that both groups experienced significant improvements in function, range of motion, and strength. However, there was no significant difference found between the two exercise modes, meaning that eccentric exercises were not found to be more effective than concentric exercises for treating SAIS.

Designing Your SAIS Rehab Program

Now that you know that both eccentric and concentric exercises can be effective in treating SAIS, it's time to design a rehab program tailored to your needs. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  1. Warm-up: Start with a gentle warm-up to increase blood flow and prepare your muscles for the exercises. This can include light cardiovascular activities such as walking, cycling, or using an elliptical machine for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Range of Motion (ROM) exercises: Begin by incorporating ROM exercises to help improve your shoulder flexibility. Examples of ROM exercises include shoulder circles, pendulum swings, and wall slides.
  3. Strengthening exercises: Gradually introduce both eccentric and concentric strengthening exercises targeting the rotator cuff and scapular muscles. Examples of these exercises include:
  • External rotation with a resistance band (concentric)
  • Internal rotation with a resistance band (concentric)
  • Side-lying dumbbell external rotation (eccentric)
  • Standing dumbbell lateral raise (eccentric)
  1. Progression: As you start to regain strength and mobility in your shoulder, gradually increase the intensity and resistance of your exercises. Remember to listen to your body and progress at a pace that's comfortable for you.
  2. Stretching and cool-down: Finish your rehab session with gentle stretching exercises to help maintain flexibility and prevent muscle soreness. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds, focusing on the muscles around your shoulder, neck, and upper back.

Tips for a Successful Rehab Journey

  1. Consistency is key: Stick to a regular rehab schedule, ideally performing your exercises 3-5 times a week. Consistency will help you achieve the best results and prevent your symptoms from worsening.
  2. Monitor your pain: While some discomfort during rehab exercises is normal, be mindful of your pain levels. If any exercise causes sharp pain, stop immediately and consult your healthcare provider.
  3. Stay patient and positive: Recovery can take time, and it's essential to stay patient with your progress. Celebrate the small victories along the way and maintain a positive mindset throughout your rehab journey.

Take Control of Your Shoulder Pain Today

You don't have to let shoulder pain control your life. By understanding the benefits of both eccentric and concentric exercises for SAIS, you can take charge of your rehab and work towards a pain-free, functional shoulder.

If you're unsure where to start or need guidance in creating a personalized rehab program, don't hesitate to reach out for professional help. As a chiropractor passionate about rehabilitation, I'm here to support you on your journey to recovery.

Medical Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise program or making changes to your current treatment plan.


Both eccentric and concentric PREs have been shown to be effective in improving function, range of motion, and strength in patients with SAIS. By incorporating a balanced rehab program that includes both types of exercises, you can take control of your shoulder pain and work towards a healthier, more functional shoulder. Remember to consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance and support throughout your rehab journey.

Todd Lloyd
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