Exercises to improve shoulder strength and mobility
Domlur, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
If you find your shoulders aching and paining a day after doing relatively heavy work such as moving furniture around the house or rearranging the bottles on top of kitchen shelf, it could imply declining flexibility of your shoulders. The more flexible your shoulders are, the more strong you are to carry on even those activities that put a little strain on your shoulder muscles. Shoulder flexibility is a crucial part of your body and most exercise regimes have a set of isolated stretches targeting the shoulders in particular.
The human shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body. As it is the joint with the widest range of motion, it is subject to relatively more wear and tear compared to other joints.
The human shoulder
The shoulder has two parts: the actual shoulder joint and the scapula. The shoulder joint is the part that we know as the actual “shoulder,” where a bone called the humerus i.e the arm bone which meets the scapula. The scapula or shoulder blade connects the arm to the rib cage. If the scapula or humerus doesn’t move well, there will be less stability and range of motion. Also one needs to take care of the muscles around it i.e. the muscles should be conditioned well, to keep it moving freely.
To keep the shoulders healthy and moving, it is important to include an exercise regimen that improves the mobility and strength of the shoulder joint.
1. Isometric shoulder exercises
Isometric shoulder exercises involve contracting the muscle without moving the limb and holding for 5 to 10 seconds. Wall can be used as resistance. They can be done for a range of different shoulder movements to strengthen the muscles around the entire joint including adduction, abduction, flexion, extension and
2. Wand exercise
The exercises can be started initially using a wand for assistance as depicted below.
3. Scapular squeeze
In a sitting position with the elbows by the side,squeeze the shoulder blades together, holding for 5-10 seconds. This strengthens the rhomboids and middle trapezius
4. Bilateral extension shoulder exercise
The aim here is to increase mobility and strengthen downward rotators of the scapula. Start just in front of the body and pull the arms backwards, squeezing the shoulder blades together and down. Keep the elbows straight. Initially a wand can be used progressing it to thera band.
5. Scapular pull down exercise
The scapula pull down shoulder exercise strengthens the depressors of the shoulder.
6. Shoulder external rotation with retraction
This exercise strengthens the rhomboids and middle trapezius. With the arms by the sides and the elbows bent, hold a resistance or elastic band between your hands and rotate outwards. One can start doing it without the resistance band initially and then progress to thera band.
7. Front raise shoulder exercise and lateral raise shoulder exercise
This can be started without using any band and then progressing to the band.It strengthens the front of the shoulder, specifically the anterior deltoid muscle. One places one end of the elastic band under one foot and lifts the arm forwards and upwards for front raise exercise. The lateral raise exercise uses a resistance band to strengthen the deltoid muscles on the top of the shoulder. The arm is kept straight and raised out the side, then lowered. Band is anchored under the foot.
8. Lateral and medial rotation in prone
One lies on their front with the arm out to the side and elbow bent. Can be done with a dumbell or thera band.
You can take the guidance of your physiotherapist to know with which all exercises you can get started with.