Shoulder Rehab Exercises
NOTE: These exercises are meant to be used only if you have minimal or no shoulder pain. If you have a moderate or severe shoulder problems, these exercises could make things worse. In those situations, the best thing to do is use ice, stretching, and work on improving your pain-free range of motion.
Perform each exercise slowly and with as much control as possible. Focus on staying relaxed, especially in your neck. Building endurance is more important than strength, so choose a difficulty that allows you to perform at least 10 reps of each exercise with good form. If you can perform 15 reps easily, then increase the difficulty a little bit next time. If any of these exercises cause pain, they should be avoided, at least for now.
1. Dumbbell Scaption – Sit or stand with good posture, focusing on staying as vertical as possible and keeping a neutral/flat back. Hold a weight in each hand and maintain a neutral grip position (palms facing each other). Slowly raise the weights in front of you, moving your arms slightly out to the side as they go up. The movement resembles a narrow “V” type motion. At the top of the movement, your hands should be just below shoulder height or lower. If they go higher, it means you are cheating and engaging muscles that should be relaxed.
2. Side Lying External Rotation – Lay on your side keeping your elbow at your side and your wrist straight in line with your forearm at all times. Slowly raise and lower your forearm, focusing on the muscles on the side of the shoulder/upper arm. This exercise can be performed without added resistance or you can use a light dumbbell. Stop the exercise if you start to feel other muscles working or if your shoulder becomes too tight.
3. Arm Bar (Shoulder Stability Roll) – Lay on your back on the ground and hold one weight straight up with your arm. An uneven weight, such as a kettlebell works better than a dumbbell, but both can be effective. Keep the weight pointing towards the ceiling and roll forward on your other arm so the weight moves/raises up towards the ceiling. Your arm should stay vertical during the entire movement and the movement stops when you are completely on your side.
4. Push Hand away from Body (floor) – This exercise works best when performed lying in a prone position (face down) on the floor or on a bench. Start by putting one hand on your low back with your palm facing up. Try to relax as much of your body as possible and use your shoulder and upper back muscles to move your hand away from your body. The goal is to move your hand in a completely vertical motion, so it stays directly above your low back.
5. Reverse Fly (floor) – This exercise can be done on the floor, a bench, or an exercise ball. Start with your arms out to the sides and have a small to moderate bend in your elbows. Try to have you elbows pointing towards the ceiling as much as possible during the entire exercise. Your arms will have some tension, but try to keep them as relaxed as possible and focus on raising your arms using the muscles in your upper back and back of the shoulders. It should feel like your shoulder blades are squeezing together at the top of the movement. To increase the difficulty, you can rotate your arms back until your thumbs point towards the ceiling.