My question

Between now and two months from now when I'm able to see an orthopedic surgeon, what exercises can I do in a hotel room with only my body weight that will not aggravate the shoulder injury detailed below any further, and still provide a general upper body workout?

Situational Background Information

I am currently on a business trip to France that will last up to 2 more months. While in the hotel room I have limited available means of exercise. My first morning here I did pushups upon waking and was unable to finish very many of them before experiencing shoulder pain. Throughout the rest of the day and the two days that followed my shoulder has been in a good amount of pain, and I have not done any further upper-body exercising.

Injury Background (SLAP Tear)

I injured my shoulder a number of years ago in the US Marine Corps, and the initial MRI results from the military docs was that I had bursitis in my shoulder. I rejected cortisone shots (due to the side effects explained to me by the doctor) and did some physical therapy exercises that were wholly ineffective. After that, I just dealt with the varying levels of constant mild-to-moderate pain for the next four years.

As the pain has been steadily increasing in intensity and frequency over the last year, I had another MRI and X-ray from a civilian doctor and was told my shoulder is in the following condition:

There is tearing at the base of the superior, posterosuperior, and posterior labrum, extending from the 9 o'clock position of the posterior labrum to the 12 o'clock position of the superior labrum, with small para labral cyst formation along the posterosuperior and superior labrum measuring up to 3mm in size. The tear occurs completely through the base of the labrum, with focal detachment of the labrum without significant displacement. The remainder of the labrum is intact.

The X-ray showed no skeletal abnormalities.

The doctor said, "Well, I see the reason you've been complaining about all this pain," and has referred me to an orthopedic surgeon.

5 Answers 5


Actually any body weight exercises could aggravate the tear. A torn labrum lessens the joint's stability. Torn tissue is not something that exercises will correct.

Exercises may help to improve the position of your shoulder joint and scapula. Exercise may help to balance and strengthen muscles around the shoulder so that they protect the shoulder from further damage. However, these types of exercises are in the realm of rehabilitation using light weights and resistance bands. Exercises to strengthen your shoulder would be well below body weight and in specific positions not to stress the torn area.

Your main goal at this point is to reduce the pain. Pain inhibits normal muscle function further weakening the muscles. Rest, ice, gentle range and support (taping) can help to reduce pain. You may try some of the exercises given to you in therapy to see if you tolerate them. Checking with your health care practitioner is the best advice. In France, you could check with a "kinesitherapeute". Best of luck.

  • This is definitely the time to work with your doctor, and not worry about any short term setbacks. Your physical therapist will give you some exercises to use to rehabilitate the area, and you may be instructed to wait until after surgery if it is required. Only when you are given the green light would I start working the whole area again, and even then ramp up the activity gradually. Apr 28, 2015 at 16:04

Old Devil Dogs are OK in my book.

First, if you have a torn rotator cuff or torn muscles, I'd say stop exercising this part of your body until you can get it repaired.

If not, I am going to guess that you have not been stretching before you drop and give me 20 push-ups, are you?

You need to warm up before you slam your shoulder with weights or you are going to make that injury worse.

Stretching is best. Jumping jacks afterwards would give your shoulders mild activity to help get the area warmed up.

Instead of going straight to the conventional push-ups, you could try leaning forward onto a wall and doing some weenie push-ups that way. If that does not aggravate your shoulder, your next exercise can be Girl Push-ups (knees on the floor).

We won't laugh as long as you don't post pictures.


Doh! I should have added: Forward Raises, Lateral Raises, and Shrugs would be a great shoulder exercise while stuck in a hotel room.

If you don't have dumbells, use phone books and bibles. They are almost always placed in every hotel.

shoulder raises


Bryson, Whenever our bodies experience muscle or joint Pain. It is a warning signal to stop the particular activity. Remember one thing, the law of physics. Any land based body weight exercises i.e. jogging, push-ups, pull-ups, etc. involve gravity and our body weight. If you insist on performing body weight exercises, reduce body weight [ aerobics and less calories per day ]. By losing 5% to 10% body weight and see if this allows you to continue performing push-ups without pain. The other alternative is to perform resistance exercises similar to the posted photography. With the exception of less weight on the injured side. Good luck and Have Fun!!!


Forward and lateral raises should only be done at an angle for someone with a shoulder injury. Also the weights should be very light(no more than 10 lbs max) to avoid further stress on the joint

  • Can you clarify what you mean "at an angle"? Give the shoulder can rotate through more angles than any joint, this is important information.
    – JohnP
    Apr 27, 2015 at 22:37

I have been dealing with the same problem; a nasty slap tear. After searching the web for exercises/ routines that I could still do, I found a video that somewhat clarifies doing lateral and front raises at an angle. I observed that front and lateral raises were performed with a "thumbs up" hand position, not the typical palms down position. I also read that performing light, rotator cuff strengthening exercises to build support muscles is helpful. Another observation about angled front raises is to perform the front raises, not directly in front of you, but at a point midway between in front and a lateral raise. Be cautious, though. Since light weights are to be used, it is easy to be seduced to use heavier weights to better challenge yourself. This can put you back at square one. Take some time and search the web for some of these videos that I have described. Most are on U-tube. Good luck and if possible, avoid surgery. The results are often not what you fantasize they will be.

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