Your shoulder is a complex joint made up of many tendons and muscles. When injuries or strain occur, it’s important to seek treatment from your physician. Sometimes, these injuries require surgery, but many conditions can be treated with physical therapy or exercises that focus on maintaining shoulder health. Check with a health professional to make sure the exercises listed below are appropriate for you. These exercises help with stability, flexibility, and strength – all of these are important for preventing strain or injury.
Before You Begin
Warming up the body to prepare it for exercise is important. Typically, a warm-up prior to exercising the shoulders consists of a few minutes of light aerobic exercise followed by some gentle stretches of the shoulders and arms.
Aerobic exercise can be as simple as walking or light jogging in place. For a light warm-up stretch, try this:
- Lean forward so your back is at about a 45-degree angle and place one hand on a table or other similar support. Your other arm will hang freely.
- Gently swing your free arm forward, then back. Repeat for about ten seconds.
- Now, let your arm swing side to side. It will move toward your body and the support, then away. Let it swing gently but freely. Do this for the same amount of time: about ten seconds.
- Lastly, swing your arm in a slow, circular motion for ten seconds.
- Repeat this series of movements on the opposite arm.
Stretch and Strengthen
These four exercises will help stretch and strengthen the muscles and tendons of the shoulder while also enhancing flexibility. Regularity is key – for best results, make an effort to do these exercises five to six days each week.
- Crossover Stretch. This stretch strengthens the posterior deltoid muscles. Simply sit or stand, relax the shoulders, and pull one arm across the chest. Be careful not to put pressure on the elbow. Switch sides. Repeat four more times on each side.
- Bicep Curl. Curls help strengthen the bicep and take pressure off of the shoulder. Stand or sit, relaxing the shoulders. Grip a light weight (one to two pounds) in each hand. Keeping your elbows snug against your sides, curl the weight in toward one bicep, then release. Repeat with the other arm. Movements should be slow and steady. Do five repetitions on each side.
- Internal Rotation. This exercise helps maintain the pectoralis muscle. Stand comfortably with shoulders relaxed. Raise the arm so it’s in a straight line out from the shoulder., palm facing forward. Slowly bring it diagonally across the body, palm facing inward, until the arm touches the body, then back up to the starting position. Repeat four more times. Do the same with the opposite arm.
- External rotation. This is essentially the opposite of the internal rotation. Start with a straight arm snug against the body diagonally. Sweep the arm out and up, ending with the arm straight out from the shoulder, palm facing forward. Repeat for a total of five times with each arm. This exercise will help strengthen the deltoids and upper back muscles.
Finish up your shoulder exercise routine by repeating the warmup stretch. Try to maintain a habit of doing these exercises five to six days each week and take note of improvements in shoulder pain, mobility and strength.