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November 2019 Blog: How strong are your arms?

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Realising the limitations of one’s body, can often come as a shock.  “Why can’t I do that anymore?” or “Why is that now painful?” can needle their way into our lives. For me  these questions relate to the strength of my arms (or rather the lack of) that has come as my rude awakening.


Annoyingly this has culminated in a very painful right elbow and niggly left shoulder which has stopped me playing tennis, limited my gardening activities and has lead me to gritting my teeth with one or two essential daily movements.


That’s the situation.

This is the resolution: graded strengthening of my arm and shoulder muscles in addition to associated muscle stretches.

Modified press up for shoulder pain and strengthening

Resolution number one:

Squeeze buttocks to keep hips over knees

Lower head to the floor between your thumbs


Feel work in triceps (muscles at back of upper arms)




single arm triceps for arm strengthResolution number two

Lying on back, weight in one hand

Lift and lower arm. Repeat

While in this position stretch fronts of arms as a separate exercise.

Reach arms apart while dropping shoulders ribs and breast bone back into the floor

Feel work in triceps (muscles at back of upper arms)


Strengthen arm and shoulder exercise

Resolution number three

Thread one arm across body (between opposite arm and leg)

Keep shoulder away from ear and elbow bent on “leaning” arm

Feel work in triceps (muscles at back of upper arms) and back of chest wall

Alternate left and right.




Two arm triceps for shoulder and arm strengthening

Resolution number four

 Lying on back hold weight in both hands, elbows straight reaching arms to ceiling.

Bend elbows to move weight towards head.

Feel work in triceps (muscles at back of upper arms)





I do these exercises twice a day most days. The number of repetitions and the degree to which my arms and body moves, varies depending on how sore my shoulder and elbow feel. I NEVER move into pain which means on some days the movement is REALLY small and the number of repetitions is REALLY low.

I’ve got over the pity party bit by telling myself this is a process not a one hit wonder remedy. Every time I do my exercises I know I am building up the reserves of strength and flexibility I need to replace the obvious deficit. I don’t measure my progress only by the degree of pain I feel.

I reflect on how many more repetitions of the exercises I can do, how freely I can move my arm without pain during the exercises or how much more control I have as I do them. Progress cannot only be measured using the reduction of pain as a guide. If you use this as your bench mark of improvement it is unhelpful and can result in giving up on the exercise programme before it’s had a chance to prove its relevance in improving the situation.

You may like to try these exercises for yourself. If like me you are in pain, start gently with small movements which may feel as if the exercises is incomplete. This is not the case. Remember it is a process not an end point in itself. Where I have used weights, start with no weight to understand if the movement is appropriate for you. If you feel OK with no weight progress to holding a light weight in your hand and increase the weight over time as you are able.

I am working towards 12-15 repetitions of each exercise (if the movements are pain free) and at the moment I only repeat this ‘set’ once and move onto the next exercise. I change the order of the exercises (when I remember…) and if I am feeling strong and it feels the right thing to do, I repeat another set but this may only include half the number of repetitions. Sometimes I add an additional one or two of the exercises into my day if I am feeling so inclined but I’m not down on myself if I don’t.

If you, like me are suffering and these exercises do not feel right to you, I recommend you seek advice first. If you would like to ask me anything about the above, feel free to get in touch.

Even if you are not in pain, these exercises are good general arm exercises and a good measure of your functional strength. I look forward to hearing how you get on!

| 0 comments | in arm strength, Muscle weakness, shoulders, Strains and sprains, strength, Tennis elbow

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